Journalism & Media
Working to strengthen American democracy by informing, engaging, and activating Americans through deep investments in just and inclusive news and narratives
Why We Support This Work
Despite abundant and growing sources of news and information, only a small percentage of journalism and media is created with an intention to engender deep understanding about current events; lift up underreported or misunderstood issues; include and amplify diverse perspective; promote self-reflection, empathy, and mutual respect; and inspire civic engagement and action. Systemic social and economic disparities, a highly polarized political culture, and sophisticated disinformation campaigns compound the issue. As a result, large segments of the American public are misinformed, disengaged, and cynical about their role as civic actors and agents for social change.
In this environment, an expanding network of nonprofit journalism and media organizations is working creatively and entrepreneurially to provide the American public with the information it needs for rigorous critical thinking and informed decision making. Supported by philanthropy and enabled by digital technologies, these organizations work to provide the opportunity and tools to share authentic and alternative perspectives for robust civic dialogue and activism. These organizations create and disseminate journalism and media content by both professionals and engaged residents that is original, illuminating, and compelling, and they achieve a level of influence and impact disproportionate to their size and resources.
Our Journalism and Media program seeks to strengthen and sustain an independent media ecosystem that investigates the actions of institutions, explores the implications of policies, challenges social norms, amplifies diverse perspectives, and creates opportunities for public conversations and individual and collective action on urgent contemporary issues.
The program works in three areas of media: Professional Nonprofit Reporting, Nonfiction Multimedia Storytelling, and Participatory Civic Media. Through our grantmaking and non-grantmaking activities, we aim to achieve the following short-term outcomes:
- Strong and stable organizations and networks that anchor and lead their respective fields.
- Increased dissemination and influence of grantee content, ideas, and programming.
- Better preparedness for confronting legal, safety, and digital security threats.
- More opportunities for diverse communities to access and produce relevant programming and content.
- More knowledge and ideas generated and tested that enhance understanding of emerging issues within the fields we support.
- Increased capacity, leadership, and collaboration of people in the fields we support.
These short-term outcomes are expected to create the conditions for:
- Stronger and more representative networks of individuals and groups that engage for social change.
- More supportive processes and policies that protect independent voices and the free flow of information.
- A more connected field where learning and innovation are nurtured and shared.
Ultimately, this work is aimed at contributing to the following long-term outcomes:
- The public is more informed, activated, and engaged.
- Public and private institutions are more accountable to the public.
- Public and cultural discourse is more fact-based and grounded in experience and expertise.
Measurement & Evaluation for Learning
Evaluation of our work is a critical tool for informing our decision making, leading to better results and more effective stewardship of resources. We develop customized evaluation designs for each of our programs based on the context, problem, opportunity, and approach to the work. Evaluation is not a one-time event. It is an ongoing process of collecting feedback and using that information to support our grantees and adjust our strategy.
Journalism and Media has worked with FSG as an evaluation and learning partner to advise us and build an evaluation framework. Our grantmaking aims to strengthens American democracy by supporting accurate, just, and inclusive news and narratives that inform, engage, and activate the public to build a more equitable future. We assess how well the program has contributed to this goal by measuring how much the independent media ecosystem:
- informs and facilitates public discourse;
- reinforces and expands civic engagement; and
- increases the accountability of public and private institutions.
In 2020, the Journalism and Media program completed a developmental evaluation of the strategy, covering the period between 2015-2020. The evaluation found a clear and urgent need for the Foundation to continue its work in supporting independent media and media activism. And it pointed to areas where the work could be deepened for greater impact.
Findings and analyses from evaluation activities are posted publicly as they become available.
Updated June 2021