Journalism & Media

Our Goal

Strengthening American democracy by supporting just and inclusive news and narratives that inform, engage, and activate Americans to build a more equitable future.

This grantmaking conducts its work in and across three areas of media which we believe are pathways for more just and inclusive narratives to be created, disseminated, and amplified:

  • Professional Nonprofit Reporting – Accountability and explanatory journalism by trained and professional reporters that surfaces critical and under-reported issues.
  • Nonfiction Multimedia Storytelling – Artful and engaging nonfiction storytelling by media makers that inspires self-reflection and public discourse.
  • Participatory Civic Media – Widespread use of media by citizens and groups to express and organize themselves for social change.


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 intentionality to engender deep understanding about current events, lift up under-reported or misunderstood issues, include and amplify diverse perspectives, promote self-reflection, empathy and mutual respect, and inspire civic engagement and action. As a result, and compounded by systemic social and economic disparities and a highly polarized political culture, large segments of the American public are misinformed, disengaged and cynical about their role as civic actors and agents for social change.

A small but growing community of nonprofit journalism and media organizations, supported by philanthropy and enabled by digital technologies, is working creatively and entrepreneurially to provide the American public with the information it needs for rigorous critical thinking and informed decision-making, and the opportunity and tools to share authentic and alternative perspectives for a robust civic dialogue. These organizations create and disseminate journalism and media content by professionals and citizens that is original, illuminating, and engaging, and they achieve a level of influence and impact disproportionate to their size and resources.   

The Foundation’s 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 individual action and public conversations on urgent contemporary issues.


Our Approach

In each of the areas of media, the program pursues three approaches:

  • Build strong, independent, and sustainable organizations and networks that exemplify leadership and innovation in their fields, and create and disseminate content and programming by, about, and for a diverse American public.
  • Address barriers that limit the creation of, access to, or participation in media activities, including the legal, safety, digital security, and technological challenges facing organizations and individuals.
  • Promote learning, leadership, innovation, and field-building opportunities that explore timely and emerging issues related to the production, dissemination, and engagement with journalism and media.

While we are not accepting unsolicited proposals at this time, we are always eager to hear new ideas and perspectives.


Expected Outcomes

Through our grantmaking and non-grantmaking activities, we aim to achieve the following short-term outcomes in each of the three areas of media in which the Foundation works:

  • 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 and leadership of people in the fields we support.

These short-term outcomes are expected to create an enabling condition for:

  • Stronger and more dynamic networks of individuals and groups that engage for social change.
  • More supportive policies that protect independent voices and the free flow of information.
  • A more connected field where learning and innovation is nurtured and shared.

Ultimately, this work is aimed at contributing to the following long-term outcomes:

  • Americans are 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 and Evaluation for Learning

Journalism and Media grantmaking works to strengthen American democracy by informing, engaging, and activating Americans through deep investments in independent journalism and media. We will assess how well the program has contributed to this goal by measuring the extent to which the independent media ecosystem: informs and facilitates public discourse; spurs and expands civic engagement, and increases the accountability of public and private institutions.


Updated June 2018

Migration Documentary Films thumbnail

Migration Documentary Films

MacArthur’s media grantmaking has supported the production of several documentary films on migration and immigration in the U.S. and around the world.


Portrait of Valerie Chang

Valerie Chang

Managing Director, Programs
Portrait of Kathy K. Im

Kathy K. Im

Portrait of Elsa Leon

Elsa Leon

Grants Manager
Portrait of Jennifer Humke

Jennifer Humke

Senior Program Officer
Portrait of Lauren Pabst

Lauren Pabst

Senior Program Officer
Portrait of Beth Basta

Beth Basta

Portrait of Maple Walker

Maple Walker


Media Contact

Portrait of Jennifer Martinez-Roth

Jennifer Martinez-Roth

Communications Officer

Evaluation Contact

Portrait of Joanna Cohen

Joanna Cohen

Senior Evaluation Officer
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