Journalism & Media

Our Goal

Working to strengthen American democracy by informing, engaging, and activating Americans through deep investments in independent journalism and media.

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

The Journalism and Media program works to improve the state of American democracy by focusing on the role that media and citizens should, or can, play in helping to protect democratic principles, institutions, and outcomes.We believe a strong and independent media ecosystem can inform and facilitate public discourse, spur and expand civic engagement, and increase the accountability of public and private institutions. The Foundation endeavors to achieve these outcomes by supporting three pillars of a robust independent media ecosystem: accountability and explanatory journalism, artful and engaging nonfiction storytelling, and widespread use of media by citizens and groups.

Specifically, the Foundation works in three areas:

  • Professional Nonprofit Reporting on critical and under-reported areas disseminated in imaginative ways.
  • Nonfiction Multimedia storytelling that inspires self-reflection and public discourse.
  • Participatory Civic Media that enables individuals and groups to express and organize themselves for social change.

In each of the three areas of work – Professional Nonprofit Reporting, Nonfiction Multimedia, and Participatory Civic Media – the program pursues the following objectives:

  • Foster strong organizations that create and disseminate original, authentic, and accurate media content
  • Address barriers that challenge the pursuit of independent journalism or limit diversity in media
  • Promote widespread dissemination of and engagement with alternative and independent media
  • Accelerate learning and innovation that advances the production, dissemination, and engagement with journalism and media

The Journalism and Media program is not accepting unsolicited proposals.

Measurement and Evaluation for Learning

MacArthur’s Journalism and Media program works to strengthen American democracy by informing, engaging, and activating Americans through deep investments in independent journalism and media. The Foundation 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 September 2017

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

Team Administrator
Portrait of Maple Walker

Maple Walker

Team Coordinator

Media Contact

Portrait of Sean Harder

Sean Harder

Communications Officer

Evaluation Contact

Portrait of Joanna Cohen

Joanna Cohen

Program Officer