Expert Commentary

How to fund and sustain news outlets created by and for people of color: Insights from The Pivot Fund podcast

Tracie Powell, journalist and founder of a new venture philanthropy organization, shares five podcast episodes about funding, sustaining and growing community news outlets.

(The Noun Project)

Journalist Tracie Powell is a leader in philanthropic efforts to increase racial equity and diversity in news media. She is the founder of The Pivot Fund, which seeks to support independent community news created by and for people of color. Last fall, she joined the Harvard Kennedy School Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy as a research fellow, investigating ways to fund, sustain and grow these news organizations. (The Shorenstein Center is also home to The Journalist’s Resource.)

In the course of the research, Powell has surveyed nearly 1,000 news outlets “to learn more about the mechanisms for funding and capacity building for media outlets run by and for BIPOCTM [Black, Indigenous, other people of color, and traditionally marginalized] communities,” she explained in an email to The Journalist’s Resource. “We want to learn about the programs that are working, and those that aren’t, directly from the newsrooms, not from the journalism adjacent organizations that receive funding to run them.”

Powell will be analyzing the results of that survey in the coming months. In the meantime, she has invited us to share several episodes of The Pivot Fund podcast, which features illuminating conversations about funding, sustainability and community engagement for resource-constrained newsrooms. The podcast was sponsored by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

What does it mean to be Black media? And how can media coverage provided for Black audiences be culturally competent? The Pivot Fund and Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press host an important conversation about Black media ownership.
Dr. Marisela Martinez-Cola, an assistant professor of sociology at Morehouse College, and Meena Thiruvengadam, a Chicago-based editorial consultant, discuss how publishers can connect with new community members of color in the American South. The conversation also includes Sonny “Messiah” Jiles, the publisher of the Houston Defender, and Cierra Hinton, the executive director and publisher of Scalawag magazine.
S. Mitra Kalita, the publisher of Epicenter-NYC, talks about why and how she launched her own brand. This conversation is co-moderated by Powell and Liz Alarcón, the founder and executive director of the nonprofit media startup Pulso.
The Pivot Fund hosts an important conversation about board development with BoardSource affiliate and nonprofit consultant Glenda Hicks and the former publisher of El Tecolote, Josué Rojas.
Does your organization need to hire a development staff? If so, when should it do that, where can you find good candidates, how much can you expect to pay them, and what are some alternatives to hiring a full-time development director? Mazin Sidahmed, co-founder and senior reporter for Documented, moderates a discussion with several fundraising experts.

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