TrollBusters

Type of Activity: Project
Grantee: Media Innovation Collaboratory, Inc.
Amount: $215,000 in 2020

What is TrollBusters?

TrollBusters is a just-in-time rescue service for women writers and journalists experiencing online harassment. A fiscally-sponsored project of Media Innovation Collaboratory, TrollBusters provides online pest control for journalists by providing awareness, training, consulting and other supports to individual journalists and media organizations to mitigate the impact of online harassment and threats.

Why do we think this project is important?

TrollBusters provides online monitoring of dangerous actors who may pose a threat to journalists’ livelihoods and lives. They provide trainings for newsrooms, act proactively and reactively in response to instances of online harassment, and support individual journalists through one-on-one services and free resources on digital health and wellness. A portion of this grant was used for legal support in finalizing their fiscal sponsor relationship and related infrastructure.

How is Democracy Fund Voice supporting Trollbusters?

In 2020, Democracy Fund Voice approved a grant of $215,000 to TrollBusters.

Media Policy Reform

Type of Activity: Project
Grantee: National Newspaper Publishers Association
Amount: $50,000 in 2020

What is the National Newspaper Publishers Association?

The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) is a trade association of the more than 200 African American-owned community newspapers from around the United States. NNPA is committed to providing its members with valuable information, opportunities, and services. They believe that communication among publishers is a key tool to improving the industry.

Why do we think this project is important?  

This grant supported the Local Journalism in America Advocacy Program, which advocated for increased government funding for local journalism in the United States. A key objective of this project in 2021 was to enhance government funding and support of the democratization of local journalism by ensuring greater diversity and inclusion in professional journalism across the nation.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly devastating for African American and other minority-owned newspapers and media companies. The Local Journalism In America Advocacy Program identified and advocated for financial support for the best practices that achieve journalistic success, innovation, and sustainability.

How is Democracy Fund Voice supporting National Newspaper Publishers Association?

In 2020, Democracy Fund Voice approved a grant of $50,000 to the National Newspaper Publishers Association in support of the Local Journalism in America Advocacy Program project.

Multicultural Media & Correspondents Association

Type of Activity: General Operating Support
Grantee: Multicultural Media & Correspondents Association
Amount: $100,000 in 2020

What is the Multicultural Media & Correspondents Association?

Multicultural Media & Correspondents Association (MMCA) is a group of media stakeholders, influencers of color, and their allies, who share a mission of eliminating barriers to media diversity. This includes a goal of increasing diverse ownership and control of the reporting, creation, production, and distribution of news and stories on all platforms.

Why do we think this organization is important?

A strong democracy requires a diverse media landscape that reflects the voices of the communities they represent. Diverse participation in, and ownership of, media organizations ensures that important stories are not missed. Providing greater representation not only allows more audiences to see alternative viewpoints, but also allows groups and communities to see their lives and interests reflected in our national conversation.

Now in its fourth year of existence, MMCA continues to strengthen its position as an advocate and change-agent for media diversity. The focus of their efforts include community and coalition building, advocacy and awareness, industry accountability, and stakeholder assistance and collaboration.

Digital channels eliminate some of the barriers to diversity that existed on traditional platforms; however, MMCA’s research and engagement have revealed that decision maker bias and the barriers to discovery by audiences have not been removed. Consolidation, tech transformation, changes in consumer behavior, and rushed policy changes are combining to make the landscape even more difficult. MMCA’s primary goal is to help media stakeholders of color successfully navigate and thrive in this rapidly-changing new media economy and to address the barriers that still remain.

How is Democracy Fund Voice supporting Multicultural Media & Correspondents Association?

In 2020, Democracy Fund Voice approved a grant of $100,000 to Multicultural Media & Correspondents Association.

Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

Type of Activity: General Operating Support
Grantee: Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Amount: $175,000 in 2020 over two years.

What is the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights?

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights was founded in 1950 by a coalition of civil rights activists. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the Leadership Conference advocated for the passage of civil rights legislation in Congress. Their efforts resulted in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1957, the Civil Rights Act of 1960, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

Today, the Leadership Conference is a coalition of over 200 member organizations and continues to coordinate advocacy and lobbying efforts in support of legislation that protects and expands civil and human rights.

Why do we think this organization is important?

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights’ work to organize civil rights organizations through their Civil Rights, Privacy, and Technology Table and Media/Telecommunications Task Force directly supports the types of coordination needed to improve human rights data policy grounded in racial justice and gender equity. Their extensive history and expertise in this area makes them uniquely positioned to coordinate civil rights advocacy at multiple levels.

How is Democracy Fund Voice supporting Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

In 2020, Democracy Fund Voice approved a two year grant of $175,000 to the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

Free Press Action Fund

Type of Activity: General Operating Support
Grantee: Free Press Action Fund
Amount: $275,000 in 2020

What is Free Press Action Fund?

Free Press Action is a nonpartisan 501(c)(4) advocacy organization that seeks to change the media to transform democracy to realize a just society. They believe that social change, racial justice and meaningful engagement in public life require equitable access to technology, diverse ownership of media platforms, and journalism that holds leaders accountable and tells people what’s actually happening in their communities. They work to safeguard a free and open internet, curb runaway media consolidation, protect press freedom and ensure diverse voices are represented in our media.

Why do we think this organization is important?

Free Press Action is a nonpartisan 501(c)(4) advocacy organization that seeks to change the media to transform democracy to realize a just society. They believe that social change, racial justice and meaningful engagement in public life require equitable access to technology, diverse ownership of media platforms, and journalism that holds leaders accountable and tells people what’s actually happening in their communities. They work to safeguard a free and open internet, curb runaway media consolidation, protect press freedom and ensure diverse voices are represented in our media.

How is Democracy Fund Voice supporting Free Press Action Fund?

In 2020, Democracy Fund Voice approved a grant of $275,000 to Free Press Action Fund.

Local Media Reform

Type of Activity: Project
Grantee: Common Cause
Amount: $125,000 in 2020

What is Common Cause?

Common Cause is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy. They work to create an open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest; promote equal rights, opportunity, and representation for all; and empower all people to make their voices heard in the political process.

Why do we think this project is important?

Driven by the conviction that nothing is more important to a functioning democracy than an informed and engaged public, Common Cause raised awareness about the decline in resources for news and media organizations, and developed long-term solutions to the crisis in local news. The decline of independent, local newspapers and news stations has resulted in communities lacking adequate sources of local news and information, which has a significant negative impact on the quality of our civic dialogue and democracy.

To address this, Common Cause advocated for increased government funding of local media to ensure journalists could continue to provide critical news and information, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Funding  supported public and community media of all kinds, newsrooms and reporting jobs at local commercial and nonprofit news outlets, and  investments to address the civic-information needs of communities.

Common Cause also worked to prevent ongoing media consolidation by opposing media mergers and advocating against pro-consolidation policies at the federal level. To further strengthen local media, Common Cause advanced policies and built coalitions at the state level.

How is Democracy Fund Voice supporting Common Cause?

In 2020, Democracy Fund Voice approved a grant of $125,000 to Common Cause.  

 

Media Reform

Type of Activity: Project
Grantee: The GroundTruth Project
Amount: $50,000

What is The GroundTruth Project?

GroundTruth’s mission is to restore journalism from the ground up by supporting the next generation of journalists through field reporting that serves under-covered corners of the United States and the world. They work to build a pipeline of talent for emerging journalists, restore faith in the industry by supporting in-depth public service reporting, and to serve as watchdogs where no one seems to be watching.

They provide educational opportunities in the form of training seminars, forums, conferences, and workshops, in addition to publishing critical information and storytelling on a variety of urgent issues.

Why do we think this project is important?

Even before COVID-19, local news organizations were struggling. The number of reporters had declined 60 percent since 2000, the same scale of collapse as local industry. Some 1,800 communities have no local news source at all.

With a primary goal of creating a national public strategy for public policies that will rebuild local news, The GroundTruth Project created a powerful new coalition — Rebuild Local News — that  brought together a broad collection of stakeholders, developed ambitious policy proposals, advocated for public policies, initiated grassroots campaigns, and lobbied Congressional staff. Once their plan was developed, published, and shared publicly, The GroundTruth Project focused on raising awareness of the plan among legislative staff, legislators, and the media. If a public policy framework were adopted and implemented, it has the potential to lead to a substantial increase in income for nonprofit local media and locally-owned for-profit media. This would result in a local media system that better represents its residents, including communities of color, which have been historically underserved.

Local news organizations are necessary for the health of a democracy, as they connect constituents with the legislators and officials who often have the most direct impact on their daily lives. By providing information about local government affairs they help communities increase their civic engagement, and by investigating problems or uncovering corruption, local news organizations serve as a watchdog for issues that might otherwise be overlooked. Local news is an important component of a national democracy, and should be treated as such through national public policies.

How is Democracy Fund Voice supporting The GroundTruth Project?

In 2020, Democracy Fund Voice approved a grant of $50,000 to The GroundTruth Project.

Stop Online Violence Against Women

Type of Activity: Project
Grantee: Planetwork NGO
Amount: $135,000 in 2020 over two years

What is the Stop Online Violence Against Women Project?

Stop Online Violence Against Women Project (SOVAW), fiscally sponsored by Planetwork NGO, raises awareness and funding to stop online harassment. SOVAW addresses inadequate laws and policies that lack protections for women, particularly women of color. They focus on laws to prevent online violence against women and policy change at the local and federal level of government agencies, and they also work to hold technology and social media companies accountable.

SOVAW serves as a resource of services and options for women and women of color, based on their level of harassment or violence, and they work to include diverse stories of women who are willing to share their experiences. They highlight and include partnering organizations, legislators and companies who are working together to address this important issue.

Why do we think this project is important?

Stop Online Violence Against Women is exploring ways to reduce digital voter suppression and harassment on social media platforms, with an intersectional focus on women of color, through research, public education, and coordination with other groups working to solve this challenge. Advocacy and research are needed to pressure government and platforms to change the policies and functionality of platform algorithms, paid content, and content governance.

Digital and social media platforms are an undeniable and vital part of our public square, and serve as a major source of information for Americans throughout the country. For our democracy to function successfully, voices representing underserved or underrepresented communities must be able to contribute without the fear of harassment or threats against their safety. When women and people of color are silenced, our country loses out on important points of view that impact the discussion of common problems and potential solutions.

How is Democracy Fund Voice supporting Stop Online Violence Against Women Project?

In 2020, Democracy Fund Voice approved a grant of $135,000 over two years to the Stop Online Violence Against Women Project.

Local News and Press Freedom Advocacy

Type of Activity: Project
Grantee: PEN American Center
Amount: $100,000 in 2020

What is PEN American Center?  

Founded in 1922, PEN America is the largest of the more than 100 centers worldwide that make up the PEN International network. PEN America works to ensure that people everywhere have the freedom to create literature, to convey information and ideas, to express their views, and to access the views, ideas, and literatures of others.

Why do we think this project is important?

A robust, dynamic, and inclusive free press is essential to genuinely empowered, informed, and vibrant communities — the very foundation of American civic life. And protecting a free press requires both grassroots support from the communities it seeks to cover and a commitment from lawmakers to legal, economic, and policy support.

PEN America expanded its local news and press freedom advocacy efforts throughout the country, with a focus on legislative efforts and policy solutions. Their teams led campaigns and community convenings that advocated for increased attention to these issues using a variety of methods that included resolutions, bills, and constituent campaigns. This built on their existing efforts to organize Congressional support for stimulus funding of local news organizations.

This work is needed now more than ever; in response to the recent increase in protests in cities and states across the country, PEN America drafted local sign-on letters to city officials urging them to protect the press and protestors who faced threats and violence from law enforcement.

How is Democracy Fund Voice supporting PEN American Center?

In 2020, Democracy Fund Voice approved a grant of $100,000 to PEN American Center.

Media and Technology Program

Type of Activity: Project Grant
Grantee: Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Amount: $50,000 in 2019

What is the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights?

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights was founded in 1950 by a coalition of civil rights activists. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the Leadership Conference advocated for the passage of civil rights legislation in Congress. Their efforts resulted in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1957, the Civil Rights Act of 1960, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

Today, the Leadership Conference is a coalition of over 200 member organizations and continues to coordinate advocacy and lobbying efforts in support of  legislation that protects and expands civil and human rights. 

Why do we think this project is important?

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights’ Media and Technology program works to ensure that new technologies enhance civil rights protections, expand media diversity,  and increase access to broadband. Their focus includes challenging media platforms to take responsibility for their role in public access to information, which will lead to increased transparency on how platforms conduct business and raise public pressure for better policies governing how platforms operate. 

How is Democracy Fund Voice supporting the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights?

In 2019, Democracy Fund Voice approved a grant of $50,000 to the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights for their Media and Technology program.