MMCA announces partnership with RJI to grow Inclusive Media and Economies

Event highlights

Opening statement from Connecticut Congressman Jim Himes
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4N_j4RHKi4

Unleashing the power of community revitalization
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pz1HvE6prQA

The pilot project update
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFz1-iSjeG0&t=94s

The Multicultural Media & Correspondents Association (MMCA) and the Missouri School of Journalism’s Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI) today announced a new partnership to grow and strengthen the “Inclusive Media and Economies” project. This project builds the capacity of local news organizations to report on — and compete in — a more equitable economy.

The partnership makes MMCA the fiscal host for Inclusive Media and Economies, joining RJI, which founded and has supported the project since May 2020. RJI continues to support Inclusive Media and Economies through funding, guidance, and amplification of the project through its academic and media networks.

MMCA is contributing additional funding, overseeing operations, and integrating the work of Inclusive Media and Economies into MMCA’s strategies for increasing Black, Indigenous and People of Color media ownership, including advocacy, coalition building, honoring BIPOC media excellence, and growing its BIPOC Media Incubator. MMCA’s work is funded in part by a grant from Democracy Fund Voice, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to helping America build a stronger, healthier democracy through investments and advocacy in civil politics, elections, governance, journalism and civic participation.

“MMCA is proud to have created a growing platform that allows us to be more intentional about working with RJI, Democracy Fund Voice and other allies to eliminate barriers, improve business outcomes, and to advocate for more investments and support for BIPOC media,” MMCA Executive Director David Morgan said. “Our expanded partnership with RJI will allow us to scale our efforts and to facilitate greater resource alignment and investments, partnerships and collaboration across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.” 

“A more equitable media landscape, with a diverse press reflecting the communities it reports on and for, is a necessary means to a thriving, informed society,” Democracy Fund Voice’s Paul Waters added. “BIPOC-led media organizations have historically been underinvested in, despite the incredible power and influence these outlets have across BIPOC communities. Democracy Fund Voice is encouraged by the Inclusive Media and Economies project’s efforts to create a more equitable future.”

Inclusive Media and Economies, conceived in May 2020 and directed by Linda Miller, started with a simple question: if a robust, free, independent and diverse press is so critical to the health, economic and civic success of communities, why is investing in local news absent from economic development strategies — and what would it take to change that?

Since then, the project has sparked new thinking and collaborative action aimed at futureproofing community media amid a public health pandemic, a news ecosystem plagued by underinvestment, and an economic imperative to address systemic racism. By examining harmful media narratives about the economy, amplifying the work of journalists and organizations working to change that, conducting experiments with local newsrooms, and doing outreach to the community and economic development sector, Inclusive Media and Economies has helped launch a much-needed national conversation about funding BIPOC community media as a community development strategy.

In August 2021, Inclusive Media and Economies teamed up with MMCA and Dynasty Consulting to help publishers of color tap into community development, revitalization and reinvestment funds, and then use those investments to test new revenue strategies and build more sustainable business models.

The pilot projects were spotlighted as part of MMCA’s inaugural BIPOC Community Media Development Summit, held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C on Nov. 18. The event featured informative discussions with publishers, policymakers and community development practitioners about how capacity-building investments in community media are essential to fueling a more inclusive economy and vice versa.

Congressman Jim Himes, who chairs the House Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth, told summit participants there is a clear need “for more local media outlets to advance inclusive narratives of the economy and to serve as a catalyst of equitable community revitalization,” and pledged his committee’s support.

One of the first goals for MMCA and Inclusive Media and Economies is to build a BIPOC Community Media Sustainability Coalition to 1) eliminate the blind spot that has kept the community development financing sector from investing in and partnering with community media; 2) help BIPOC media outlets undergo the business transformations needed to strengthen themselves as essential community service providers; and 3) rally funds and other resources needed to build a network of viable, impactful local BIPOC news operations that are themselves catalysts for equitable economic growth. 

“Not funding local media as critical civic infrastructure has had a deleterious effect on the local news ecosystem, especially for communities impacted by racism, disinvestment, physical destruction, economic exclusion and mistreatment by mainstream, white-led media,” Miller said. “Thanks to MMCA and RJI, the institutions that fund that infrastructure — banks, community development finance institutions (CDFIs), socially responsible businesses, and government agencies — are paying greater attention and poised to do better.”

RJI Executive Director Randy Picht said he is encouraged to see policymakers like Himes, and community development organizations like Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF), Capital Impact Partners, Reinvestment Fund and the National Community Redevelopment Coalition (NCRC), connect the dots between a healthy, diverse economy and a healthy, diverse local media ecosystem.

 “Inclusive Media and Economies has made great progress in figuring out how to engage community development stakeholders in conversations around media sustainability,” Picht said. “MMCA is well-positioned to take the project to the next level, and we’re excited to strengthen our partnership.”

To learn more about the Inclusive Media and Economies Project, contact linda@mmcadc.org.

About the Multicultural Media & Correspondents Association

The Multicultural Media & Correspondents Association (MMCA) is a growing group of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) media stakeholders, advocates and allies resolved to get more content, more ownership, more impact, and more control of our story and of where, when and how it is told.

About Inclusive Media and Economies

Inclusive Media and Economies is a transformational project that equips local media to tell a more accurate and inclusive story of the economy — and compete in that economy. The project is supported financially by the Reynolds Journalism Institute and the Multicultural Media & Correspondents Association.

About The Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute

The Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI) works with the news industry, professors, students and others to make sure journalism has a long and bright future. As a “think-and-do” tank that opened its doors in 2008, RJI uses its guaranteed funding to work exclusively to strengthen journalism in the service of democracy. It’s part of the Missouri School of Journalism.

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