Equitable Media and Economies Initiative

While the local media crisis harms all communities, it especially damages those for whom community development financing was created—BIPOC and low- to middle-income communities who continue to suffer disproportionately due to discriminatory practices like redlining, and whose voices, information needs and success stories continue to be an afterthought for many mainstream, White-majority news outlets.  

 

That’s why we created the Equitable Media and Economies Initiative—to promote BIPOC community media as civic infrastructure, and to advance the necessary partnerships, policies and strategies to fund them as such. 

 

Access to reliable, relevant, trustworthy information is as important to creating healthy communities as affordable housing and healthcare, public transportation, clean air and water, healthy food, reliable broadband data networks, good schools, and cultural institutions.  

 

An essential part of our work is ensuring that local, regional and national community development strategies include intentional investments in those media outlets that prioritize the economic, social and civic well-being of BIPOC communities.

BIPOC Media Equitable Media CRA community development inclusive economy media advocacy civic infrastructure banks CDFIs MMCA redlining

 

 



Equitable Media and Economies Initiative


What is it? The Equitable Media and Economies Initiative is a national effort to create a more just economy and caring democracy by investing in equitable, community media. It is led by the Multicultural Media & Correspondents Association (MMCA) as part of its broader work of increasing multicultural media ownership and changing harmful narratives through advocacy, coalition building, media business transformation and galvanizing public and private resources.

 

The initiative, which launched in May 2020, exists to:

  • equip community media to report on, contribute to and compete in an equitable economy;

  • promote BIPOC community media organizations as critical civic infrastructure;

  • pursue partnerships, revenue strategies and policy changes to fund them as such.

 

Why is it needed? An equitable media ecosystem, with a diverse and healthy press reflecting the communities it reports on and for, is an essential means of creating thriving communities, resilient economies and a healthy democracy. Yet the very media enterprises that continuously and courageously take up this challenge are in danger of disappearing.

Just as redlining in lending continues to have devastating consequences for traditionally marginalized populations, the ongoing lack of investment in the media organizations that prioritize their information needs is perpetuating information disparities and harming communities. Disinvestment, the crushing loss of advertising revenues brought on by the COVID-19 crisis, and the lack of laws and policies that prioritize a free press, civic-minded news production and the information needs of multicultural communities pose an existential threat that must be addressed.

 

What is the opportunity? Despite their economic challenges, equitable, community media outlets continue to hold incredible trust, power and relevance across Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian and other traditionally marginalized communities. They are connectors, convenors and sources of relevant, actionable and often life-saving information, as we saw during the pandemic. They are as essential to a community’s well-being as affordable and reliable housing, education, transportation and health care. Yet the institutions and policies we often turn to for funding critical civic infrastructure — banks, community development finance institutions (CDFIs), socially responsible businesses, and government agencies — largely ignore community media as an essential building block.

We have an urgent imperative to eliminate this blind spot and invest in equitable media as part of national, state and local economic and community development strategies that dismantle institutional racism, close the information gap and create shared prosperity.

 

Who is involved? A key element of this work is creating a coalition of people and institutions that prioritize the economic, civic and social well-being of communities and understand the historic, ongoing and multi-dimensional role that equitable, community media play in advancing equity, liberation and economic justice.

Our collaborators include, among others, the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute, Democracy Fund Voice, National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC), National Institute for Inclusive Competitiveness (NIIC), Borealis Philanthropy’s Racial Equity in Journalism Fund, Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF) and Deseret Management Corporation.

 

The coalition’s goals for 2022 are to:

  1. launch a $1 billion Equitable Media Transformation funding campaign;

  2. develop an Equitable Media Finance Network;

  3. expand MMCA’s BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) Media Business Incubator;

  4. launch a national Education and Awareness Campaign;

  5. build a BIPOC Xchange to connect equitable media and supporters.

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