Tuesday, July 12, 2022

New philanthropy in Georgia invests $2 million in news organizations for minority communities in the state

A news startup with an increasingly rural focus, teamed with a video production firm, are two of the first seven grantees of The Pivot Fund, an Atlanta-based philanthropy that says its goal is to "to raise and invest $500 million nationwide in independent, community news organizations led by Black, Hispanic, Indigenous, and other people of color who are trusted sources for the communities they serve, bringing proven technology, business practices, and key staff positions to organizations that have the trust of their communities."

The fund announced $2 million in grants today. One went to Georgia Asian Times and Tomorrow Pictures, of Atlanta. They will "collaborate to report and produce a documentary on the Burmese immigrant community, who, like many others, settled initially in the Atlanta suburb of Clarkston but are now following chicken processing and warehouse jobs in rural Georgia," the fund says.

The grantees will also get "consulting support tailored for each, to help them increase revenue, develop digital and reporting capacity, and expand audiences," the fund says. "Each organization will be eligible for additional support in years two and three as they move toward sustainability." The fund says it plans to invest $6 million in Georgia news organizations over the next three years.

The fund is led by Tracie Powell, board chair of Local Independent Online News Publishers, or LION Publishers, and former leader of the Racial Equity in Journalism Fund. She has been thinking about underserved communities in journalism for a long time," Laura Hazard Owen of Nieman Lab reports.) She told Owen, “We spent six months looking across the state, identifying what assets were out there, how people consumed information, where they got it from, what they did with it once they had it. That’s a little different from what most other funders and intermediaries do. They tend to find people they know, or they do open calls. A better way, I think, is asking communities how and where they get information from.”

The other grantees are BEE TV Network of LaGrange, a cable-news outlet available to 600,000 Spectrum subscribers; P├ísa La Voz Savannah, a Facebook page with close to 15,000 followers, with news and information to help Spanish-speaking immigrants; Notivision of Warner Robins, which is "a bridge between Georgia’s growing Hispanic population and local business, organizations and local government;" Davis Broadcasting and The Courier Eco Latino of Columbus, an effort of Georgia’s largest Black-owned radio network and a bilingual newspaper serving the African-American and Latino communities.

These organizations are in communities that “a lot of people would tag news deserts,” Powell said. “There might have been a weekly newspaper in these communities. There might be a daily newspaper that used to be able to serve them, but there there’s been so much contraction that [it] no longer can. Or, even when the daily newspaper was flourishing, it wasn’t covering these communities. But the different thing now is, not only are these organizations covering communities — BIPOC communities, communities that look like them — their news and information is filling information holes. They’re lifting the entire information system.”

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