News from the Field

Crossing the abyss

Grant Oliphant | President, The Heinz Endowments

A common aphorism has it that “one man with courage is a majority.” Most of us instinctively don’t believe that. Most of us think one man standing athwart the tide makes for a powerful photo but a predictably tragic ending.

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Foundations back film-and-activism campaigns to fight global warming

Editor’s note: Back in January, during a private gathering of documentary film funders at the Sundance Film Festival, we had the pleasure of hearing from filmmaker Jeff Orlowski, whose latest documentary Chasing Coral uses beautiful time-lapse imagery to document the world’s dying coral reefs. Orlowski shared details on his new film’s impact strategy, the importance of simplifying scientific data for the public, and more. During the meeting, Orlowski commented that the film was meant not for the hardcore climate skeptics but those who find themselves somewhere in the middle of the debate. And he added that it was important to consider who is delivering these messages of change: “If the messages came from the tree huggers, they aren’t as effective as when they come from the farmers, fishermen, and the non-tree huggers,” he said. We got to know the Sundance Discovery Impact fellow last year during an interview about his Emmy Award-winning Chasing Ice, which follows an acclaimed environmental photographer a dangerous trek through the Arctic. Check out the Chasing Ice trailer, along with clips and excerpts from our discussion with Orlowski, here. Read more

Funding the First Amendment: The time for grantmaking is now

Editor’s note: Last month, we organized a call for journalism funders considering First Amendment support. The call was led by Eric Newton, Innovation Chief at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. We asked Newton—a journalist, historian, philanthropist and educator who has long championed free expression and freedom of information—to share his perspectives with our network.

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New guiding principles for funders of media

By Tim Isgitt | Managing director, Humanity United

I have a bias. I believe the service provided by responsible journalists is essential to keeping us all informed and engaged in our communities and the world around us. I am proud to play a role in supporting journalism. And in this time of immense social uncertainty, I believe the need for quality reporting, accurate storytelling and investigative journalism has never been greater.

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2017 Sundance Film Festival turns its lens on climate change, environment

Last week, as Donald J. Trump was being inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States in Washington, D.C., festival-goers in Park City, Utah, were preparing for premieres, parties and protests at the Sundance Film Festival. The MIF staff, its board of directors and various colleagues were focusing on how to move forward with effective, engaging storytelling, especially as it pertains to the health of our planet.

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Silence

By Grant Oliphant | President, The Heinz Endowments

Lately I have found myself stupefied into virtual silence. And I know, from speaking with many colleagues and many of you reading this, that I am not alone.

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A date with media grants data featuring Sarah Lutman

Editor’s note: We invited Sarah Lutman to take our new data tool, Foundation Maps for Media Funding, for a test ride to see how it could support her work in the arts and culture fields. Sarah founded Lutman & Associates in 2012 and has worked on a wide variety of projects both independently and with clients in cultural, public media, and philanthropic organizations. She wrote Molto+Media: Digital Culture Funding for us in December 2013.

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True story: How fake news skews our impact models and what we can do about it

Up in the lofty reaches of theory, the case for the impact of news is clear: Reporters report facts in good faith, and audiences consume these stories and deliberate with others who might not share their perspectives. In the process, they’re better informed to act in their role as citizens, and a better democracy results. Down here in the trenches of 2016, though, the impact story is much messier.

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