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The 2021 Media Impact Forum
Session 4 is Wednesday, May 19
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May 2021—
1:00 pm—2:00 pm

This is a series of funder-only online discussions. After you click the Register button, you'll have an opportunity to sign up for the sessions you want to join.

February 17 | 1-2:30 p.m. ET
March 17 | 1-2 p.m. ET
April 21 | 1-2:30 p.m.
May 19 | 1-2 p.m. ET
June 16 | 1-2:30 p.m. ET

Our 2021 Media Impact Forum will focus on evidence-based communications through one online discussion a month from February to June.

Rationale & Context

Last year (isn’t it nice we can finally say that?), we kicked off our 2020 Media Impact Forum with a discussion on the origins of COVID-19 and the danger of animal-borne infectious diseases. We presented that discussion as a case study for understanding the need for evidence-based communications—a topic of increased interest to a growing number of funders who are recognizing the need to communicate more effectively around science.

During that discussion, David Quammen, authoritative author of “Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic,” warned us: “We have a crisis going on that is probably bigger than the COVID crisis. And that’s the crisis threatening our democratic institutions. Some people who have been disempowered, who have been left behind economically, have turned their anger and resentment into a great appetite for stories that appeal to them that are unsupported by fact, that are unsupported by science.”

Now, a year into the pandemic, MIF is set to kick off the 2021 Media Impact Forum with another, perhaps more urgent, case study for supporting evidence-based communications: vaccine hesitancy. Experts estimate that herd immunity will require 85% of the population to take the vaccine. But nearly 40% of Americans say they are not likely to take it.

On Wednesday, Feb. 17, we’ll hear from Ann Christiano, director of the University of Florida’s Center for Public Interest Communications, on its new “Guide to COVID-19 Vaccine Communications,” which outlines eight principles for building trust through effective and strategic communications.

Fake health news is a serious challenge for funders of media and journalism, one that they must face head-on as we continue to navigate our way out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Inaccurate or false information about disease and medicines travels across social media platforms far faster than fully researched, referenced information, presenting fresh challenges for philanthropy at a time when trust in news is so low.

We will continue our programming with examples of what initiatives funders are supporting right now, including funder collaborations that serve to amplify this important work. Stay tuned for more information on the rest of the sessions.

With that context, we hope you’ll join us for our upcoming Media Impact Forum, our annual gathering of funders who support media in the public interest. It’ll look a bit different, of course: We’ll host one online discussion on the third Wednesday of every month from February to June. We hope this pace of programming works for you and doesn’t add to your Zoom fatigue. We see this series of conversations focusing on evidence-based communications as a chance for you to come together with your peers, deepen learning, and help strengthen our funding community for the work that lies ahead.

What You’ll Learn

  • The latest research behind communicating effectively about vaccines to diverse communities
  • How your funding peers are supporting work that strengthens evidence-based communications activities
  • Important collaborations in the field and opportunities to strengthen connections


Date: Wednesday, Feb. 17 | 1-2:30 p.m. ET
Session 1: Addressing vaccine hesitancy

Session 1 has concluded, but you can watch the recording here.

Date: Wednesday, Mar. 17 | 1-2:00 p.m. ET
Session 2: Mastering the vaccine messaging: Funder strategies & collaborations

This session is co-hosted with Grantmakers In Health.

Session 2 has concluded, but you can watch the recording here.

Date: Wednesday, Apr. 21 | 1-2:30 p.m. ET
Session 3: The path forward to more inclusive science communications

Session 3 has concluded, the recording will be available soon.

Date: Wednesday, May 19 | 1-2 p.m. ET
Session 4: Environmental journalism: Building evidence-based reporting initiatives toward a healthy planet

For our fourth session of the Media Impact Forum, we’re shifting focus away from promoting vaccine confidence and will be exploring evidence-based communications around a different topic: the environment. This session will feature media experts discussing where consumers get environmental news, who they trust, how they filter the environmental content they receive, and will also explore the connection between media narratives and public opinion.

In this session, we’ll hear from Earth HQ, the media arm of Global Common Alliance, a coalition of scientific, philanthropic and conservation organizations along with business networks working to protect our planet’s most precious resources. We’ll learn about the impact of Earth HQ’s far-reaching initiatives and collaborative efforts.

We’ll also hear about a media analysis of energy coverage in Southeast Asia conducted by Climate Tracker and the Stanley Center for Peace and Security. The project trained 10 young researchers to conduct 99 interviews with journalists in five countries and analyze 2,700 articles in four media languages. The resulting report identifies the challenges that climate journalists face in the rapidly developing “tiger cub economies” of Southeast Asia, and lays out action points for those seeking to enhance accurate energy reporting in the region.

And lastly, we’ll hear from the Walton Family Foundation about its recent grant to the Associated Press to develop three new water and environment beats. The grant is part of Walton’s new initiative aimed at strengthening environmental reporting.


Tim Kelly, Director, Earth HQ





Sweta Chakraborty, Ph.D, Behavioral Scientist, Science Policy Advisor, Risk Communicator, Earth HQ Advisory Council member
Earth HQ




Mai Hoang,  National Consultant for United Nations Development Programme, Viet Nam  and former Southeast Asia Lead at Climate Tracker



Devon Terrill, Program Officer for journalism and media, Stanley Center for Peace and Security





Mark Shields, Senior Communications Officer, Walton Family Foundation






Lisa Gibbs, Director of News Partnerships, The Associated Press





MODERATOR: Alex Jakana, Program Officer for Global Media Partnerships, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation