Media Impact Funders and Northern California Grantmakers held a funder briefing on the role of media policy and its impact on the health of our democracy to discuss what funders can and should be doing in this critical area.
Former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps drew from his experience at the agency to paint a stark picture of the current telecommunications landscape, the debates over net neutrality and related issues. While the possible end of net neutrality would be a serious blow to open communication and free speech on the internet, Copps expressed optimism that grassroots movements would be able to move the needle on this debate in a positive direction.
Yolanda Hippensteele described how the Media Democracy Fund where she acts as Associate Director, was organizing philanthropy for this cause by pooling their resources. Targeted funds such as the Open Internet Defense Fund help focus philanthropic energy where it will have the most impact in the debate on media policy.
Kelly Born, Program Officer, Special Projects and Madison Initiative of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation presented a newly released information resource, Foundation Funding for U.S. Democracy, a data mapping tool that tracks what funders are doing in this space, which was created in partnership with the Foundation Center.
Finally, the group opened up for further discussion and saw a few more examples of content designed to educate the public on contemporary media policy. Todd O’Boyle, Director of Media and Democracy at the Common Cause, shared their web comic “Big Deal Big Money”.