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The 2021 Media Impact Forum
Session 4 is Wednesday, May 19
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This is where you’ll find recaps of each our six Media Impact Forum sessions. This year’s Media Impact Forum paid specific attention to philanthropic support for environmental media and the need for our decisions to be centered around protecting our planet and its natural resources. The recorded sessions appear in chronological order below.


Agenda

Date: Tuesday, June 9 | 1-2:30 p.m. ET
Climate Now!

In this session, we heard about climate activism, philanthropy’s role in supporting climate media, and global threats to civil society. Award-winning journalist Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! interviewed marine biologist, policy expert and strategist Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson about her work to protect the oceans and efforts to help communities to find climate change solutions. We then heard from Academy Award and Emmy-winning actress and activist Jane Fonda about her perspective on the importance of media in climate activism. Goodman then took the role of interviewee in a dialogue with Alex Jakana, former BBC journalist and current program officer of Global Media Partnerships at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Ellen Dorsey, executive director of the Wallace Global Fund. They discussed the growing threat of extractive industries in bolstering the rise of authoritarian regimes, even as they degrade the environment.

  • Amy Goodman, journalist and co-host of Democracy Now!
  • Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Founder and CEO, Ocean Collectiv & Founder, Urban Ocean Lab
  • Jane Fonda, Academy Award-winning actress, producer, author and activist
  • Alex Jakana, Program Officer, Global Media Partnerships at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Ellen Dorsey, Executive Director of Wallace Global Fund

Find the full transcript here.

How’d we do?

If you joined the session, we’d love to hear what you thought.  Fill out the survey.

Resources

Below, you’ll find a few articles shared during the session:

  1. I’m a black climate expert. Racism derails our efforts to save the planet. —A perspective piece written by Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson in the Washington Post.
  2. To Save the Climate, Look to the Oceans — A Scientific American Opinion piece written by Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson

Date: Thursday, June 11 | 1-2:30 p.m. ET
Sharing stories from the front lines: Support and security for activists, indigenous communities, and journalists

In this session, we heard about how the Ford Foundation and the National Geographic Society co-created a fellowship for journalists and indigenous storytellers in the Global South highlighting ecosystem-scale stories and solutions-oriented attempts to mitigate or reverse human impact on rainforests. Indigenous storyteller Michael McGarrell, a fellow with the new initiative, shared details about the work he’s producing on the Gayana Rainforest. We also heard about the growing threats facing environmental journalists and activists, and what several organizations—Doc Society, Global Press Institute and WITNESS—are doing to keep them safe.

  • Tracy Rector, Managing Director, Storytelling, Nia Tero (moderator)
  • Rachael Strecher, Storytelling Grants, Programs and Fellowships at National Geographic
  • Marc Climaco, Strategic Communications Officer, Ford Foundation
  • Michael McGarrell, National Geographic Explorer
  • Molly Bingham, founder and Board Chair, Orb Media (moderator)
  • Laxmi Parthasarathy, Chief Operating Officer, Global Press Institute
  • Priscila Neri, Associate Director, Programs, WITNESS
  • Prash Naik, General Counsel, Doc Society, Principal at Prash Naik Consulting

Find the full transcript here.

How’d we do?

If you joined the session, we’d love to hear what you thought.  Fill out the survey.

Resources

Below, you’ll find a few articles shared during the session:

  1. Stories of Tropical Rainforests RFP from National Geographic in partnership with the Ford Foundation.
  2. Many free resources for activists on themes related to security planning, consent, ethics in the WITNESS Library.
  3. A selection of resources curated specifically for COVID times from WITNESS.
  4. Stanford Social Innovation Review Article — The piece highlights 3 steps every global organization can take to care for local staff and highlights how we managed to navigate an ebola epidemic in DRC, the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka and other heightened crises. A summary of three lessons are:
    1. Gather an accurate local picture of the crisis
    2. Focus on team members mental health and well-being
    3. Heed local constraints and priorities
  5. Duty of Care program at Global Press – focuses on legal, physical, emotional and digital security for local reporters when evacuation is not an option. 75% of our program is about policies, protocols and institutionalized practices, 20% is training, and 5% is on crisis response.
  6. Global Press Institute invested in building a network of professional wellness counselors who are available for unlimited private sessions in the reporter’s local language. In 2020 Global Press received the Chester M Pierce Human Rights Award from the American Psychiatric Association for their Duty of Care Program.
  7. Safe + Secure (Handbook, Checklist and Hostile Filming Protocol) designed to help filmmakers and funders anticipate and manage the physical, digital, journalistic, reputational and legal risks faced by film teams and subjects.
  8. Independent Documentary: Filming in the Time of Corona – A live filming protocol to help guide filmmakers and funders risk assessment process about whether you could or should film during the pandemic.
  9. Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma – A resource and training centre for best practice reporting of violence, conflict and tragedy including the protection of journalists (PTSD & mental health, self-care and peer support).

Date: Tuesday, June 16 | 1-2:30 p.m. ET
The Daily Planet: Environmental journalism around the world

Environmental journalism can make a lasting impact on every level – local, regional, national and international. We heard about a range of local and regional projects, including Code Red: Baltimore’s Climate Divide, as well as Covering Climate Now, a global coalition of media outlets sharing climate-related content among more than 400 members, including pioneers such as The Guardian. We also heard from Climate Central, a powerful news network that connects scientists and journalists, bringing the latest climate science to a vast audience.

  • Norris West, Director of Strategic Communications, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Media Impact Funders Board Member (moderator)
  • Rafael Lorente, Associated Dean for Academic Affairs, Philip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland
  • Joseph Lichterman, Manager of editorial and digital strategy, Lenfest Institute for Journalism
  • Melissa Davis, Vice President of Strategic Communications & Informed Communities, Gates Family Foundation
  • Vince Stehle, Executive Director, Media Impact Funders (moderator)
  • Rachel White, Executive Vice President of Philanthropic and Strategic Partnerships, Guardian News & Media
  • Jane Spencer, Deputy Editor and Head of Strategy, The Guardian
  • Mark Hertsgaard, Executive Director of Covering Climate Now
  • Al Roker, Weather and Feature Anchor, Today and Co-Host of 3rd Hour, TODAY
  • Ben Strauss, CEO and Chief Scientist of Climate Central

Find the full transcript here.

How’d we do?

If you joined the session, we’d love to hear what you thought.  Fill out the survey.

Resources

Below, you’ll find a few articles and resources shared during the session:

  1. Learn more about Code Red, Baltimore’s Climate Divide that Rafael Lorente discussed.
  2. Learn more about the From the Source collaboration covering the Delaware River watershed and the Good River collaboration covering the Ohio River watershed that Joseph Lichterman presented.
  3. Learn more about the National Geographic Photo Camp that Joseph Lichterman referred to.
  4. Learn more about The Water Desk, an initiative of the Center for Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado Boulder.
  5. Find several examples of Covering Climate Now content:
    1. Michael Mann’s Guardian piece – Australia, your country is burning – dangerous climate change is here with you now.
    2. Mark Hertsgaard article — Indigenous Leaders Press Briefing — The Coronavirus Connection
    3. Sonia Shah’s piece on deforestation —Think Exotic Animals Are to Blame for the Coronavirus? Think Again.
    4. El Pais’s UN Secretary General interview — conducted by Amanda Mars of El País

Date: Thursday, June 18 | 1-2:30 p.m. ET
Environmental media grantmaking: The latest data from MIF

Media Impact Funders published a new report highlighting trends in environmental media grantmaking. The report’s findings show that funders are increasing their investments in environmental work more broadly, and media focused on the environment, specifically. MIF’s Communications Director Nina Sachdev and research consultant Sarah Armour-Jones shared the top-level findings of the report, which also featured essays from colleagues in the field about their support for environmental media. We heard from those funders and engaged in a dialogue with them about their work and what they’re seeing in the field.

  • Nina Sachdev, Communications Director, Media Impact Funders (moderator)
  • Sarah Armour-Jones, Research Consultant, Media Impact Funders
  • Christie George, Senior Advisor, New Media Ventures, Board Member of Media Impact Funders (moderator)
  • Diane Ives, Fund advisor for People, Place and Planet, Kendeda Fund
  • Andrew Simon, Director of Leadership Programming, Grist
  • Devon Terrill, Program Officer, Journalism and Media, Stanley Center for Peace and Security
  • Meaghan Calcari Campbell, Program Officer, Marine Conservation Initiative, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

Find the full transcript here.

How’d we do?

If you joined the session, we’d love to hear what you thought.  Fill out the survey.

Resources

Below, you’ll find a few articles and resources shared during the session:

  1. Our new report—Environmental Media Grantmaking: How funders are tipping the scale towards change.
  2. Our media grants data map.
  3. In her remarks, Sarah Armour-Jones refers to two environmental media examples:
    1. Valen’s Reef
    2. The Year’s Project
  4. Here is a relevant blog post written by Libra Foundations’ President Crystal Hayling: Funding the Heat
  5. Andrew Simon from Grist shared some relevant links:
    1. Senior staff writer Yvette Cabrera’s recent piece ‘Ring down the curtain’: What protests mean for a nation already in crisis, which ties together intersections between the environmental justice movement and the current protests around racial injustice
    2. Staff writer Naveena Sadasivam’s recent piece on criminalizing protesting
    3. A roundup of voices from our Fix leadership network entitled “Why racial justice is climate justice” \
    4. A recent live chat Grist cohosted featuring members of our Environmental Journalists of Color cohort, including CityLab staff writer Brentin Mock, Earther senior staff writer Yessenia Funes, ProPublica reporter Talia Buford, and Yvette Cabrera of Grist. The theme was “COVID-19, Climate Justice, and Communities of Color. What’s next?”
  6. Meaghan Calcari-Campbell shared the following links:
    1. Green Fire films that the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation has supported:
    2. Society of Environmental Journalists’ Fund for Environmental Journalism.
    3. The initial Great Bear Institute that the Moore Foundation supported with the Institute of Journalism and Natural Resources is still producing stories five years later. Here are a few of my favorite pieces or ones that keep track of what the Institute fellows are doing now:
    4. Institute of Journalism and Natural Resources’ travel grant program for marine Indingeous Protected and Conserved Areas.
  7. Examples of a Stanley Center collaborative reporting fellowship around UN Climate Summits:
    1. Nine freelance media professionals from Latin America have been awarded a fellowship to attend and report from COP25 in Madrid, Spain this December.
    2. Young climate journalists seize opportunity to cover a week of key climate events in New York

Date: Tuesday, June 23 | 1-2:30 p.m. ET
Taken for granted: Looking at our relationship with the planet

In this session, National Geographic photographer, researcher and explorer Pete Muller shared stories around the concept of solastalgia, a sense of emotional distress people feel when they lose their home environment. Building on that premise, we then turned to a conversation with climate activists and storytellers Michael Premo and Vic Barrett, on the devastating impact of Hurricane Sandy and how it ignited their activism. Lastly, Kaitlin Yarnall, National Geographic’s Chief Storytelling Officer, and Tim Isgitt Managing Director of Humanity United—both members of the Board of Directors of Media Impact Funders—talked with investigative journalist Ian Urbina about his book Outlaw Ocean and the multi-platform media strategies associated with the book. The Outlaw Ocean project is a journalistic exploration of lawlessness at sea around the world, a part of the environment that has been greatly disrupted by the impacts of climate change.

  • Kaitlin Yarnall, Chief Storytelling Officer, National Geographic Society, Media Impact Funders Board Member (moderator)
  • Pete Muller, Photographer, National Geographic Society
  • Michael Premo, Executive Producer, Storyline
  • Vic Barrett, Democracy Organizer, Alliance for Climate Education
  • Tim Isgitt, Managing Director, Humanity United, Media Impact Funders Board Member
  • Ian Urbina, Investigative Reporter

Find the full transcript here.

How’d we do?

If you joined the session, we’d love to hear what you thought.  Fill out the survey.

Resources

Below, you’ll find a few links and resources shared during the session:

  1. Pete Muller’s COVID and Environmental Change piece.
  2. Learn more about Michael Premo’s film Water Warriors. Now streaming free from POV on PBS.
  3. Listen to The Outlaw Ocean Music Project.

Date: Thursday, June 25 | 1-2:30 p.m. ET
Session: Civic Science: Lessons from research and implications for our learning agenda

We heard about the importance of supporting evidence-based media to illuminate the impact of climate change and the ways in which a science-informed public can help to make better policy choices. Then we heard from three academic researchers on effective communication strategies that can move the public to take action. And the award-winning film production team at Exposure Labs shared details on a collaborative initiative called Climate Story Lab, which works with storytellers to share climate action stories rooted in effective communications strategies.

  • Elizabeth Christopherson, President, Rita Allen Foundation, Media Impact Forum Board Member
  • Karen Andrade, Ph.D, Civic Science Fellow, Science Philanthropy Alliance
  • Annie Neimand, Director of Research, Ph.D, Center for Public Interest Communications, College of Journalism and Communications, University of Florida (moderator)
  • Gordon Kraft-Todd, Postdoctoral fellow, Boston College
  • Katherine Dale, Assistant professor, Florida State University
  • Davin Phoenix, Associate Professor, University of California, Irvine
  • Megha Agrawal-Sood, Program Director, Exposure Labs

Find the full transcript here.

How’d we do?

If you joined the session, we’d love to hear what you thought.  Fill out the survey.

Resources

Below, you’ll find a few links and resources shared during the session:

  1. Cambridge UP has made Dr. Phoenix’s book, The Anger Gap: How Race Shapes Emotion in Politics, one of a few race-related books available to read/download for free through July 12.
  2. Learn more about Climate Story Lab.
  3. Here is the values and climate change study that Dr. Kraft-Todd described.
About the Author
Media Impact Funders

Media Impact Funders

Contact us

Media Impact Funders traces its roots back to the Council on Foundations, a longtime philanthropy-serving organization. Formerly Grantmakers in Film, Video & Television, MIF began on a volunteer basis in 1984 as an affinity group for funders interested in the power of film to highlight social issues. Reflecting changes in technology and media behavior over the past decade, it was renamed Grantmakers in Film & Electronic Media (GFEM) and formally incorporated in 2008 to advance the field of media arts and public interest media funding. It had 45 members and was headed by former MacArthur Foundation Program Officer Alyce Myatt. GFEM was renamed Media Impact Funders in 2012 and has since expanded its strategy to include a broad range media funding interests such as journalism, immersive technologies, media policy and more. Since that time, MIF has grown to more than 80 organizational members representing some of the largest foundations, and holds more than 40 in-person and online events yearly.