RJI will provide seed money and administrative support to the partnership, and MMCA and Dynasty will develop the engagement strategies and facilitate pilot projects with individual publishers. Over the next several months, they will share learnings from the project with the journalism industry, the economic development finance community, policymakers and the public at large.
The two other pilot publishers are:
The Community Voice — A multi-platform statewide publication that serves Kansas’ African-American community
The Times Weekly — An independently minority and woman-owned media corporation that serves nine communities southwest of Chicago
“Multicultural media have long played a critical role in the civic, social and economic health of communities,” said MMCA cofounder David Morgan. “They are connectors and convenors. They create jobs. They are trusted sources of relevant, actionable and often life-saving information for the very populations that community-centered financing was created to serve."
"When you look at this project it’s hard not to see a virtuous cycle,” added Randy Picht, RJI’s executive director. “Funding that’s already earmarked to bolster opportunity and make a community stronger is used to revitalize an important community resource — a news organization — and that news organization uses the funding to improve its own infrastructure and build more capacity to better serve the community.”
Philanthropic support for community media tends to be temporary, project-based or too small to justify the effort required to pursue it. In many cases, it’s a distraction for what media outlets so desperately need: a sustainable business model and the capacity to implement it.
It often puts news outlets at odds with needed capital to develop infrastructure and robust revenue strategies while investors are reluctant to provide it because media lacks a strong business model.
This is a problem RJI, MMCA and Dynasty are working to address.
“It is nearly impossible to actualize a strategic growth plan without capital investment and people power. The strategies require planning, personnel, time commitment, creativity, and access to technology and resources which may not exist in a daily operational budget,” said David Beckford, cofounder of Dynasty.
“There are so many experiments and tasks needed to better connect with an audience — most of which can overwhelm an already fatigued newsroom that is short on cash and staff to begin with. The bright side is we have demonstrated how direct investment can lead to the acquisition of talent and other resources that move an entire organization forward in a way that grows revenue and addresses these foundational issues.”