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Independence Public Media Foundation Announces Grants to the MIC Center and the Media Mobilizing Project
The grants will support the work of Associate Professor Todd Wolfson, who is co-founder and co-director of the Media, Inequality & Change Center (MIC) and a member of the MMP Board of Directors.
Independence Public Media Foundation Announces Grants to the MIC Center and the Media Mobilizing Project

The Board of Directors of Independence Public Media of Philadelphia announced a new round of grants today, including $3.6 million to six organizations representing key partners for advancing the foundation’s vision for the Philadelphia region as a hotbed for creative media makers.

Additionally, 17 organizations, either focused primarily on media, or that have innovative media projects, were nominated by community members to receive $25,000 grants each, totaling $425,000. “With this round of grants, we are exploring the boundaries of creative media making, including media making for movement building, and community-led storytelling to bring new information and narratives to light,” said the foundation’s president Molly de Aguiar.

She added, “We are committed to investing in the people and organizations who can build and strengthen networks, and foster wide-ranging, collaborative partnerships across the region.” $2.6 million in this round will support a large-scale collaborative project between Media Mobilizing Project, Free Press, and the Media, Inequality, & Change Center (MIC), focusing on violence, safety, and the impact of criminal justice narratives on the region. The three-year project aims to understand how social change happens, the media’s role in creating obstacles and opportunities for change, and what innovative, community-centered media and media making can and should look like in the region. Based on outreach and relationship-building with residents and reporters, field scans and other research, the three organizations will tailor interventions with Philadelphia neighborhoods and newsrooms to support communities in telling their own stories, amplifying their solutions, and changing culture and practices within local newsrooms.

Media, Inequality and Change Center (MIC)

Awarded $798,000

The MIC Center occupies the intersection of technology, policy, and social justice. It is committed to studying the political economy of social problems, media, and democracy, while engaging local activist projects, and drawing connections with national and international social movements.

Over the three-year grant, MIC will lead two integrated research projects focused on Philadelphia’s local media ecosystem. Mapping media institutions will be a multi-year, multi-phase study employing mixed methods and resulting in an in-depth, structural analysis of the region’s news media. MIC’s community network analysis will employ a political economic framework that assesses the ownership and control of local media as well as how communities harness media to make positive social change.  Drawing on our deep national and international networks, MIC will cross-fertilize best practices, amplify findings, and facilitate dialogue across the city and beyond.

As part of this project, MIC also will provide regular opportunities for project partners and community organizations to meet, share data, and collaborate with researchers, practitioners, and organizations engaged in similar work in other locations domestically and internationally. The project as a whole will contribute to new knowledge about the interrelationships between media, organizing, and social change. It will also shed light on the ways in which our local media ecosystem upholds systems of power. Ultimately, our aim is to outline a vision for remaking media in ways that reflect communities’ information needs, especially around vitally important social issues such as inequality and criminal justice.

MIC is a collaboration between the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School and Rutgers University’s School of Communication and Information. The Center explores the intersections between media, democracy, technology, policy, and social justice. MIC produces engaged research and analysis while collaborating with community leaders to help support activist initiatives and policy interventions. The Center’s objective is to develop a local-to-national strategy that focuses on communication issues important to local communities and social movements in the region, while also addressing how these local issues intersect with national and international policy challenges.

The Center’s core principles are to research, educate, connect, and engage. MIC accomplishes this by assessing social movement strategies and democratic deployments of technology; contributing to policy interventions that encourage structural reform; committing to long-term field building in political economy, media, policy and technology studies and other cognate areas; assisting social justice campaigns, and making material interventions around media and democracy. Bringing together scholars, journalists, policy makers, activists, philanthropists, and diverse constituencies, MIC strives to create more democratic media systems that serve community needs. MIC has successfully stewarded funds from the Lenfest Foundation, OSF, MDF, and multiple academic institutions in the course of its activities and grant programs.

Media Mobilizing Project

Awarded $1,001,945

Media Mobilizing Project works with movements to amplify the voices of communities fighting for justice, equity and human rights. Through media production, coalition building, training and advocacy, MMP builds relationships of solidarity, power and mutual support.

Through this three-year grant, in collaboration with Free Press and Media, Inequality, Change Center, MMP will convene and connect community-based organizations and local leaders in an educational and strategic visioning process that will lead to action-taking to reshape narratives around safety, trauma, and violence. In this work, MMP and their community partners will center, support, and help cohere people impacted by violence and the criminal-justice system.

In the Media

Free Press: “Transforming Criminal-Legal System Reporting in Philadelphia

For more information about the Department of Journalism and Media Studies at the Rutgers School of Communication and Information (SC&I), click here

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