URL Media Weekly
Friday, December 16, 2022
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What We're Talking About

Money doesn't grow from trees — or does it? 

As a news founder, covering your community is sometimes easier than asking for money 

In late October, the news outlet I founded, The Riverside Record, launched its first-ever fundraising campaign with the help of the Institute of Nonprofit News’ Newsmatch program.

Fundraising doesn’t come naturally to me. I’d much rather be out in the community covering many holiday events and hearing what’s important to folks who live and work in Riverside County, Calif. — especially those who don’t feel like their information needs are being met. But the only way I can continue to do that vital work is to actively ask folks for their donations.

And I’m not alone.

Andrew Hazzard, a climate reporter at Sahan Journal, wrote this in a recent fundraising appeal: “Reader support for Sahan Journal is critical to keeping our reporting staff out in the field. “With your help, we can continue this important work.”

At Capital B, a Black-led, national news organization, which launched earlier this year, editorial director Simone Sebastian highlighted the newsroom’s most impactful reporting to make its appeal to readers. “We’ve produced follow-up pieces and will continue to report on the [Jackson, Mississippi] water crisis because we know it matters to our readers,” she wrote. “This work takes a lot of time and money to produce. But these stories need to be told.”

And in a recent fundraising appeal, The Objective's editor and co-founder, Gabe Schneider, wrote that the outlet's funds primarily go to paying its contributors. “Considering all of the work we’ve published these past two years, I’m confident that with dedicated staff, we could go well beyond doubling our efforts,” he wrote.

The work of fundraising can often feel like an uphill battle, especially for leaders of color. In 2020, social entrepreneurship funding organization Echoing Green and nonprofit consultancy Bridgespan collaborated on a study looking at racial inequities in philanthropic funding. The study found that, on average, the revenues of early-stage Black-led organizations are 24% smaller than the revenues of their white-led counterparts. When it comes to funding, the unrestricted net assets of Black-led organizations are 76% smaller than their white-led peer organizations.

“When it comes to funders, I think there's a lot of focus on scalable solutions, which is great to an extent,” Schneider told me in a recent email. “But at the same time, I see a huge lack of focus on smaller BIPOC-founded community outlets that are struggling.”

Schneider continued: “It's hard to watch this dynamic when there is a steady stream of white-led media start-ups that obtain start-up capital without anyone batting an eye. Donations, memberships, and subscriptions are great ways to sustain an outlet. And it's nice when training programs are offered. But community-focused outlets, especially outlets that are experimenting, need [a] runway to test out their work and their model.”

The other part of this funding puzzle is that Black and Brown-led newsrooms tend to focus their coverage on underserved communities, and asking these communities for funding isn’t always practical.

“I don't think there's explicit harm in making the ask, but the expectation that communities that have been failed by journalism in the past should give what resources they have to journalism doesn't really make sense,” Schneider said. “The current prospects for journalism to run as a business, as it once did, [don’t] make sense when considering smaller cities or counties.”

Another issue Schneider brought up when talking about funding — and it’s one I have also run into — is that funders tend to emphasize grants geared toward specific coverage or projects. If a newsroom is already doing that work, that’s a great way to bring in extra revenue to support it. But, at the end of the day, what small newsrooms need are unrestricted funds that can be used to keep the lights on while reporters are out there doing the work in their communities. It’s why a significant pillar of URL Media’s model is to share advertising revenues with both the for-profit and nonprofit Black and Brown newsrooms in our network, putting financial sustainability more within reach for these high-performing publications.

Please consider making a donation — or purchasing a subscription or membership — to BIPOC-led news media organizations this holiday season. Your generosity will have an immediate impact on their ability to continue to operate. —Alicia Ramirez

Uplift. Respect. Love.


Want to give?

Each week, URL Media's network partners provide you with excellent reporting. You can support their work by making a donation if you're able.

  • Gifts made to Scalawag will be tripled if you donate between now and the end of the year.
  • For Outlier Media, Newsmatch will match your new monthly donation 12 times or double your one-time gift, all up to $1,000.
Staying Strong

Sponsored by McKinsey & Company

Starting strong: The best CEOs use the first six to 12 months of their tenure as a moment of great personal transition and institutional renewal. There are four keys to success. Read here.

Uplifting our Communities

A man wearing a white jumpsuit in a lab.
Entrepreneurs of color demand equity and access in a revived effort to legalize recreational marijuana in Minnesota: ​​The prospects of legalizing recreational marijuana in Minnesota became more viable when the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party unexpectedly took control of the state House and Senate after last month’s election. DFL Gov. Tim Walz also won a second term in the same election and has signaled that legalizing marijuana will be a priority for him in the next legislative session. Sahan Journal has the full story here.

From a fishing village to the streets of Port-au-Prince: Last year, Kerline Saint-Fort lived with her husband and five children in her home in Carrefour Minoterie, a small village about nine miles north of the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince. Her husband, Tijeune Norzeus, worked as a fisherman, while Saint-Fort sold his fishing crops at nearby markets. But in March, Norzeus died at sea just as Saint-Fort, 34, became pregnant with their sixth child. About eight months later, gangs took over Minoterie, forcing the mother and her children to flee. Read more from The Haitian Times.

‘Tridemic’ warning as RSV, Covid-19 and flu cases rise: Public health officials are warning the public about a ‘tridemic’ as Covid-19 cases begin to rise again while RSV-related hospitalizations climb and flu cases skyrocket. Read more here from Black Voice News.

Faulty information about immigrants can lead to family separation and denied asylum claims: A new report by the legal advocacy nonprofit National Immigrant Justice Center says foreign data sharing agreements — expanded during the Trump era — are still being used by the Biden Administration to separate families and deny asylum claims with little oversight or agency for those who are falsely accused. Documented, in partnership with Type Investigations, has the full story here.

Gun violence and policing in America: 🎧 Our Body Politic is replaying some of host Farai Chideya’s key interviews with three women of color exploring the impact of U.S. gun violence and policing in America. Featured in the episode are activist, therapist, and mother, Nelba Marquéz-Greene; Samaria Rice, mother of Tamir Rice; and former Dallas Police Chief Reneé Hall. Listen to the full episode here.

Are police helicopters worth the cost?: Los Angeles’ police and sheriff’s departments have amassed among the largest helicopter units of any local law enforcement agencies in the world, costing city and county residents tens of millions of dollars each year for patrols that disproportionately hover over lower-income Black and Brown neighborhoods and lack persuasive evidence of crime reduction, according to government records. palabra., in partnership with Capital & Main, has the story here.

The ‘chicken salad’ pipeline: Nish Godfrey became a TikTok sensation earlier this year after a video of her eating chicken salad at a deli in Cleveland, Ohio, racked up millions of views. "Y'all better come up here and get one of these," she says immediately as the video starts. Last week, Godfrey posted another video with a chicken salad — only this time it was an advertisement for WW (formerly Weight Watchers). “Normally it makes me so giddy to see nonwhite TikTok creators get sponsorships to make some money off the talent that propels the addictive app,” Scalawag reporter and editor Ko Bragg writes. “This, however, actually pissed me off on multiple fronts.” Read more here.

On Breonna Taylor and Brittney Griner: 🎧 Roxanne Jones, co-author of “Say It Loud: An Illustrated History of the Black Athlete,” joined Wake Up With WURD’s Solomon Jones to talk about the latest fallout from Breonna Taylor’s death, the Russian detentions of Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan. Listen to the full interview here.

This violent lie made the US fear Black children: The term “super-predator” first appeared in a 1995 Weekly Standard article, predicting a rise of “radically impulsive, brutally remorseless” Black youth. The theory painted Black boys and children as dangerous criminals, and even though juvenile crime rates had fallen dramatically by the time the article was published, media organizations took the trope and “ran with it,” creating widespread panic. Read more from PushBlack.


Respecting & Honoring Arts & Culture

Advocates use fashion to promote abolition and illustrate the toll of incarceration: Three chunky pairs of boots, first purchased in a Southern Illinois prison where writer and artist Rocko has been incarcerated since 2016, were on display this past September at an exhibit featuring the work of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated artists. Displayed at a small gallery in New York’s Lower East Side, the pieces were there not just for fashion’s sake, but as a way to spur deeper considerations about prison life. Prism has the full story here.
NAMA winners Buffalo Weavers spread message of unity, climate healing: The musical duo Buffalo Weavers comprises Strong Buffalo, 76, who reads poetry, and Ben Weaver, 43, who plays the banjo and guitar. “Our style of music is our own and, together, we are poets,” says Strong Buffalo about the group’s music. “We strive to address issues that are going on today: the climate, the earth, and life.” The pair won “Best New Duo/Group” at this year’s Native American Music Awards. Read more from Native News Online.

Centering Love

A person gets food in an auditorium where people are serving meals.
Nine organizations keeping Detroiters housed this winter — and how to support them: Many Detroit organizations work to provide individuals and families with emergency shelter, supportive housing, eviction and property tax assistance, supplemental rent and more. And as the days grow colder, and nights get longer, the need for support is greater than ever. Find out how you can help in this piece from Outlier Media.

What We're Loving This Week From Our Partners

A BIPOC-centered gift guide for food, spirits and cool stuff: If you’re still searching for the perfect gift this holiday season, then look no further than this eclectic gift guide from Epicenter-NYC. Whether you’re looking to gift homegoods or experiences, food or spirits, this guide has a little bit of something for everyone on your list — and what makes it even better is its eye toward local, independent, mostly POC-owned places. You can check it out here.
A woman with a brownish blonde afro dressed in a water suit in front of waves.
As we head into the final weeks of 2022, we're highlighting this interview with Tara Roberts, a National Geographic Storytelling Explorer, and Charles Ellison of WURD's Reality Check from earlier this year. Over the past few years, the explorer has documented her adventures following a group of Black scuba divers as they search for sunken shipwrecks during the transatlantic slave trade around the world. "What makes [this work] unique is that there is this group of Black folks who are saying 'This is a part of my history and I'm going to be a part of finding it and I'm going to be a part of sharing [this story] with the world,'" said Roberts. 

🌍🎧 Listen to this fascinating interview here.

Our Founders

Sara Lomax-Reese, CEO of WURD Radio, media entrepreneur for almost 30 years, served as Program Lead for the inaugural Facebook BIPOC Sustainability Accelerator and is currently a JSK Fellow.
S. Mitra Kalita, former SVP at CNN Digital, current CEO & Publisher at Kalita Mukul Creative Inc., which publishes Epicenter-NYC, The Unmuted and The Escape Home, has worked at The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The LA Times, and has launched brands like Mint and Quartz.

 Our Partners 

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