We provide updates from the field as staffers work alongside our amazing allies and activists to create a more just and equitable media system. This installment features updates from both August and September:
- Senior Director of Journalism Policy Mike Rispoli spoke at the Council of State Governments’ annual conference about what states can do to ensure equitable access to local news and information.
- News Voices: Colorado Manager Diamond Hardiman spoke at the Engaged Journalism Exchange, a look at how journalism educators are bringing inclusive and antiracist practices into the classroom.
- News Voices Director Vanessa Maria Graber gave a presentation at the Membership Puzzle Summit on what journalists can learn from organizers about engaging communities during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
- Co-CEO Jessica J. González participated in the panel discussion “Deconstructing the Workspace” at LTX Quest, the largest gathering of Latinx professionals.
- Senior Policy Counsel Carmen Scurato took part in the American Bar Association panel discussion “How Free Is the Free Press?” The conversation explored threats to First Amendment rights, including arrests of reporters covering protests and online harassment of journalists.
- Vanessa Maria participated in 6 ABC’s Belong Speakers Series in Philadelphia, where she discussed the media’s representation of Latinx people, the history of harmful media coverage and how journalists can engage Latinx communities more effectively.
- Free Press’ News Voices: Colorado project, the Colorado Media Project and the Colorado News Collaborative launched the Black Voices Working Group, which released a comprehensive report on how local newsrooms and funders can better serve Black communities. Diamond organized and took part in the related panel discussion “The Time Is Now: A Community Conversation With Black Voices.”
- Diamond and Media 2070 Campaign Manager Venneikia Williams gave a presentation to a “Reporting Race & Justice” class at USC. The conversation centered on the Black Voices work and Free Press’ Media 2070 project. The class shared their dreams for reparations on this padlet.
- A mobile billboard demanding that Facebook ban Team Trump ads in accordance with its suspension of Trump’s accounts circled the company’s D.C. headquarters and Capitol Hill. Free Press Action and Common Cause sponsored the action, with Campaign Manager Rose Lang-Maso taking a leading role.
Senior Counsel and Director, Digital Justice and Civil Rights Nora Benavidez took part in:
- a discussion of “The Critical Roles of Organizing + Local Media in Combating Mis/Disinformation,” hosted by the Funders’ Committee for Civic Participation.
- a conference on Latinx disinformation hosted by Equis Institute, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, the Latino Anti-Disinformation Lab and United We Dream.
- the discussion “Reclaiming Democracy: Protecting Nonprofit Assets Through the Right to Protest,” a look at the anti-protest bills cropping up around the country.
- a Women Donors Network panel discussion on disinformation.
- the panel discussion “Independent Media as a Counterweight to Online Disinformation Targeted Toward Communities of Color Online,” held at a Howard University social-media symposium.
The ongoing video series Free Press Live featured a host of wide-ranging conversations, with Vanessa Maria and Vice President of Cultural Strategy Collette Watson alternating as hosts (and Associate Director of Broadband Policy Dana Floberg popping in as a guest host):
- Local News: Power to the People: The Tiny News Collective provides tools and resources to help communities build sustainable newsrooms. Collette spoke with two of the leaders the organization is working with: Brit Harley, a former Free Press fellow and the founder of Five Wards Media in Newark, New Jersey; and Crystal Good, founder of Black by God in Princeton, West Virginia.
- Free Press Investigates the FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund: Research Director S. Derek Turner’s six-part investigation exposed billions of dollars of waste in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund under the Trump FCC. Vanessa Maria spoke with Derek about the investigation and the work to close the digital divide.
- Let’s Talk About Algorithmic Bias: Biased algorithms encourage users to share deceitful and racist content, boosting profits for Big Tech companies. Nora and Rose spoke with Collette about algorithmic bias and what it will take to build an inclusive digital future for all.
- Louisiana Communications Infrastructure: Hurricane Ida left over 1 million Louisianans without power and over 300,000 without cellphone service. Policy Counsel Leo Fitzpatrick spoke to Vanessa Maria about how Free Press is pushing the FCC to ensure that communications infrastructures everywhere can withstand these types of climate disasters.
- Creating a Just Media System Together: Free Press’ Media 2070 project and more than 100 organizations, journalists and media-makers are calling on the FCC to examine how its policy choices and actions have harmed Black people and other communities of color. Venneikia and Media 2070 co-creator Joseph Torres spoke to Dana about the campaign to push the FCC to reckon with its harmful history.
- Launch of Black Voices Report in Colorado: Diamond and Black Voices Working Group member Ammiee Brown spoke with Vanessa Maria about the Black Voices report discussed above and their experiences organizing in Colorado.
- Facebook’s Trump Loophole: Facebook banned Trump for two years after he used the platform to incite the violent white-supremacist insurrection on the Capitol. But the company is allowing the Team Trump PAC, which the ex-president established and controls, to run ads. Rose and Common Cause’s Yosef Getachew spoke to Collette about the campaign to close the Trump ad loophole.