Center for Community Media at CUNY announces national expansion to help media outlets serving immigrants and communities of color

Organization will support media outlets serving marginalized communities with funding from Knight Foundation, Democracy Fund and Ford Foundation

NEW YORK — January 28, 2019 — The Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY today announced the expansion of its Center for Community Media (CCM) into a national organization. CCM will support news outlets across the country providing essential coverage of people and issues underrepresented in the mainstream media.

The evolution of CCM, previously known as the Center for Community and Ethnic Media, is supported by a $900,000 investment from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The new program is also supported by $400,000 from The Democracy Fund and $150,000 from Ford Foundation.

“The school started the Center in 2012 to offer support to local independent media outlets serving immigrant communities and communities of color in New York,” said Graciela Mochkofsky, executive director of CCM. “The Center achieved its goals through trainings and research, showcasing journalists’ best work, hosting briefings to provide reporters with special access to public officials and civic leaders, and bringing various media outlets together to form a larger network. The demand for this kind of support is even greater now, so we are expanding our work across the country.”

CCM aims to increase the visibility and sustainability of media outlets that primarily serve immigrants and communities of color, often in languages other than English. These outlets suffer from the same business pressures afflicting all news organizations today, according to Mochkofsky, but they also face unique challenges, including a lack of adequate resources for longer periods of time, access to professional training, and limited distribution capacity for the small audiences they serve.

“The Center will help ensure that media outlets and journalists serving marginalized communities in America thrive,” said LaSharah S. Bunting, Knight Foundation director for journalism. “By driving digital transformation, building a strong support network and leveraging training and resources, the Center has the potential to effect change on a national scale, ensuring these outlets are able to continue their essential work.”

Support from Knight Foundation is part of its $300 million initiative announced last year to rebuild the future of local news and information.

While some community media outlets thrive in a digital news environment, many lag behind the adoption of current technologies and techniques to engage audiences. They also remain largely invisible to mainstream media, public officials, the nonprofit sector, advertisers and philanthropic organizations.

The Center will play a key information and networking role by connecting community news outlets across the country to research, tools, funding and training. This will be achieved, in part, through collaborative relationships with regional partners in key locations, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, El Paso and Denver. The Center will also increase the visibility of this sector through research, media mapping projects and public events.

“Throughout history, media outlets led by and designed for immigrants and communities of color have set an example for how newsrooms can represent, engage with, and truly serve their communities — a model that mainstream newsrooms are now starting to adopt,” said Lea Trusty, program associate for engaged journalism with the Public Square Program at Democracy Fund. “This model leads to increased participation in our democracy, which translates to more power for traditionally marginalized communities. We at Democracy Fund are proud to support CCM in increasing the visibility and sustainability of community media across the country.”

The Center already has a number of initiatives planned for 2020, including trainings in both New York and Los Angeles in Spanish for Latinx news media organizations on how to combat disinformation. The Center also plans to establish a reporting fellowship across the U.S.-Mexico border to increase resources for the local press during the presidential election year, and will launch a program to help independent outlets in Chicago get access to advertising dollars.

“CCM’s constituents are part of a vast and diverse universe of media outlets, and programming will be offered to all,” said Mochkofsky.

“The Center for Community Media fills a key role in both studying and aiding a diversifying media landscape, at a time when civic and census coverage needs are pressing. This work helps anchor a diverse array of journalism producers who couldn’t be more needed in our times,” said Farai Chideya, journalism program officer at Ford Foundation.

CCM will also be the home of the school’s existing Latino Media Initiative and a soon-to-be-created Black Media Initiative. Each will host a series of programs designed to provide resources specifically to the Latinx and Black-owned press.

In addition to heading the Newmark J-School’s bilingual Spanish-language master’s degree program, Mochkofsky has produced original research on the state of Latinx news media and created and led a Latino Media Summit that each year draws more than 200 journalists, media executives, and entrepreneurs.

For more information about CCM, contact [email protected]

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ABOUT THE NEWMARK J-SCHOOL
The Newmark J-School is the only publicly funded graduate journalism school in New York and the entire Northeast. Our mission is to serve the public interest by training new journalists who will bring much-needed diversity to newsrooms, by helping mid-career journalists retool their skills, and by partnering with other media organizations to find new paths to excellence.

ABOUT THE JOHN S. AND JAMES L. KNIGHT FOUNDATION
Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit kf.org.

ABOUT THE DEMOCRACY FUND
Created by eBay founder and philanthropist Pierre Omidyar, Democracy Fund is a foundation helping to ensure that our political system can withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. Democracy Fund has invested more than $125 million in support of a healthy, resilient, and diverse democracy with a particular focus on modern elections, effective governance, and a vibrant public square.

ABOUT FORD FOUNDATION
Across eight decades, the Ford Foundation has invested in innovative ideas, visionary individuals, and frontline institutions advancing human dignity around the world. For more, visit fordfoundation.org.


Photo (top) by Skyler Reed, courtesy of CUNY.