The Online News Association and The Pivot Fund announced a partnership to bolster independent news media that are owned by Black, indigenous, people of color journalists and that serve those constituencies and communities.
Founded in 2021 by Tracie Powell, The Pivot Fund seeks to raise $500 million to provide grant assistance, training and consulting services to BIPOC-led new-media ventures and legacy organizations. With nearly 3,000 members, ONA brings together digital media professionals such as writers, editors, photographers, videographers, journalism professors and students.
Irving Washington, executive director and CEO of ONA, said in a release, “We believe in The Pivot Fund’s mission to center and invest in culturally competent local news created by and for people the journalism industry has typically left out, and we’re excited to offer our organizational expertise to advance its mission.”
Powell is a member of ONA, a Fall 2021 Shorenstein Center Research Fellow, and is a leader in establishing philanthropic efforts to improve diversity in journalism, in staffing and in what stories are covered and how. She said in a release, “I am thrilled to partner with ONA because it means The Pivot Fund will be able to deepen and scale our impact more quickly. This is more than a fiscal sponsor relationship; it’s a mutually beneficial partnership that will produce game-changing investments in BIPOC-led community news through funding, capacity building, training, and opportunities for collaborative journalism.”
Powell pointed out that much attention in the online sphere goes to ventures such as the one to be launched by Ben Smith, formerly editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed News and media columnist for The New York Times. Smith declared, “There are 200 million people who are college educated, who read in English, but who no one is really treating like an audience, but who talk to each other and talk to us. That’s who we see as our audience.”
While “there’s nothing wrong with that,” Powell said, other audiences are underserved and the news outlets that reach them can benefit from what The Pivot Fund offers. It is about “supporting news outlets that are already engaged in trusted relationships with the millions of people who may or may not speak English or are bilingual, might not have college degrees, and traditionally have never been treated as an audience in which corporate media outlets are interested,” Powell said “community-based news outlets that serve these communities by providing credible, quality, fact-based news and information they need to make more informed decisions about their lives.”