How much does it cost to sustain a thriving BIPOC-led and serving journalism ecosystem over the next 10-15 years? What role has/does/could BIPOC journalism play in civic participation? How could Black journalism exist, beautifully, in the public sphere? 

On May 31st, Borealis’ Racial Equity in Journalism Fund (REJ) gathered research, experimentation, and newsroom partners to explore these questions, and the Fund’s guiding north star: What does it feel like, sound like, look like when there’s a thriving, abundant information ecosystem full of Black, Native, Asian, and Latine practitioners serving Black, Native, Asian, and Latine communities?

Below, you’ll find clips of their reflections on this wondering:

WATCH: Colette Watson of Black Future Newsstand describes a vision of what equitable journalism could look like, and the steps the Media 2070 Project is taking to make that a reality. 

“The Media 2070 project and our quest toward media reparations is really one that sees a future where we have abundant resources with which to make this media that loves Black people real. One in which we are no longer having our labor exploited and seeing the profit model for news and information and other media be one that is grounded on and defined by anti-blackness. Instead, we envision a future media where folks are abundant with resources, editorial power, distribution power, creation time and all of the things that are needed to get our stories out into the world via a strong and healthy infrastructure that’s been reshaped and transformed into something completely different from what exists in this time now. We’re not waiting until 2070—we’re doing the work now to demonstrate what that media system looks like what that infrastructure could be and to gather the resources and the power building that’s necessary to make it real through steps we take today”

WATCH: Mukhtar Ibrahim of Sahan Journal provides the perfect example of why centering community voices in journalism and empowering journalists of color is crucial and necessary—while explaining how  Minneapolis’ Sahan Journal rose to prominence after the murder of Geroge Floyd and 2020’s nationwide uprisings.

“Minnesota has a vibrant media environment. We have two newspapers, a radio station and several TV stations but when you go to those websites and listen to the radio or read the paper, you will think Minnesota is not diverse. The stories that are published and broadcasted on those media outlets overlook and misrepresent these stories of communities of color and immigrants in this state, so when I established this [Sahan Journal], I faced a lot of challenges in the philanthropy sector itself. I thought it would be very simple that if someone hears [the stories] they will invest and understand the need to have a news outlet that covers communities of color in a community centered way. 

The murder of George Floyd was a wake up call for a lot of local foundations in the state. We brought in talented journalists of color four days after the murder of George Floyd, and those who are reporters we got through Report for America, and now the biggest history of our time was in our backyard. Now we have reporters dedicated to telling the stories of people who are impacted the most by what we have seen during that time. All of a sudden we got a lot of attention by our coverage [due to] the way we were centering the voice of communities, the way we are inviting the community to talk about issues that matter to them. We are not just covering communities of color — we were convening and talking and bringing them into the newsroom to talk about issues that were happening around the uprising.

WATCH: Dr. Allissa Richardson of Charlotta Bass Journalism and Justice Lab describes the ways in which her three pillar approach to journalism, Save, Study, and Share, empowers aspiring journalists of color by providing various avenues to engage in journalism, and educate the broader public.

“We save, we study, and we share Black media that changed the world. This is born out of a love for the Black press that I’ve always had and [have been trained for]. As I transition to PWIs I want to bring this knowledge with me, and make sure that not only Black students, [but all students] know the importance that Black folks have made using journalism as a tool for activism. 

We have a multimedia archive of virtual [AI storytelling] that we’re building, we have fellowships, and students are launching an app that will chronicle Black landmarks. We are studying social justice journalism, we’re sending students out into the world to report on and to study how African

Americans/Africans throughout the diaspora are using [online media] to create their own news networks. We’re developing new classes at USC, so students from all walks of life can learn about the power of Black journalism. We’re creating [learning opportunities at USC that are accessible] to the general public because we know colleges are inherently elite spaces that exclude… We want to make sure USC’s doors are open and that the public can come in and learn about the things that our students are doing and hear from some of the most decorated journalists of our time”

WATCH: Jess Pierce and Brayn Perlmutter of Piece by Piece share the learnings from their Movement in Media Gathering in which they convened cultural organizers and communicators, nonprofit journalist, donors organizers to dream, vision and strategize around how narrative change and media, meets and impacts the, Movement space.

“Four key learnings that we found were that first, organizational leaders are over capacity and simply just do not have the time or the flexibility to prioritize and focus on building visionary narrative projects, especially if they’re going to be sector ecosystem based projects. Second, grassroots and social movement organizations need more communication and narrative capacity. Our third learning was that generally, in the larger ecosystem, there’s a gap of communications and media training that has a specific movement and social justice political analysis or framework.

The last one we found was that media publications at large are not owned by local communities, which results in community members, as well as  Black, API, Latine folks, journalists and social movement strategists being locked out of key framing and distribution frameworks. This leads to us responding to dominant narratives instead of having proactive or visionary narratives, continuing a broad and deep presence of myths and disinformation.”

WATCH: Dr. Wilneda Negron of the Thriving BIPOC Journalism Project shares the history of BIPOC journalism fundraising, and highlights the financial gaps and the support needed to enable BIPOC community-led journalism to thrive. 

“It actually costs more money to sustain thriving BIPOC media and local news groups… According to the Democracy Fund, nearly $1.2 billion was invested over the course of six years…. That means, $72 million [only 6%] went towards groups that are supporting [BIPOC journalism], and $24 million went to groups that are serving immigrants and migrants. That is a rate of $16 million dollars a year going towards [BIPOC journalism], local news groups or media entrepreneurs…. To properly support the ecosystem, at even the most baseline level, we [need] at least $16 billion a year … so we have an incredible deficit.  The next steps for this work is a broader invitation with the BIPOC journalism and media entrepreneur community to first establish a baseline that should include—even if it’s going to increase the yearly cost— other operating costs and other costs that are essential.”

Borealis Philanthropy’s Racial Equity in Journalism Fund was created to fill a gap and meet a need. As one of the only funds explicitly investing in BIPOC journalism, the size of the gap remains far larger than our capacity. To learn more about how to join us in harvesting the future of reparative and regenerative journalism, please contact