BUILDING the FEMINIST GENDER JUSTICE PUBLIC SPHERE

Moving Toward A New Fund for Gender Justice Media organizations, outlets, & projects

Report by Ariel Dougherty, National Project Coordinator, Women’s Media Equity Collaborative
December 2009 ArielCamera@gmail.com 575-89-1844

Social/Political Context of Year July 08-July 09 In July 2008 off our backsi announced they did not have funds to publish the Peace issue. The women’s community rallied with support. A month later Bitch had a short-fall of $40K to print its next issue. Again supporters stepped up to the plate. Women’s Magazine (KPFA) relinquished its time slot for election coverage in the Fall of ‘08, and still today is struggling to get its airtime back. The recession unglued another layer in the fragile women’s media* community. Chica Luna, a vital partnering organization in this project, as of August 2009 no longer able to pay staff, shifted tasks back to volunteers. With funds so tight, expenses rising (i.e. mailing rates) who knows where the axe falls next? In contrast, in September 2008 the IRS announced that as of 2005 women surpassed men as the primary givers. No mainstream media (MSM) ran articles on this story. In April, 2009, the highly successful Women Moving Millions campaign (1st phase) ended a full $28MM ahead of its $150MM goal. Yet, during the public phase (launched November 2008) of this campaign there was almost no MSM coverage despite a sizeable publicity effort. Within gender justice media outlets, Women’s eNews alone ran a spectacular 14 articles! Project Mission and Funding The MSM does not cover women’s policy discussions, feminist reporting is absent, and there are rarely accurate stories about real women and girls’ lives. Women’s Media Equity Collaborative (WMEC) seeks to advance a strong and dynamic mutli-faceted, many purposed social justice feminist media which amplifies from our own points of view a dialogue of feminist thinking, culture, policy and content. Absent of strong new sources of funding, present feminist media will cease to exist. From July 2008 though July 2009 WMEC, lead by two scholars—Drs Lisa McLaughlin and Susan Feiner—and four practitioners—Lillian Jiménez, Shireen Mitchell, Lisa Rudman and Ariel Dougherty—and largely funded by Social Science Research Council (SSRC): 1) conducted a needs assessment survey of the field of women centered media, initially estimated to be about 350 organizations, outlets and projects; 2) identified possible sustainable funding models; and 3) convened a meeting of 60 practitioners from the field of women’s media. Specifically funds from Third Wave Foundation ($1500), On the Issues magazine ($1500) and Ms Foundation for Women ($3000) along with support from Free Press ($200) and Women Make Movies ($250) enabled WMEC to offer 36 scholarships totaling $7715. This vital support allowed for a dynamic and broad representation of women in terms of age, background, geography, mothers, race, LGBTQ, and media to attend this national working Summit. Summit In a single day Summit participants created an elaborated Vision, outlined several Tangible Tools, and discussed the relationship between resources and philosophical/political shifts. Much of the Visioning turned resourcing on its ear. We “started from what we want…..not what is allowed." Under Tangible Tools numerous collective fund raising strategies were outlined. We remain especially attuned to the “deep need for clarity around gender and inclusiveness.” The group was upbeat and we shared a positive attitude vis-a-vis building a new fund--even amidst moments of tension and disagreement. At the same time we recognize significant hurdles. Key among these were: challenges to the term “women,”; for some, "safety" was a concern; the term “equity” was debated; and the dynamic of intergenerational distribution of power was underscored. By late afternoon, just as the agenda moved to outlining the specifics on a new
Media Equity Collaborative
Fiscal sponsor: International Media Project

End of Year Report 2009

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fund, unresolved issues re-emerged. Shared commitments to collaboration and partnership allowed us to refocus the discussion in favor of what was perceived as a premature attempt to move forward on designs for a specific fund. Survey Extensive survey findings are summarized below. (A 4 page analysis of key data, was presented at the Summit; 56 pages of responses to open-ended questions are still to be analyzed.) One-hundred-and-two organizations responded in May 2009 to the WMEC survey (via Survey Monkey) of 21 questions to 350 women’s media organizations, groups and projects. Despite every possible prediction of low morale given the recession, the WMEC survey found a very upbeat community. 60.2% of respondents strongly disagreed that their “organization is on the brink of insolvency”. This combined with another even higher percentage of “collaborations” at 74.5%, conveys a very lively and determined community of women media activists, for collaboration demands time, energy and commitment. On the other hand, of those who responded, 33% operate on a budget of less than $25,000 per year. The survey did not have a "zero budget" category for this question. We hypothesize that this may be why 25 organizations/groups failed to answer this question. The Summit underscored the reality that many groups operate without budgets. In contrast, 9 organizations, or 8.8%, have budgets over $500,000 annually. Over half of the respondents (54.9%) present their media to the public daily, weekly or monthly. More difficult to ascertain is the audience size, but 67.8% reach ten thousand people or fewer people a month. Of this group 37.4%, have a monthly audience of less than 1000. This represents a remarkable mandate for increasing resources into making these channels of feminist thought, womanist stories and girl action known to a wider public of women, girls and men alike. Models WMEC has identified nineteen models of sustainability for the gender justice media field. It includes Funders Collaborative for Youth Organizing (FCYO), as the strongest, because practitioners sit on its Board; Third Wave Foundation due to its mission to transform philanthropy and build leaders.; and Women Make Movies for its highly successful earned income program, now its central mission, distribution. This evolving document can be adapted as best serves the gender justice media community. Next – on to 2010 and beyond Creation of a public document of the research findings is in order. First we are working with the field to address use and ownership concerns articulated at the Summit. The possibility of a new fund remains elusive. Questions exist. Yet the need is vast. And desire is great. WMEC is unique as a practitioner lead project, unlike its fellow projects within SSRC funding cycles. Even FCYO is a foundation lead initiative because of a need perceived by funders of youth organizing. Similarly Media Democracy Fund is foundation originated. Foundations, women’s funds and donors are needed to provide more fiscal support to ensure longevity of gender justice media. WMEC is evolving a new leadership process with participants from the Summit. Through that process combined with professional assistance from Inspired Legacies, WMEC is devising a plan of action. We hope this summary report illuminates the importance of our further collaboration on this vital initiative. We look forward in early 2010 to expanding a dialogue on this possibility.
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Oldest (contemporary) DC based women!s community monthly newspaper, started in 1970. oob is the last remaining monthly of some 600 multi-issued newspapers that published during the 1970s and 1980s. * “Women!s media” as a term is in need of vast overhaul, stated here as “gender justice media” as it evolves…..

Media Equity Collaborative
Fiscal sponsor: International Media Project

End of Year Report 2009

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Final (Rough) Women’s Media Equity Collaborative Budget
Item SSRC Funds Other Funds* / In -Kind** Total Expenses

PI McLaughlin & Feiner Consultant Dougherty (12months @ $1K/month) Survey (41.5hrs @ $28.80/hr) + SuvMonkey List Support (In-Kind WIFP) Web & Communications Summit Facilitator: $2000 Room (etc) Fees: $630 Day Care: $155 Participant Meals: $2396 Printing (etc): $835 Scholarships:$ 7715 Subtotal: Summit Summit Leadership@AMC Travel: $3514 Registration AMC: $800 Meals: D/B/L/D$784 Lodging: $1200 Subtotal: Summit Ldrship Chica Luna leadership + DS Project Admin/Ldrship NRP TOTAL EXPENSES

$0 $5,000 $2,000 $0 $3,500 $8,000

$10,000** $7,000**

$10,000 $12,000 $1,295

$1,000** $3,500** $7,180*

$1,000 $7,200 $2,000 $630 $155 $2,396 $835 $7,715 $13,731

$6,500 $3,514 $800 $784 $1,200 $2,000 $3,000 $30,000 $3,600** $1,800** $34,080 $6,298 $6,800 $5,980 $64,304 ($224)

ADDENDUM All these funds supported participant travel & * Other Funds lodging scholarships totaling $7,715 On the Issues magazine $1,500 Third Wave Foundation $1,500 Ms. Foundation for Women $3,000 Free Press $250 Women Make Movies $250 Total non SSRC sponsorship/grants $6,500 Earned: Summit Registrations $680 TOTAL Other Funds $7,180 ** In-Kind Miami University/Ohio $5,000 Univ Southern Maine $8,500 Dougherty $7,000 Women!s Institute Freedom of the Press $1,000 Partner Orgs: Chica Luna, Digital Sisters, National Radio Project $5,400 TOTAL In-Kind $26,900 TOTAL REVENUE $64,080

Deficit($224)

Media Equity Collaborative
Fiscal sponsor: International Media Project

End of Year Report 2009

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