Sustainability and New Funding Models for Feminist Media
Feminist media are essential to the process of framing and advancing women's economic and human rights. They are the central actors in a small but vibrant “feminist counter-public sphere,” where groups marginalized by gender offer interpretations of their identities, needs and interests in opposition to mainstream representations of women’s place(s) in society. Feminist media have not been subject to systematic research attention or organizing efforts as a sector, but increasingly, their survival may require it. The Media Equity Collaborative (MEC) project focuses on issues and modes of funding feminist media to open the door to collaboration and building sustainable funding for these efforts. The project seeks to address the following questions:
- What are the relevant financial, structural, and production characteristics of feminist media organizations in the United States?
- To what extent do these organizations collaborate in funding, advertising, audience outreach, media projects, and capacity building?
- How do existing collaborations leverage women’s media organization strengths; how could greater collaboration lead to enhanced financial sustainability; and what forms of funding collaboration are most likely to succeed in the women's media organization environment?
To this end, the MEC has begun to map the sector by creating an initial database of almost 350 women's social justic media organizations (WsjMOs) and their key contacts. The primary investigators, working with project partners and with input from those active in organizations within the field, surveyed these contacts, with a response rate of 137 out of 350 respondents -- the 35 duplicate organizational project responses then averaged with others in their organization to get one data point. Respondents were asked about their organizational size, geographic reach, funding (levels and sources), and range of activities. Preliminary results from this survey of the field indicate that the majority of respondents see their organization as strong and vibrant, despite the economic downturn, and continue to present their media to the public on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. This, combined with the collaborative history of the field points toward a postive outlook for builidng a future collective fund or resource building process -- models of which were further explored at the first MEC Summit, held July 20, 2009 in conjuction with the 11th annual Allied Media Conference. Through 36 travel scholarships, WMEC was able to gather a group of 65 WsjMO representatives, diverse in background, geography, and age, together with several representatives from the funding/donor communities. Additional results from both survey and Summit will be made available via WMEC, through further work with the WsjMO community.
"," Women's e-news, March 27, 2009