The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has announced the launch of an initiative aimed at strengthening journalism and media in Chicago by investing in the production and dissemination of accurate, just, and inclusive news and narratives.
Named for the late Jack Fuller, the former editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune and a MacArthur trustee, the Jack Fuller Initiative will work to strengthen news and media organizations that represent and reflect the views and lived experiences of Chicago's diverse communities; provide professional development and leadership opportunities for a diverse set of reporters, editors, and media-makers; and facilitate collaborations that develop competencies inside the participating organizations and bring more nuanced and thorough coverage to their audiences. To that end, the foundation has awarded initial grants through the initiative totaling $2.4 million.
The inaugural grant recipients are City Bureau, which was awarded $1 million in support of its efforts to foster collaborative environments between journalists and community members, promote responsible media coverage, increase civic engagement, and hold powerful forces to account; Free Spirit Media, which will receive $650,000 to expand its young adult journalism program in communities of color on Chicago's West and South sides; Chicago Public Media, which will receive $650,000 in support of expanded reporting and collaboration between WBEZ and Vocalo Radio, the organization's alternative platform, aimed at amplifying the stories of Chicago's multiracial communities; and the Field Foundation, which was awarded $100,000 to design a new grantmaking program that will support community-based journalism and media organizations in Chicago, with a focus on organizations led by people of color.
In addition to the grants, the foundation will partner with the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, where Jack Fuller also served as a trustee, in hosting a series of convenings over the next eighteen months designed to encourage greater collaboration, peer learning, and professional development for newsroom leaders, reporters, and media-makers. The convenings also will address and seek solutions for the ongoing challenges facing journalism and media institutions serving Chicago's diverse communities.
"The Jack Fuller Legacy Initiative will support local journalism organizations that live the values Jack held dear: accuracy, justice, and inclusion," said MacArthur Foundation president Julia Stasch. "The initiative is not just about good reporting, but about creating and disseminating news and narratives that support honest public discourse and meaningful civic engagement."