These days it can feel like wins are hard to come by. Whether it’s more layoffs in newsrooms, new data that supports the decline of local newspapers, or the recurrent apocalyptic headlines gracing many a front page — it can be easy to feel defeated.
But in the true spirit of Community Change, we took this challenging media landscape as an opportunity to innovate on our ChangeWire publication and our fellows program — and it’s paying off.
On January 30, 2024, we won two Gold Anthem Awards for our work in news and journalism. The Anthem Awards is the largest and most comprehensive social impact award and we are thrilled to find ourselves in the company of other 3rd Annual Anthem Award winners including Vote.org + Taylor Swift, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, World Central Kitchen & Chef José Andrés, ACLU, Project Everyone with Al Pacino, Patagonia, World Wildlife Fund, Elton John Aids Foundation.
Our fellows curriculum “ChangeWire – Fighting Disinformation and Training Impacted People in Journalism” was awarded Gold in the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion – News & Journalism category.
We believe that part of the reason why distrust in mainstream media is at an all time high is because too many everyday Americans don’t see themselves represented authentically in the news and stories told about their communities. It’s clear we need more diversity in newsrooms and storytelling platforms, but those who are impacted by issues of economic and social inequality don’t always have access to the formal training and education needed to break into the industry.
A screenshot from one of our 2023 virtual learning sessions, featuring guest speaker Sasha Abramsky from The Nation.
So we designed and implemented a new chapter for our Communications Fellows program in which writers, filmmakers, poets, and artists develop their storytelling skills over a 12-month curriculum. We train them in both journalism fundamentals and lessons in self preservation as they move through a craft that asks them to share so much of themselves as they report on the issues their communities really care about. And we coach them on how to uncover stories that are not only about the issues, but the grassroots organizing working to solve them.
And our multi-media “People Power: Democracy Stories from the Ground Up” series was awarded Gold in the Human & Civil Rights – News & Journalism category.
The spread of disinformation is not only a threat to Americans’ trust in the media — but to the very fabric of a multi-racial democracy. So, together with our fellows, we devised a series amplifying the voices of those fighting to rebuild our democracy. It was our first cross-cohort project where everyone contributed a different exploration of our “by the people, for the people” American experiment.
Rare and invaluable in-person gathering time at the Cross Movement Convening in Washington, D.C. in December 2023. featuring Miguel Rueda, Jasmine Smith, Cristina Rayas, and Domenica Ghanem (photo credit: Ihana Brown Photography)
We’re taking the great honor of these Anthem Awards as further proof that the people closest to the issues are also the closest to the solutions and are experts in their own narratives that deserve telling.
And as we head into what is sure to be an unpredictable election year, we’re so excited to continue doing this work with our 2024 cohort. They are folks who look like everyday America — and that’s the point. Spanning the Baby Boomer generation to Gen Z, they are a dynamic group of directly-impacted storytellers who represent the diverse and authentic voices so desperately needed in the frontlines against disinformation and distrust in media.
“ChangeWire – Straight to the Source: How Directly Impacted People’s Stories Build Trust and Fight Disinformation” panel, Washington, D.C., December 2023 featuring Community Change’s Domenica Ghanem, Ohio Organizing Collaborative’s Maki Somosot, Childcare Changemaker BriTanya Brown, NPR’s Ashley Locke, Communications Fellow Ayanna Albertson, and Community Change’s Cristina Rayas. (photo credit: 2902 Media)
It feels good to receive recognition for our work — but we are even more jazzed about the prospect of a growing understanding that new media models supporting authentic voices are what will cut through the noise and challenge conventional narratives to bring about real change.