The Shift the Narrative Coalition, spearheaded by Movement Alliance Project, Free Press, and the Media, Inequality & Change (MIC) Center, works to change the narratives around violence, crime and safety in local media, and put the power of storytelling in the hands of the community.

The coalition examines social change through the lens of violence, safety, and the impact of criminal justice narratives on the region. Philadelphia has the highest incarceration rate of any large jurisdiction in the country, and the length of stay is 3.5 times longer than the national average. Moreover, people of color account for 55 percent of Philadelphia's population, but a whopping 89 percent of the jail population. The Shift the Narrative coalition believes that a wholesale change in the way that violence and safety narratives are created and shared—led by community members, including those who are or have been incarcerated—can illuminate the impact of mass incarceration on the region and advance transformative policy change that will ultimately liberate people of color from the intertwining and unjust systems that seek to lock them up for the rest of their lives.

To that end, the three organizations are conducting research (MIC Center), leading community organizing and community media making (Movement Alliance Project), and supporting newsroom collaboration between journalists and community members (Free Press) to build a model in which communities can harness the power of media to create their own narratives.

Grants Awarded to Shift the Narrative Coalition

$850,000 - Awarded December 2019

Focus areas
Community-Centered Journalism

This three-year grant supports Free Press' collaboration with Media Mobilizing Project and Media, Inequality, Change Center to organize journalists, newsrooms and community media allies to bring them into closer relationships with residents who want to take an active role in shaping local news. Free Press will also produce guides and workshops for constituents, support community-newsroom collaboration, and develop strategies to disincentivize the dominant “if it bleeds, it leads” newsroom mentality.

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