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Images & Voices of Hope | December 2, 2020

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Two new media projects aim to play a role in Detroit’s recovery

Two new media projects aim to play a role in Detroit’s recovery

The same day a federal judge ruled Detroit can enter bankruptcy, the Knight and Ford Foundations announced they’re funding two new media projects aimed at helping Detroit’s recovery.

The Detroit Journalism Cooperative, which received $250,000 from Knight, is made up of five nonprofits that will produce solutions-based journalism to help people better understand the crisis in Detroit. (Not sure what “solutions-based journalism” is? The Solutions Journalism Network has a good explainer here.)

The five nonprofits — Michigan RadioBridge MagazineWDETNew Michigan Media and Detroit Public Television — will “look ahead, beyond daily coverage, and engage residents struggling to understand their options and make the right decisions,” Knight’s Eric Newton writes.

Detroit is about $18 billion in debt.

Detroit is about $18 billion in debt.

The project is similar to the New Jersey News Commons, a group of news organizations that work together to improve New Jersey’s news ecosystem.

The Ford Foundation has given Zero Divide a $250,000 grant on behalf of Renaissance Journalism, a project that ivoh board member Jon Funabiki oversees. The money will go toward launching the Michigan Reporting Initiative, which will help journalists report on the impact that emergency managers and state policies have on Michigan’s communities.

Katy Locker, Knight’s program director in Detroit, explains the significance of the projects in a release:

“How residents and policymakers understand and deal with Detroit’s crises will have repercussions decades into the future. … Some say the bankruptcy could herald the start of a recovery, but that can only happen if the community is informed and engaged and has a plan for continuing improvements the day after bankruptcy. Nonprofit journalism can help.”

The projects are promising. I’m optimistic they’ll yield examples of the various roles the media can play when covering cities that are struggling. During times of crisis, there’s potential for the media to not only inform communities, but connect and rebuild them.

Related story: Fate of Detroit’s art hangs in balance,” by The New York Times’ Randy Kennedy

Mallary Tenore is managing director of Images & Voices of Hope. She can be reached at or on Twitter @ivohMedia.