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Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Our Approach to Media Partnerships

October 06, 2010

Journalists go to the farthest reaches of the world and the most at-risk communities at home to ask hard questions and find stories that impact the rest of society.

Their reporting helps increase visibility, spur debate, and ultimately  inform decisions that affect millions of vulnerable people.

For years, we’ve worked with media companies to help them explore challenges of inequity that are often underreported or neglected. As a foundation, we seek to raise awareness of issues relating to global health and development and, in the United States, education. We recognize that quality journalism based on data and evidence can increase engagement  and bring these issues much needed attention.

In the United States, for example, we have seen this to be true through our work with National Public Radio, where their focus on the challenges facing public education has helped to shine a spotlight on some of our nation’s most complex and urgent issues around achievement gaps, global competitiveness, and teacher effectiveness. More recently, we partnered with The Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom to track the progress of developing countries in meeting the Millennium Development Goals to improve health and fight poverty.

Today I’m excited about a grant we’re giving to ABC News to help fund a year-long series on global health. This will enable ABC reporters and producers, who already have a strong track record of in-depth reporting, to cover the stories that they know matter to their audience.

Our aim with all of these investments is to support access to information on the critical issues that need discussion. They work because both sides insist that the media organization maintain editorial control.

The media landscape continues to change at a rapid rate. International coverage that is not linked to war and natural disaster continues to be squeezed. And in the United States, critical issues are not always receiving the in-depth coverage needed to raise awareness.

Our aim is to support the pursuit of evidence-based coverage, and we will continue to look for ways to build understanding and stimulate conversation around challenges of inequity.

Update from Kate (February 22, 2011):

On February 20, 2011, the Seattle Times ran a story about the foundation’s media partnerships and its support for coverage of issues that are at the heart of the work the foundation supports. In an era with significant pressures on media organizations that have led to a decline in coverage of global health, global development, and U.S. education issues, we believe that our support ($50 million over the last decade) of independent coverage of these stories is more important than ever before. These partnerships are a relatively small but important component of our overall advocacy efforts.

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