CCJ to award Media Changemaker Prize to The Pivot Fund founder Tracie Powell

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headshot of Tracie Powell
Tracie Powell

Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism (CCJ) will recognize Tracie Powell, a leader in philanthropic efforts to increase racial equity and diversity in the news media, with its Media Changemaker Prize on Feb. 3 at the center’s National Journalism Advisory Board meeting. 

Powell is the founder of The Pivot Fund, which seeks to support independent BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) community news. She was a fall 2021 Shorenstein Center Research Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School, where she researched mechanisms for funding and capacity building for media outlets run by and for BIPOC and other traditionally marginalized communities. 

“Tracie has dedicated much of her career to helping underserved communities address gaps in information access and making sure more traditional newsrooms reflect the communities they serve,” CCJ Director Debbie Blankenship said. “In her current role at The Pivot Fund, she is funding nontraditional news organizations that work in these spaces but are often overlooked by traditional journalism grants and assistance. 

“Tracie was an obvious choice to recognize as our 2023 Changemaker as her work is literally changing and improving information access in communities across Georgia and the nation.” 

The CCJ’s Media Changemaker Prize is awarded annually to a journalist, entrepreneur or other media figure who is changing the way the public consumes news and information and is working to find solutions to address information gaps. 

“I want to thank the Center for Collaborative Journalism and Mercer University for this exciting honor,” Powell said. “This is a recognition not only for myself and The Pivot Fund but for the important independent local newsrooms that work so hard to meet the information needs of their communities.”   

The work is not easy, but it is necessary to rebuild public trust and credibility, she said. The best way to do that is to start by supporting local and community newsrooms.   

“These community newsrooms have earned their audiences’ trust; provide fact-based, locally relevant and accessible reporting; are often BIPOC led and serving; promote civic engagement; and defend against the spread of disinformation,” she said. 

Powell is the immediate past board chair of LION Publishers, a professional journalism association for independent news publishers where she has served on the board since 2017. Prior to her work with The Pivot Fund and Harvard, she was the founding fund manager of the Racial Equity in Journalism Fund at Borealis Philanthropy. 

She is also the founder of AllDigitocracy.org, which focuses on the media and its impact on diverse communities. She was a senior fellow with the Democracy Fund, where she worked on the Public Square initiative that seeks to support informed dialogue through nonprofit journalism investments. 

Powell was a 2016 John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University and has written regularly for the Columbia Journalism Review and Poynter Online. Her work has been highlighted by countless journalism and academic institutions, including Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab. She is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center and the University of Georgia’s Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. 

The CCJ first awarded its Media Changemaker Prize in 2015. Past recipients include: 

  • 2022: Meg Coker, The Current
  • 2021: Robin Kemp, The Clayton Crescent
  • 2020: Sarah Alvarez, Outlier Media
  • 2019: Celeste Headlee, journalist
  • 2018: Michelle Holmes, al.com
  • 2017: Teya Ryan, Georgia Public Broadcasting
  • 2016: Jennifer Brandel, Hearken
  • 2015: Matt Thompson, The Atlantic

About the Center for Collaborative Journalism 

The Center for Collaborative Journalism (CCJ) is a unique partnership between Mercer University, The Telegraph, Georgia Public Broadcasting and 13WMAZ, with generous support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and The Peyton Anderson Foundation. The Center’s groundbreaking collaboration has students, faculty and veteran journalists working together in a joint newsroom. Learning in a “teaching hospital” model, students engage the community using the latest digital tools and leave with a strong portfolio of published work. Learn more at ccj.mercer.edu

About Mercer University 

Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. With approximately 9,000 students enrolled in 12 schools and colleges, on major campuses in Macon and Atlanta; medical school sites in Macon, Savannah and Columbus; and at regional academic centers in Henry and Douglas counties, Mercer is ranked among the top tier of national research universities by U.S. News & World Report. The Mercer Health Sciences Center includes the University’s School of Medicine and Colleges of Nursing, Health Professions and Pharmacy. Mercer is affiliated with five teaching hospitals – Atrium Health Navicent The Medical Center and Piedmont Macon Medical Center in Macon; Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah; and Piedmont Columbus Regional Hospital and St. Francis-Emory Healthcare in Columbus. The University also has an educational partnership with Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins. It operates an academic press and a performing arts center in Macon, an engineering research center in Warner Robins, and Mercer Medicine clinics in Sumter, Peach, Clay and Putnam counties. Mercer is one of only 293 institutions nationwide to shelter a chapter of The Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation’s most prestigious academic honor society; one of eight institutions to hold membership in the Georgia Research Alliance; and the only private university in Georgia to field an NCAA Division I athletic program. Learn more at mercer.edu

About The Pivot Fund 

The Pivot Fund disrupts and reimagines the journalism industry, ensuring equity for BIPOC-led community organizations and the BIPOC communities they serve. Since the journalism industry is far from BIPOC-led, a fund that is BIPOC-owned and led is crucial. The Pivot Fund helps fight disinformation that disproportionately affects people of color by investing in trusted, culturally competent news outlets. The organizations The Pivot Fund supports do not just write about BIPOC communities; they write for them. When BIPOC-led community news organizations can reach their communities effectively, our society is more informed and more connected. Learn more at thepivotfund.org

Jennifer Falk is the director of digital communications at Mercer University and editor-in-chief of The Den. She creates and supervises the development of written and multimedia content for primary University web pages and e-newsletters, including The Den and This Week @ Mercer. In addition, she collaborates with schools and offices to maintain web content and examines data and analytics to drive content creation decisions. She also serves as a member of the University's social media committee.