The New York Times has announced that Critical Minded will fund its new program to seek out, develop and publish cultural critics from underrepresented backgrounds who have little or no experience contributing to The Times Culture section.
The one-year program will assign an editor to recruit freelance critics and coach them on how to write for a national publication with the goal of publishing their work in The Times. The program will help critics build rapport and learn from Times editors, setting them up for more opportunities to showcase their cultural viewpoints at The Times and other news organizations.
“I’m extremely excited to work with Critical Minded to deepen our commitment to diverse cultural criticism,” said Sia Michel, interim editor of The Times culture department. “The import of culture coverage at The Times grows exponentially when we invest in journalists with diverse backgrounds and perspectives. This program allows us to grow our criticism like never before, impacting on cultural criticism in ways that go far beyond the pages of The Times.”
Robust cultural criticism is essential to ignite informed discourse, but the past decade has seen a marked decline of criticism outside of the biggest markets. What criticism remains does not reflect the diversity of the country or those creating artistic works. By providing Times editing for writers with fewer national opportunities, this program aims to produce a multiplier effect for freelance critics.
“The ripple effects of this one-year program will outlast its duration, as it not only mentors, develops and publishes cultural critics of color, but also unlocks access to The New York Times’ vast network of brilliant minds, facilitating the formation of lasting professional relationships. Made possible thanks to the support from the Mellon Foundation to Critical Minded, this partnership allows us to collaborate with The New York Times in the extension of its legacy of reporting untold stories since its inception, while strengthening its prominence and expanding prospects for economic and professional advancement for cultural critics of color,” said Rashid Shabazz, executive director of Critical Minded.
Philanthropies interested in learning more about this program should contact Marcia Parker, vice president of philanthropy.
About Critical Minded:
Critical Minded, a fiscally sponsored project of Allied Media Projects, is a grantmaking and learning initiative that supports cultural critics of color in the United States. Founded in 2017 by the Nathan Cummings Foundation and Ford Foundation, the collective emerged from the belief that engaging critically with ideas and images is a prerequisite for transforming the cultural landscape and preserving democracy.
Critical Minded prioritizes the four following initiatives: 1) Individual critics of color and BIPOC-led publishers are more resilient and create economic and professional development opportunities for cultural critics of color; 2) Increase media presence for and amplification of cultural critics of color to influence and shift public discourse and popular narratives; 3) Facilitate greater access and resources for cultural critics of color within “mainstream” and independent publications; 4) Publish and disseminate research and case studies documenting the role cultural critics of color play as essential contributors to a thriving cultural sector and inclusive democracy by advancing racial justice, publications and platforms. These initiatives directly address the lack of representation among critics of color in media outlets.
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