There's been a lot of hand-wringing in recent years about the decline of the traditional news media and the threat to our democracy and civil society from a less than fully informed citizenry.

Yet, there also have been some very inventive efforts underway to fill the gaps in current news coverage, and much of this in the form of new nonprofit ventures being supported by foundations and others.

Among the new kinds of news services springing up are those focused on single-interest topics, such as education, health or politics.

In this video, Mary Lou Fulton, communications and media program manager for The California Endowment, discusses how the foundation is making media grants to support more in-depth coverage of health issues and related topics as part of its efforts to improve the health of communities and people who live in them.

During the course of her conversation with Communications Network contributor Susan Herr, Fulton, a former journalist, describes grantmaking approaches that are all grounded in a respect for independent media.

Running time of this episode is 26 minutes. To view selected sections, use this guide to forward to the time indicated:

Changing media landscape spells opportunity for grantmakers (1:08-2:48)

Tell me your zip code, I’ll tell you how long you will live (2:48-4:00)

Connecting strategy, communications and media grantmaking (4:00-7:47)

Working with local media, traditional media and media start-ups (7:47-16:08)

Making the case for media grantmaking (16:08-19:20)

Types of media grantmaking and “ease of entry” for each (19:20-22:10)

Sustainability considerations (22:10-24:15)

Grant budgets for communication departments (24:15-26:05)

Consistent messaging is the key (26:05-27:06)

Fulton spent many years working in print and online community media including jobs at the LA Times, The Bakersfield Californian, AOL, and GeoCities. At Media Optimist (, she blogs about media ideas with a focus on foundation-funded efforts.

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