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Revealed: Documents show Bill Gates has given $319 million to media outlets

Sifting through over 30,000 grants in the company’s database, MintPress can reveal that the Gates Foundation has bankrolled hundreds of media outlets and ventures, to the tune of at least $319 million.

by Alan Macleod 
Part 1

Up until his recent messy divorce, Bill Gates enjoyed something of a free pass in corporate media. Generally presented as a kindly nerd who wants to save the world, the Microsoft co-founder was even unironically christened “Saint Bill” by The Guardian.

While other billionaires’ media empires are relatively well known, the extent to which Gates’s cash underwrites the modern media landscape is not. After sorting through over 30,000 individual grants, MintPress can reveal that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) has made over $300 million worth of donations to fund media projects.

Recipients of this cash include many of America’s most important news outlets, including CNN, NBC, NPR, PBS and The Atlantic. Gates also sponsors a myriad of influential foreign organizations, including the BBC, The Guardian, The Financial Times and The Daily Telegraph in the United Kingdom; prominent European newspapers such as Le Monde (France), Der Spiegel (Germany) and El País (Spain); as well as big global broadcasters like Al-Jazeera.

The Gates Foundation money going towards media programs has been split up into a number of sections, presented in descending numerical order, and includes a link to the relevant grant on the organization’s website.

Awards Directly to Media Outlets:

    NPR- $24,663,066
    The Guardian (including $12,951,391   
    Cascade Public Media – $10,895,016
    Public Radio International ( $7,719,113
    The Conversation- $6,664,271
    Univision- $5,924,043
    Der Spiegel (Germany)- $5,437,294       
    Project Syndicate- $5,280,186
    Education Week – $4,898,240
    WETA- $4,529,400
    NBCUniversal Media- $4,373,500
    Nation Media Group (Kenya) – $4,073,194
    Le Monde (France)- $4,014,512
    Bhekisisa (South Africa) – $3,990,182
    El País – $3,968,184
    BBC- $3,668,657
    CNN- $3,600,000   
    KCET- $3,520,703
    Population Communications International ( – $3,500,000
    The Daily Telegraph – $3,446,801
    Chalkbeat – $2,672,491   
    The Education Post- $2,639,193
    Rockhopper Productions (U.K.) – $2,480,392
    Corporation for Public Broadcasting – $2,430,949
    UpWorthy – $2,339,023
    Financial Times – $2,309,845
    The 74 Media- $2,275,344
    Texas Tribune- $2,317,163
    Punch (Nigeria) – $2,175,675
    News Deeply – $1,612,122
    The Atlantic- $1,403,453
    Minnesota Public Radio- $1,290,898
    YR Media- $1,125,000
    The New Humanitarian- $1,046,457
    Sheger FM (Ethiopia) – $1,004,600
    Al-Jazeera- $1,000,000
    ProPublica- $1,000,000
    Crosscut Public Media – $810,000
    Grist Magazine- $750,000
    Kurzgesagt – $570,000
    Educational Broadcasting Corp – $506,504
    Classical 98.1 – $500,000
    PBS – $499,997
    Gannett – $499,651
    Mail and Guardian (South Africa)- $492,974
    Inside Higher Ed.- $439,910
    BusinessDay (Nigeria) – $416,900 – $412,000   
    Nutopia- $350,000
    Independent Television Broadcasting Inc. – $300,000
    Independent Television Service, Inc. – $300,000
    Caixin Media (China) – $250,000
    Pacific News Service – $225,000
    National Journal – $220,638
    Chronicle of Higher Education – $149,994
    Belle and Wissell, Co. $100,000
    Media Trust – $100,000
    New York Public Radio – $77,290
    KUOW – Puget Sound Public Radio – $5,310

Together, these donations total $166,216,526. The money is generally directed towards issues close to the Gateses hearts. For example, the $3.6 million CNN grant went towards “report[ing] on gender equality with a particular focus on least developed countries, producing journalism on the everyday inequalities endured by women and girls across the world,” while the Texas Tribune received millions to “to increase public awareness and engagement of education reform issues in Texas.” Given that Bill is one of the charter schools’ most fervent supporters, a cynic might interpret this as planting pro-corporate charter school propaganda into the media, disguised as objective news reporting.

The Gates Foundation has also given nearly $63 million to charities closely aligned with big media outlets, including nearly $53 million to BBC Media Action, over $9 million to MTV’s Staying Alive Foundation, and $1 million to The New York Times Neediest Causes Fund. While not specifically funding journalism, donations to the philanthropic arm of a media player should still be noted.

Gates continues to underwrite a wide network of investigative journalism centers as well, totaling just over $38 million, more than half of which has gone to the D.C.-based International Center for Journalists to expand and develop African media.
These centers include:

    International Center for Journalists- $20,436,938
    Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (Nigeria) – $3,800,357
    The Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting – $2,432,552
    Fondation EurActiv Politech – $2,368,300
    International Women’s Media Foundation – $1,500,000
    Center for Investigative Reporting – $1,446,639
    InterMedia Survey institute – $1,297,545
    The Bureau of Investigative Journalism – $1,068,169
    Internews Network – $985,126
    Communications Consortium Media Center – $858,000
    Institute for Nonprofit News – $650,021
    The Poynter Institute for Media Studies- $382,997
    Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (Nigeria)  – $360,211
    Institute for Advanced Journalism Studies – $254,500
    Global Forum for Media Development (Belgium) – $124,823
    Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting – $100,000

In addition to this, the Gates Foundation also plies press and journalism associations with cash, to the tune of at least $12 million. For example, the National Newspaper Publishers Association — a group representing more than 200 outlets — has received $3.2 million.

The list of these organizations includes:

    Education Writers Association – $5,938,475
    National Newspaper Publishers Association – $3,249,176
    National Press Foundation- $1,916,172
    Washington News Council- $698,200
    American Society of News Editors Foundation – $250,000
    Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press- $25,000

This brings our running total up to $216.4 million.

The foundation also puts up the money to directly train journalists all over the world, in the form of scholarships, courses and workshops. Today, it is possible for an individual to train as a reporter thanks to a Gates Foundation grant, find work at a Gates-funded outlet, and to belong to a press association funded by Gates. This is especially true of journalists working in the fields of health, education and global development, the ones Gates himself is most active in and where scrutiny of the billionaire’s actions and motives are most necessary.

Gates Foundation grants pertaining to the instruction of journalists include:

    Johns Hopkins University – $1,866,408
    Teachers College, Columbia University- $1,462,500
    University of California Berkeley- $767,800       
    Tsinghua University (China) – $450,000
    Seattle University – $414,524
    Institute for Advanced Journalism Studies – $254,500   
    Rhodes University (South Africa) – $189,000
    Montclair State University- $160,538
    Pan-Atlantic University Foundation – $130,718
    World Health Organization – $38,403
    The Aftermath Project- $15,435

The BMGF also pays for a wide range of specific media campaigns around the world. For example, since 2014 it has donated $5.7 million to the Population Foundation of India in order to create dramas that promote sexual and reproductive health, with the intent to increase family planning methods in South Asia. Meanwhile, it alloted over $3.5 million to a Senegalese organization to develop radio shows and online content that would feature health information. Supporters consider this to be helping critically underfunded media, while opponents might consider it a case of a billionaire using his money to plant his ideas and opinions into the press.

Media projects supported by the Gates Foundation:

    European Journalism Centre – $20,060,048
    World University Service of Canada – $12,127,622
    Well Told Story Limited – $9,870,333
    Solutions Journalism Inc.- $7,254,755   
    Entertainment Industry Foundation – $6,688,208   
    Population Foundation of India- $5,749,826 –
    Participant Media – $3,914,207
    Réseau Africain de l’Education pour la santé- $3,561,683
    New America – $3,405,859
    AllAfrica Foundation – $2,311,529
    Steps International – $2,208,265
    Center for Advocacy and Research – $2,200,630
    The Sesame Workshop – $2,030,307
    Panos Institute West Africa – $1,809,850        
    Open Cities Lab – $1,601,452   
    Harvard university – $1,190,527
    Learning Matters – $1,078,048
    The Aaron Diamond Aids Research Center- $981,631
    Thomson Media Foundation- $860,628
    Communications Consortium Media Center – $858,000
    StoryThings- $799,536
    Center for Rural Strategies – $749,945
    The New Venture Fund – $700,000   
    Helianthus Media – $575,064   
    University of Southern California- $550,000
    World Health Organization- $530,095
    Phi Delta Kappa International – $446,000
    Ikana Media – $425,000
    Seattle Foundation – $305,000
    EducationNC – $300,000
    Beijing Guokr Interactive – $300,000   
    Upswell- $246,918
    The African Academy of Sciences – $208,708   
    Seeking Modern Applications for Real Transformation (SMART) – $201,781
    Bay Area Video Coalition- $190,000
    PowHERful Foundation – $185,953
    PTA Florida Congress of Parents and Teachers – $150,000   
    ProSocial – $100,000   
    Boston University – $100,000
    National Center for Families Learning – $100,000   
    Development Media International – $100,000
    Ahmadu Bello University- $100,000
    Indonesian eHealth and Telemedicine Society – $100,000
    The Filmmakers Collaborative – $50,000
    Foundation for Public Broadcasting in Georgia Inc. – $25,000   
    SIFF – $13,000

Total: $97,315,408

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