PLATINUM2023

Free Press

Fight for your rights to connect and communicate

Washington, DC   |  www.freepress.net

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Mission

Free Press believes that positive social change, racial justice and meaningful engagement in public life require equitable access to technology, diverse and independent ownership of media platforms, and journalism that holds leaders accountable and tells people what’s actually happening in their communities. We believe that the struggle for racial justice must be at the center of transforming our media and our democracy. We focus on saving Net Neutrality, achieving affordable internet access for all, uplifting the voices of people of color in the media, challenging old and new media gatekeepers to serve the public interest, ending unwarranted surveillance, defending press freedom and reimagining local journalism.

Notes from the nonprofit

Please note that our annual reports are available online by visiting us at https://www.freepress.net/about/financials

Ruling year info

2004

President and co-CEO

Craig Aaron

co-CEO

Jessica J. González

Main address

1025 Connecticut Ave. NW Suite 1110

Washington, DC 20036 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

41-2106721

NTEE code info

Civil Rights, Social Action, and Advocacy N.E.C. (R99)

Media, Communications Organizations (A30)

Censorship, Freedom of Speech and Press Issues (R63)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Sign in or create an account to view Form(s) 990 for 2022, 2021 and 2019.
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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Free Press was founded in 2003 to give people a say in the crucial policy decisions that shape media and technology, out of the belief that an equitable media system is essential to transforming democracy and realizing a just society. Now more than ever before, media and technology are intertwined in people’s daily lives, vital to the health of communities, and integral to democracy. Media and technology can be used to oppress people — or to liberate them. The media shape our political debates and who’s included in them, the outcomes of our elections, and our identities. Powerful corporations — aided by policymakers — are undermining people’s digital rights, consolidating market power, squelching diverse and independent voices, and profiting from hateful activities happening online. Free Press focuses on these powerful platforms and tools because they have an outsized influence not just on the U.S. political system but on our entire society.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Future of Journalism

When giant out-of-touch corporations own the news, the stories of people of color and other communities go untold. We fight to hold these companies accountable, defend press freedom, strengthen local journalism and protect public and community media.

Local Journalism:
Too many newsrooms are disconnected from the communities they’re supposed to serve. Our News Voices campaign organizes events, workshops and collaborative projects to build power with communities seeking a stronger voice in local news.

Press Freedom:
The First Amendment protects all acts of journalism. But threats to people working to uncover government and corporate wrongdoing are on the rise.

Media Accountability:
We must hold media companies accountable for harmful practices and narratives that misrepresent, dehumanize and endanger our communities.

Public Media:
Public and community media outlets can provide platforms for diverse voices and local programs that the commercial media won’t put on the air.

Population(s) Served
Adults

The free and open internet is a powerful tool for everyone fighting for social change and racial justice.

Net Neutrality:
Net Neutrality keeps the internet free and open — enabling anyone to share and access information of their choosing without interference. Our Save the Internet campaign fights for Net Neutrality.

Internet Access:
Affordable high-speed internet access is a necessity for our communities and central to our ability to connect, communicate and organize for justice.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Powerful corporations want to decide what you're able to watch, listen to, read and share. And runaway media consolidation among news organizations has squashed diverse, local and independent voices, leaving us in the dark about important developments in our communities.

Media Consolidation:
Media mergers and monopolies silence our voices, raise prices and limit our choices.

Diversity in Media Ownership:
Thanks to decades of runaway media consolidation and the FCC’s failure to boost diverse ownership opportunities, women and people of color own only a fraction of our news outlets.

The FCC and the Justice Department should protect our ability to connect, communicate and organize for social change by blocking dangerous mergers and boosting diverse media ownership.

The FCC needs to fulfill its obligation to promote ownership opportunities for underrepresented communities. It’s just as critical that media outlets adopt policies that will diversify newsrooms.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Technology lets us communicate to the world, connect to our loved ones and organize for change. But the government and corporations can exploit these same tools to spy on innocent people, silence dissenting voices, criminalize communities of color and violate everyone’s privacy.

Corporations and government are increasingly joining forces. If we don’t take steps to keep them in check, our online privacy will only continue to erode, putting the most vulnerable populations at even greater risk.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of meetings held with decision makers

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Free & Open Internet

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Number of in-district meetings held with activists and their lawmakers to advocate for internet freedom policies. Also, in 2015, more than 1,200 activists participated in a congressional drop-in day.

Number of list subscribers

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Number of Free Press members

Number of research or policy analysis products developed, e.g., reports, briefs

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Legal filings at the Federal Communications Commission, policy proposals and fact sheets for decision-makers, major research reports, court briefs, etc.

Number of advocate or trained spokesperson citations in the media

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Coverage of our work appears in major outlets like the BBC, CNN, The Los Angeles Times , The New York Times, The New Yorker, NPR, PBS, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Long-term goals:

1. Internet Freedom: An Uncensored and Open Internet Everywhere
The internet is now the primary engine of commercial, cultural, democratic, economic and educational innovation and exchange. It is also the foremost battleground for free speech in the 21st century. Yet internet users' rights to free expression, communication and privacy are under constant attack.

Most people in the United States have little or no choice for high-speed internet service, and many are stranded on the wrong side of the digital divide. The lack of affordable options for high-speed internet is the primary obstacle to universal access in the United States. Americans are paying twice as much for service that is half the speed typically available throughout the developed world.

Free Press' aim is to promote policies that protect and expand the internet's free and open architecture; enable everyone to get online; and safeguard our fundamental rights and freedoms.

2. Platform Accountability

Platform companies profit from collecting vast quantities of data, which they’ve used along with ad-targeting tools and algorithms to discriminate against people based on their race, gender and other identities. Hate groups are using online platforms to funnel resources, spread propaganda and organize, leading to targeted harassment and violence. Free Press pushes tech companies to do more to protect the civil rights of targeted communities; reduce the spread of online hate; and address how their business model harms vulnerable communities, local news and fair elections.

3. Journalism's Future: Serving Communities and Protecting Press Freedom

Free Press seeks ways to sustain and improve journalism so that it can better hold the powerful accountable, uncover the truth and respond to community needs.

A healthy media system is characterized in part by the diversity of owners, perspectives and sources of news, information and cultural fare available to the public. Too often the thing missing from debates over journalism's future has been the public, the very people journalism is supposed to serve. This is especially true for communities of color and others that are too often misrepresented and aren't media owners. Free Press aims to build an active and sustainable community that supports quality journalism at the local level and includes voices that historically have been excluded.

Through our News Voices projects in multiple states, we're engaging communities and newsrooms in two-way conversation, using this dialogue to inspire collaborative local news projects. We're also launching advocacy efforts on the state and local level to push novel and innovative ways of funding local journalism and community media. Free Press also continues to work to protect press freedom while simultaneously holding the media accountable for dishonest, false and racist coverage.

To elevate public participation in U.S. media and technology policymaking and to advance equitable media and technology policies in the public interest, Free Press pursues the following core strategies:

Establish the legal and intellectual arguments for public interest policy.

Free Press' in-depth research and independent analysis expose threats to a trustworthy and inclusive media system, rebut industry propaganda, focus on the needs of the most-impacted communities, and explore new media models. Each year, we file extensive public comments with the Federal Communications Commission, argue in court, and testify in Congress. Free Press acts as a watchdog on policymakers, media and technology companies, industry lobbyists and the press.

Build people power outside and inside Washington.

Free Press amplifies the public's voice and clout in crucial policy decisions to counteract the undue influence of powerful corporations and compromised politicians. We work to build reliable public-interest champions at the FCC, in other key federal posts, and in states and local communities. To create lasting change and meet our goals for an equitable media system, we're committed to coalition building, network coordination and deepening our relationships with allies within and beyond our field.

Educate and mobilize the public to fight for change.

Free Press uses a range of communications, public education and popular engagement strategies to frame policy debates, elevate the voices of people of color and others disparately impacted by media policies and practices, and inspire people to take action online and off. We use innovative digital and organizing strategies to run our campaigns and activate our base of 1.4 million people. We shape the public narrative, earning more than 3,000 quotations and mentions in the press each year.

Structure: Free Press is a 501(c)(3) organization that uses research, advocacy and organizing to create policy changes in the public interest. With a base of 1.4 million activists, Free Press brings the public's powerful voice to media policy debates.

Free Press' educational and organizing activities are bolstered and complemented by the work of the Free Press Action Fund, our 501(c)(4) companion organization, through which we meet with elected representatives and lobby Congress and the White House.

Free Press has offices in Florence, Mass., and Washington, D.C., as well as staff working in eight other states. We currently have 36 staff members. Free Press and the Free Press Action Fund are independent, interrelated and autonomous organizations governed by separate and overlapping boards of directors.

Finances: Free Press has from its inception chosen not to accept money from business, government or political parties. We are supported solely by individuals, private foundations and public charities. We are currently supported by more than 100 sources ranging from $1 online donors to $750,000 foundation grants.

Contribution to the Fight for Better Media: At its best, Free Press is the leader in the fight for people's rights to connect and communicate, setting the agenda, convening key allies, and informing the public about the most pressing issues. We take a big-tent approach that strategically engages many other international, national and local organizations focused on narrower issues.

Free Press is a leading resource on media and technology issues for a broad range of groups, as well as for members of Congress, the FCC and the press. We offer both policy and organizing expertise to allied groups. Building and leading coalitions in partnership with allies both outside and inside the Beltway is a key element of Free Press' strategy for achieving change. Our aim is to include as many voices as possible in advocating for the change we seek. Free Press works diligently to support and encourage groups with unique and diverse capacities to join together — whether in long-term coalitions or short-term actions.

Free Press is adept at several roles — leader, supporter, and capacity builder — and we employ those roles strategically in service of our long-term goals and the needs of partnering organizations. And to more closely link our issues with other causes, Free Press works with an array of major public interest groups to alert and educate their activists about key media and internet issues.

In 2003, Free Press joined a movement at its nascent phase. Initially we focused on building the visibility and legitimacy of media reform issues. Since then, we've built a base of more than 1.4 million people engaged in the fight for our rights to connect and communicate. And we've won significant victories -- securing strong Net Neutrality protections and privacy at the FCC, defeating harmful media mega mergers and saving public media funding time and again. Through a combination of online and in-person action-taking, we are continuing to develop a better understanding of how to maximize and expand this power.

Our analysis is continuing to evolve. We recognize that structural racism in the media system and the lack of inclusion in the media and technology policymaking process are real barriers to having a media system that works for everyone, particularly communities of color that have gone underserved for so long. To address this, Free Press is prioritizing racial equity, elevating diverse voices and leadership in policymaking, building strong coalitions, and bringing the people who are most impacted into policy debates.

Financials

Free Press
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Free Press

Board of directors
as of 12/18/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Victor Pickard

Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication

Olga M. Davidson

Wellesley College

Craig Aaron (Board President)

Free Press

Ben Scott

Reset

Victor Pickard

University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication

Ashley Allison

founder and president of the Turner Conoly Group

Joan Donovan

researcher

Martha Fuentes-Bautista

faculty, School of Public Policy and the Department of Communication, UMass Amherst

Brandi Collins-Dexter

author

Vanessa Cardenas

executive director of America’s Voice

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 12/8/2023

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male

The organization's co-leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Hispanic/Latino/Latina/Latinx
Gender identity
Female

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 05/11/2022

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.