Wikimedia awards grants to tackle racial inequality, barriers to free information

·2 min read
Wikipedia webpage in use on a laptop computer is seen in this photo illustration taken in Washington

By Sheila Dang

(Reuters) - The Wikimedia Foundation, which operates the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, said on Wednesday it will award grants to six organizations that work to address barriers in accessing quality information due to racial inequality.

The nonprofit foundation also acknowledged its own projects, including Wikipedia, presented a Western worldview of history and needed to do more to close knowledge gaps.

The inaugural grants came from a new $4.5 million fund aimed at increasing the availability of free knowledge.

Wikimedia will give $250,000 to Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ), a nonprofit based in Jordan that has coached and supported more than 3,000 journalists to produce investigative reporting in the region.

The grant will help ARIJ expand its scope and build a network for fact-checkers, who may not be fully equipped with legal or career support, Rawan Damen, director-general of ARIJ, said in an interview.

"We believe that they'll be targeted as much in the future as journalists," she said. "What we hope this grant will do is scale and mentor journalists, but also include fact-checkers."

InternetLab, a São Paulo-based law and internet research center, will use its $200,000 grant to create a two-year fellowship that will study the barriers that have prevented Black and Indigenous people in Brazil from sharing and participating in knowledge online.

The research fellow will explore questions such as to what extent Black and Indigenous communities are affected by misinformation online, said Mariana Valente, director of InternetLab, in an interview.

Other inaugural grant recipients include the Howard University School of Law and the Institute for Intellectual Property and Social Justice; Media Foundation for West Africa; SeRCH Foundation; and the Borealis Philanthropy Racial Equity in Journalism Fund.

(Reporting by Sheila Dang in Dallas; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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