What is Modifier?
Modifier is Resolve Philly’s home for practice change and professional development. We aim to transform the journalism industry by sharing our team’s knowledge through consulting relationships, workshops, and online resources. Our team’s wide-ranging expertise spans leadership strategy and development, language and framing, collaborative journalism, community engagement, and more. We offer solutions, from in-person group trainings to free educational content, for organizations of all sizes and individuals seeking a variety of skills.
Modifier is led by Resolve’s Director of Practice Change, Aubrey Nagle. We also feature the collaborative and community engagement teams behind Resolve’s Broke in Philly and Equally Informed Philly initiatives, as well as Co-Executive Directors Cassie Haynes and Jean Friedman-Rudovsky. Learn more about our team.
What is Resolve Philly?
Resolve Philly is a proving ground for news and information initiatives that challenge the field of journalism to be more equitable, collaborative, and based in community voices and solutions. Resolve was founded in 2018 by Jean Friedman-Rudovsky and Cassie Haynes, emerging from a 2017 collaborative reporting project covering reentry from prison, a critical issue facing Philadelphia. Resolve is both a journalism support organization and an operating newsroom, with three programmatic initiatives that work in tandem. We are rooted in Philadelphia, but the scope of our work is national, and our sphere of influence is global.
Is Modifier just for Philadelphia?
Nope! Though Resolve Philly is based in Philadelphia and its initiatives Broke in Philly and Equally Informed Philly are focused on communities in (you guessed it) Philadelphia, Modifier’s tools and resources are nationally relevant and inspired by thinkers around the world.
Funding & Transparency
Who funds Modifier?
Modifier is part of Resolve Philly, a nonprofit organization which receives funding from the Solutions Journalism Network, Independence Public Media Foundation, the Knight Foundation, the Lenfest Institute, News Integrity Initiative, the Philadelphia Foundation, Wyncote Foundation and Ford Foundation. You can read more about our editorial independence and donor transparency policy here.
Resolve Philly, via Modifier, generates revenue through consulting, delivering learning opportunities, and supporting other projects and interventions that serve our organization’s mission. You can check out our partners here.
Does Modifier's funding affect its content?
Modifier is an initiative of Resolve Philly, which maintains a clear separation between editorial decisions and all sources of revenue. This intentional division ensures that funding does not present a conflict of interest for our journalism or compromise our editorial independence.
Gifts, grants, and sponsorships from individuals and organizations help to fund our nonprofit’s mission, but our judgments are made independently from donor support. Acceptance of financial support does not constitute implied or actual endorsement of donors or their positions.
Resolve Philly may accept financial support for reporting on particular topics. Our editorial staff determines these topics, and Resolve Philly and its newsroom partners retain editorial control over the resulting coverage. We do not give donors the rights to assign, review, or edit content, and editorial copy is never shared with donors prior to publication.
Members of Resolve Philly’s staff, Board of Directors, or Advisory Committees do not accept gifts or favors of more than nominal value. We also refuse any special treatment from persons or entities that are or could be a subject or source in our coverage, or otherwise have an interest in Resolve Philly’s reporting.
Our organization makes public all donors who give a total of $5,000 or more per year. As a journalism nonprofit, we avoid accepting charitable donations from anonymous sources, government entities, political parties, elected officials, or candidates seeking public office. We will not accept donations from sources who present a conflict of interest with our work or compromise our independence, as deemed by our board of directors. You can learn more about Modifier’s funders here.
Acknowledgement: Resolve Philly established this policy in accordance with standards developed by the Institute for Nonprofit News and found further guidance in the editorial independence policy of The Trace.
Do you offer DEI training?
Modifier is not your typical DEI consulting company. Our focus is truly on the E of that often-overused acronym. We believe that it is incredibly important for news organizations employing a predominately POC staff to build and maintain working environments that center the whole human and foster actual belonging and accessibility. These newsrooms must ground their working environements in policies and practices that acknowledge the disproportionate economic and social burdens, caregiving responsibilities, and mental health challenges faced by Black and Indigenous people, Latinx communities, AAPI folks, and other people of color. We are extremely excited to support these founders and leaders in building and growing the best possible version of their vision.
Modifier is also equipped to support white leaders and leaders of primarily white newsrooms in creating genuinely inclusive working environments through more thoughtful and intentional processes and workflows. We do not offer anti-bias nor cultural competency training, but our work can be complementary to these types of professional development and can add a tactical layer of implementation to a DEI assessment or audit that’s already been completed or is underway. We can support you in building a workplace that makes people from a wider breadth of life experiences not only want to join your team, but also stay on your team.
What is humanizing language?
Humanizing language is how we describe word choices that put the humanity and dignity of journalism’s subjects into focus. This often includes “people-first” language — that is, literally putting words like “people” or “person” first in a noun phrase, like “person who is incarcerated,” instead of using labels like “inmate.” But humanizing language also refers to:
- Sharing power with a source by using their self-description of their identity and pronouns in a story (like, “Evan is nonbinary and they just moved to town”)
- Avoiding dehumanizing language that lumps group of people together like objects (like, “the homeless”)
- Describing cause and effect rather than describing a community with generalizations (like, “this neighborhood has seen disinvestment and job loss in recent years,” rather than “it’s a poor neighborhood”)
Through these word choices, we hope to bring an authenticity and clarity to reporting that builds trust between journalists and their communities.
What are equitable news frames?
The definitions of news frames and framing when it comes to storytelling are far from concrete. But we lean on the definition of framing that comes from David Tewksbury: “…the verbal and visual information in an article [or news story] that directly or implicitly suggests what the problem is about, how it can be addressed, and who is responsible for creating and solving it.”
Framing news equitably includes:
- Avoiding “bothsidesism” by amplifying a range of viewpoints based on their factual accuracy and merit, not based on whether they simply come from an “opposing” side
- Amplifying the voices of those outside of traditional power structures rather than relying on those in positions of authority who are easily accessible for a quote
- Calling attention to systemic problems and systemic solutions over simplistic or episodic narratives
- Treating policy decisions that affect us all as such, rather than describing them as the chess moves of politicians
By insisting on framing news equitably, we hope to contribute to a journalism that industry that helps society address its problems.
What is community engagement?
Modifier centers the experiences and expertise of Resolve Philly’s community engagement team in our practice change work. Though “community engagement” means many things to many newsrooms, our definition stretches beyond the occasional public Q&A with reporters or social media analytics. To us, community engagement means building real, trusting, long-term relationships with individuals and grassroots organizations for the purposes of sharing resources and information and uplifting our neighbors. It also means supporting an organization’s constituents and engaging for the sake of learning — not solely as a transaction where participation in a news story or research is expected in return. Building these relationships takes many forms and requires creativity and patience, but the end result is journalism that truly reflects and understands the population it serves.