The International Fund seeks to support the long-term sustainability and economic resilience of independent media across its focus regions. It does so through providing funding to media organizations in need of immediate financial support and through working across a series of cross-cutting priority areas, three of which are outlined below.
Building inclusive news ecosystems
The work of building more inclusive media organizations and ecosystems represents one of the most significant opportunities in envisioning new models for sustaining public interest journalism into the 21st century.
In media ecosystems around the world, historically underrepresented communities continue to face barriers to accessing and participating in the creation of news about issues that affect their lives. Women, and particularly women of color, are significantly underrepresented globally as reporters, newsroom leaders, and as the focus of media coverage. Research has also revealed that, on average, women consume less news than men. Improving the inclusivity of media ecosystems has profound implications for audience engagement and building inroads with audiences that are disengaged or not being reached by reliable, trustworthy media that represents them and their needs.
Through its grant-making and other activities, the International Fund seeks to support greater diversity and inclusion within global news ecosystems and address inequalities in access to information, particularly within historically underrepresented communities.
Engaging young audiences
One of the fundamental challenges facing newsrooms globally is that of reaching and engaging with young people. As the digital media landscape evolves and consumption patterns change, newsrooms are under increasing pressure to understand and respond to the diverse interests and needs of younger audiences.
Reaching young people is crucial to the future of journalism, and is especially important to the International Fund given the high proportion of youth in its focus regions and the impact they will have on democratic systems and public discourse in the near future.
There are promising examples of outlets experimenting with new ways to engage young people, including among the International Fund’s first cohort of grantees. Further experimentation is needed to continue testing and scaling approaches that work in different contexts.
The International Fund supports independent media outlets innovating across several areas — including scope of editorial coverage, audience engagement models, formats, and newsroom practices — to create public interest media that engages younger generations.
Deploying new technologies effectively and ethically
Advances in technology have historically had major impacts on media ecosystems. In the last 20 years, the digital revolution transformed how journalism is produced and consumed, while the advent of ‘Big Tech’ platforms upended its business model. Today, the rapid development of AI creates new and potentially transformational challenges and opportunities.
The International Fund is focused on the “next decade” of trends and possibilities around AI and other emerging technologies, with a view to identifying what works for both the financial viability of independent media as well as the public interest. This entails supporting newsroom experimentation with AI while also serving as a source of thought leadership for policymakers developing regulatory approaches.
Beyond AI, many organizations in the International Fund’s focus regions desperately need investment in other enabling technologies (e.g., customer relationship and content management systems, etc.) that can transform their ability to serve audiences. Yet these tools often remain prohibitively costly to procure and maintain.
The International Fund supports newsrooms seeking to improve their tech stacks, including through dedicated grants and partnerships with technology partners.