Join the members of the International Fund’s inaugural Board-elect and other prominent information ecosystem leaders around the world in signing our open letter calling for an increase in international support for independent media. The text of the letter is below.

Independent journalism is in financial crisis: An open letter calling for more international support

Facts are hard to come by these days. Disinformation plagues our information landscape and independent, accurate journalism is struggling to compete. Yet, without a shared understanding of facts, the most important elements of our societies suffer: elections are corrupted, social polarization accelerates, family ties fray. The purpose of public interest journalism has always been to share truthful information and valuable context about the issues that affect our lives. Why is it struggling now, when we need it most?

Independent news outlets around the world face a deepening financial crisis. With digital advertising increasingly flowing to large tech platforms instead of news media, the traditional business model of independent media has been severely undermined. In the last five years, global newspaper advertising revenue dropped by half. During this period, political and other actors have ramped up investment in their own propaganda, further undermining the credibility and independence of news sources and damaging our information ecosystem with disinformation.  Meanwhile, the financial and security costs of carrying out independent journalism have escalated. In many places the choice to practice independent journalism is a choice between freedom and imprisonment, life or death. 

And yet, if democracy is to endure, journalism must endure. 

Many media organizations around the world, especially in low- and middle-income countries, are at the forefront of reimagining the news and finding new ways to reach their audiences. Others continue to guard their independence against an onslaught of market and political forces conspiring against them at great cost. This battle has resulted in a widening gap between those able to access quality information and those who are systematically excluded. Without urgent action, the crisis may prove catastrophic to peace, democracy, global health, and the struggle for climate justice. 

The work of adapting independent news media to a challenging and rapidly changing digital environment is continuous, difficult and context specific. It will take years for us to implement new systems to support the financing of media.  But while we adapt to the arrival of that future, we must arrest the media extinction that is happening now. If we don’t, there will be no public interest journalism left in many countries. Accountability and democracy will be weakened irrevocably. 

We urge collective action to ensure the protection of independent media by the actions of governments, corporate entities, and civil society. Like clean water, basic health care, or public education, independent journalism is a public good.  It is indispensable to democratic values and institutions.  We are now suffering through a market failure of this public good. As for any such market failure, we need governments to step in.

Our request is that governments increase spending on media as part of their Overseas Development Assistance (ODA). International media funding has been static at 0.3% of ODA for many years, despite the crisis of disinformation and accelerating public interest media extinction. That amount is woefully insufficient to confront the scale of the problem we face. We, the undersigned, call for an urgent increase in the allocation of Overseas Development Assistance for the benefit of public interest media to 1% of all foreign aid. This would result in an extra US $1bn per year to tackle one of the most important issues of our time. To do nothing would be to exclude millions from the right to access the news they need to shape their lives.

To add your name to this call click here.



Maria Ressa – Nobel Peace Prize laureate and founder of Rappler (Philippines)

Mark Thompson – Former President and CEO of The New York Times Company and former Director General of the BBC (UK)

Gina Chua – Executive Editor, Semafor (USA)

Pascal Lamy – Former Director-General of the WTO and President of the Paris Peace Forum (France)

Nanjala Nyabola – Writer on African politics, democracy and digital rights (Kenya)

Dr Julie Posetti – Global Director of Research at the International Center for Journalists (Australia) 

Rana Ayyub – Writer & Journalist at the Washington Post (India)

Carlos Eduardo Huertas – Director, Connectas (Colombia)

Styli Charalambous – CEO, Daily Maverick (UK)

Sonia Awale – Nepali Times & Himalmedia Executive Editor (Nepal)

Dele Olojede – Writer & Publisher (South Africa)

Frane Maroević – Executive Director, International Press Institute (Austria)

Anton Harber – Caxton Professor of Journalism/Executive Director (South Africa)

Brenda Leonard – Managing director, Bush Radio (South Africa)

Alex Thier – Ceo, Lapis (USA)

Juanita Williams – Managing editor, allAfrica Global Media (South Africa)

Mkuseli Veto – Presenter, Bush Radio (South Africa)

Juan Camilo Maldonado – Director, Mutante (Colombia)

Maria José Jaramillo – Jaramillo, Comunicadora (Colombia)

Renata Rizzi – Co-founder, Nexo Jornal (Brazil)

Francis Sowa – National Coordinator, Media Reform Coordinating Group (Sierra Leone)

Zoe Titus – Director, Namibia Media Trust (Namibia)

Gwen Lister – Trustee, Namibia Media Trust (Namibia)

Emre Kizilkaya – Editor, Jouro (Turkey)

Marianela Balbi – Executive Director, IPYS Venezuela (Venezuela)

Cristina Zahar – Executive Director, Associação Brasileira de Jornalismo Investigativo (Brazil)

Dr Kate Skinner – Association of Independent Publishers (South Africa)

Asha Mwilu – Managing Director, Debunk Media (Kenya)

Siddharth Varadarajan – Founding Editor, The Wire (India)

Michal Rahfaldt – Executive Director, Radio Workshop (South Africa)

Tony Rigopoulos – Editor-in-chief, /Journalist, Documento newspaper (Greece)

Yusuf Omar – Co-founder, SEEN (Australia)

Theresa Mallinson – Operations Manager, Viewfinder (South Africa)

Hugo Alconada Mon – Investigative Reporter, Diario LA NACIÓN (Argentina)

Kareem Sakka – Publisher, Raseef22 (Lebanon)

Amina Frense – South African Press Council (South Africa)

Dapo Olorunyomi – Publisher, Premium Times Nigeria (Nigeria)

David Bishop – Broadcast Editor, Future Media News (Namibia)

Izak Minnaar – Former editor SABC Digital News / Press Council of South Africa; SA National Editors’ Forum (South Africa)

Mahmood Sanglay – CEO, The Compass NPC (South Africa)

Simon Allison – Editor-in-Chief, The Continent (South Africa)

Heather Robertson – Editor, Daily Maverick (South Africa)

Nompilo Simanje – Africa Advocacy and Partnerships Lead, International Press Institute (Zimbabwe)

Reyhana Masters – Independent Media and Communications Consultant (Zimbabwe)

Edetaen Ojo – Media Rights Agenda (Nigeria)

Dickson Kasote – Fesmedia Africa (Namibia)

Tabani Moyo – Regional Director, Media Institute of Southern Africa (Zimbabwe)

Nqaba Matshazi – Fundraising and Regional Campaigns Coordinator, Media Institute of Southern Africa (Zimbabwe)

Sulemana Braimah – Executive Director, Media Foundation for West Africa (Ghana)

Gilbert Sendugwa – Executive Director, Africa Freedom of Information Centre (Uganda)

Kudzayi Zvinavashe – Organiser, Content Creators Network ZW (Zimbabwe)

Vusumuzi Sifile – Executive Director, Panos Institute Southern Africa (Zambia)

Wolfgang Krach – Editor-in-Chief, Süddeutsche Zeitung (Germany)

Hlengiwe Dube – Project Manager, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria (South Africa)

Ramsey Tesdell – Co-founder, Sowt Media (Jordan)

Sipho Kings – Editorial Director, The Continent (UK)

Jaime Abello Banfi – Director General, Fundación Gabo (Colombia)

Tangeni Amupadhi – Editor & MD, The Namibian (The Free Press of Namibia) (Namibia)

Esther Haixwema – Mbathera, Freelance journalist (Namibia)

Joseph Ailonga – Broadcaster, Plug Media (Namibia)

Nomhle Odette Kangootui – Production Manager/Senior Journalist, Southern African Broadcasting Association/ The Namibian Free Press (Namibia)

Matthew Dlamini – Reporter, The Namibian (Namibia)

Raheem Adedoyin – The Herald Newspapers (Nigeria)

Branko Brkic – Editor-in-Chief, Daily Maverick South Africa

Francesca Beighton – GM, Reader Revenue, Daily Maverick

Jessica Bezuidenhout – Journalist, Daily Maverick

Emilie Gambade – Section editor, Daily Maverick

Yanancy Noguera – Señora, Colegio de Periodistas de Costa Rica

William Bird – Director, Media Monitoring Africa

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