The fund

An International Fund for Public Interest Media would increase support to independent media to enable their development, sustainability and independence - especially in resource-poor and fragile settings.

Why it exists

In recent years, independent media has faced increasing political attacks, financial challenges, and weakening business models.

The global loss in revenue in 2020 of newspapers alone is estimated at US$30 billion. When independent media is weakened, it impacts all of society and threatens democracy.

Corruption can be expected to rise. Violent extremism – often fuelled by corruption – finds more fertile ground. Social cohesion is diminished, particularly where media falls into the hands of those who co-opt it to advance their own political or factional agendas. Conflict and instability become more likely.

To avoid the collapse of vital independent media, we need a more coordinated global response that creates a step change in support.

Read more about the issues here.

What is it

The principal role of the International Fund for Public Interest Media is to enable media to work for democracy.
It will support the media through this time of existential threat and develop lasting solutions to the current media market failure in low- and middle- income countries.

The Fund complements existing efforts. It catalyses new money as a globally coordinated but fully independent vehicle that can activate quickly to provide critical funding and support to hundreds – if not thousands – of public interest media organisations worldwide.

The Fund has been designed to minimise interference in the internal affairs of the countries it supports. Its governance arrangements and international nature ensure funds are allocated efficiently and in ways that command maximum legitimacy in the eyes of media institutions and other democratic stakeholders in beneficiary countries. 

We have developed the concept, completed a detailed Feasibility Study, have a founding team, and operational funding in place. Now, we need the decisive will and action to raise funds at scale to strengthen public interest media around the world.

An International Fund for Public Interest Media would provide an effective means to tackle the current media extinction event and enable media to work for democracy.

Goals of the fund

The Fund will sustain public interest media, while helping to create the conditions where such a fund is no longer required.

1.

Sustain independent media in countries around the world by channeling funding via an independent, apolitical vehicle

2.

Invest in the development of long term, systemic strategies capable of sustaining public interest journalism in the future

3.

Reduce the impact of mis- and dis- information on democracies by ensuring that ethical, non-partisan, credible media has the financial backing to succeed

4.

Bolster press freedom by supporting journalists and news organisations that speak truth to power

5.

Be a critical tool to complement other existing initiatives providing support for independent media and press freedom

Aims of the International Fund for Public Interest Media

Nishant Lalwani, Director of Independent Media at Luminate

Who is it for?

The Fund’s capital will be allocated to a broad range of public interest media organisations and journalists around the world. These include those that:

1.

Are independent of vested - political, corporate or criminal - interests

2.

Publish reporting that informs the public, objectively and accurately, on the issues that shape their lives

3.

Strive to be balanced and representative in a way that allows public debate and dialogue across society

4.

Work to hold power to account on behalf of the public

How will it work

The Fund will have three main components to its work. The first is an investigative journalism fund. The second will work through a series of regional centres to provide financial support to independent public interest media at a national level. The third is to support media development or other intermediary organisations in a position to financially support independent media – especially where legislative or other obstacles prevent support through regional centres. 

Cutting across all of this work will be a “What Works” unit designed to crystallise learning of which strategies are most effective over time. 

The Fund’s activities will be broadly divided between: providing financial support to independent media; and working with a range of stakeholders to map out and support long term systemic strategies capable of fixing the current market failure confronting independent media.   

Fundraising

The Fund has secured significant foundational and operational funding. Fundraising for capital allocation is now in progress.

The goal is to reach a billion dollars of additional funding for public interest media around the world.

The Fund makes increasing support to independent media simple, effective and most likely to develop the kind of long term strategies that can more systematically address the business model challenge. 

We are seeking to partner with government, big tech and other private sector companies, development agencies, philanthropists, and others to ramp up their support and funding to public interest media and protect its critical role in our societies. 

This is an opportunity for existing funders of independent media to pool resources. It is also a cost-effective mechanism for new donors seeking to support independent media.

Governance

The Feasibility Study sets out the proposed governance arrangements of the Fund. The recommendations are based on extensive consultations across and outside the sector.
The proposed governance structure is guided by a set of clear principles:
Diversity
A diverse and inclusive Board that is representative of the geographies the Fund is designed to benefit
Independence
The Board - not funders - will determine spending priorities
Expertise
People will be appointed based on their expertise and credibility, not on their organisational affiliation
Avoiding conflicts of interest
No Board member could normally represent an organisation that would financially benefit from the Fund

As we start fundraising in earnest, we will need political and diplomatic leadership from those countries and stakeholders most committed to reinvigorating democracy.

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