The International Fund for Public Interest Media is a bold new multi-stakeholder initiative designed to effectively diagnose and address the challenges facing public interest media in low- and middle-income countries and help to identify pathways toward long-term sustainability. Following an agreement with the French government, the International Fund will formally incorporate as an independent French association with a status akin to an international organization. This agreement was announced by Catherine Colonna, minister for Europe and foreign affairs of France, at the Paris Peace Forum in 2022.
In recent years, independent media has faced increasing political attacks, financial challenges, and weakening business models. In 2020, newspapers alone suffered a global revenue loss of $30 billion USD.
When independent media is weakened, it impacts all of society and threatens democracy. Corruption can be expected to rise. Violent extremism — often fueled 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.
The International Fund seeks to provide that response.
The International Fund defines public interest media as that which creates and distributes content that:
The International Fund is made possible through a unique partnership between government, philanthropic, and corporate actors collectively focused on scaling up funding for independent, public interest media. Guided by its unique governance structure, outlined below, the International Fund allows for new resources to support public interest media to be mobilized while ensuring its own actual and perceived independence as well as that of its grantees.
In mobilizing new resources within the sector, the International Fund seeks both to foster a truly multilateral and coordinated response to the crisis facing independent media and to be a vehicle for international cooperation among democracy-supporting nations. Its intent is to complement and enhance existing media support efforts, not reorganize or replace them. As part of these efforts, the International Fund is committed to charting a path toward increasing the ODA allocated to media development to 1%, consistent with the New Deal for Journalism endorsed by many sector stakeholders.
The International Fund’s innovative legal and governance structure is designed to help it deliver against its ambitious mission. It includes two governance bodies: a Board and a Council, each with unique responsibilities and areas of oversight.
The inaugural Board-elect is co-chaired by Maria Ressa, Nobel Peace Prize winner and co-founder and CEO of Rappler, and Mark Thompson, former president CEO of The New York Times Company. They are joined by the other members of the Board-elect, with additional appointments expected in the first half of 2023:
The International Fund is in the process of assembling its inaugural Council, which will include representatives from governments and media organizations in International Fund focus countries; government, corporate, and philanthropic donors; and media development experts. More information will be made available as Council members are confirmed.
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