The issue

Independent media, acknowledged for generations as a fundamental pillar for the functioning of democratic societies, is under unprecedented and, in some settings, existential threat.

That threat is both political and economic

The business model which has long supported independent journalism has been eroding for a decade as advertising — often the principal source of income for independent media organizations — has migrated online. This problem was only exacerbated and hastened by the COVID-19 pandemic, which transformed a chronic economic challenge into an acute economic crisis.

And yet only 0.3% of overseas development assistance (ODA) — around $430 million USD — goes to supporting media globally. Funders conclude that their commitments are inadequate and they do not currently have the systems or mechanisms necessary to create impact.

The threats are also political. Today, just 13% of the world’s population enjoys access to free media. Meanwhile, politically motivated attacks on journalists and investigative reporters that speak the truth are growing. Democracy is in retreat. Autocracies are on the march and their path to power is principally by attacking the media.

The consequences

The consequences of an eroded public interest media are dire. There are serious implications for electoral politics, corruption, and meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are increasingly endangered by growing misinformation.

The International Fund provides an ambitious, coordinated, and well resourced international response to this crisis.

Democratic costs
The threat to democracy
As citizens are unable to make informed democratic choices
Corruption set to rise
As corrupt or authoritarian actors pay to neutralize independent media and attacks on journalists escalate
Growth of social tension and conflict
As mis- and dis-information rise and media are unable to engage across societal fracture lines
Self-determination and cultural sovereignty
As democratic media spaces empty, undemocratic media actors occupy them
Developmental costs
Threat to achieving sustainable development goals
It is difficult to conceive that SDGs can be holistically achieved without the participation of informed and engaged societies
Epidemics and disease
Vaccination boycotts and attacks on health outreach workers prompted by misinformation campaigns are becoming increasingly common
Famine and government responsiveness
A hamstrung media is unable to expose or hold governments accountable for wrongdoing, mismanagement or emerging crises

Stories of impact

Members of the International Fund’s inaugural grantee cohort share how they will use IFPIM funding to navigate challenges they face and to serve their audiences and public interest missions.
Bush Radio (South Africa)
Mutante (Colombia)
Nawaat (Tunisia)

The International Fund's 2023 annual report provides an overview of its progress during its initial operational phase.

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