The media, civil society, and democracy are under unprecedented duress around the world. Protecting the independent media and the public sphere presents an “epic challenge,” but there is great opportunity for philanthropy to step up and help. Bruce Sievers and Patrice Schneider detail five avenues worth pursuing in funding news media and argue that charitable donors should significantly increase their investment in the media.
Many media investors see disaster everywhere they look, as traditional media lose audience, revenues, and relevance. However, the importance of media is “absolutely obvious” and media companies need more support from democratic societies than they are getting.
It’s not unusual for investigative reporting to lead to huge fines. Exposés of foreign bribery, money laundering, and tax evasion have led to billions of dollars recovered by governments worldwide. What is shocking about these numbers is how they compare to the paucity of foreign aid to investigative journalists where it is most needed — in developing and transitioning countries.
In an era of increasing hostility to independent media, one of the bright spots is the rapid expansion of journalism nonprofits around the world — training, promoting, and reporting on stories that otherwise would never see the light of day. But a dangerous trend now threatens the progress our colleagues have made on press freedom and watchdog reporting: a crackdown on nonprofit organizations. Restrictions on international funding account for more than a third of the measures since 2012. With that in mind, we are pleased to reprint this important story from the Journal of Democracy, detailing the global scope of the backlash.
GIJN is a lifeline to those of us in front-line states like Pakistan — a constant source of sound advice, the latest tips and tools, and contacts around the world.
— Aamir Latif, General Secretary, Karachi Press Club
It’s the giving season, and GIJN is asking for your support. We’re a small nonprofit, created just two years ago to help investigative journalists around the world fight corruption and abuse of power. But we can’t do it alone. Since 2012, GIJN’s membership has doubled as journalists from Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East look to new tools, more data, and greater opportunities to access news and information. Investigative journalism – and the brave men and women who practice it – is at a pivotal moment. They need GIJN’s support – and we need yours.
One of the leading requests GIJN receives is for help with fundraising. With the global spread of nonprofit media, journalists are looking for new ways to raise funds and structure the “business side” of their news organizations. As a starting point, GIJN asked for advice from fundraising expert Bridget Gallagher, who helped launch the GIJN secretariat and has raised millions of dollars for nonprofits. “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” — Hockey great Wayne Gretzky
Growing your fundraising program — or getting one started — can feel like an overwhelming responsibility. The philanthropic landscape is extremely competitive; the prospect of identifying and soliciting prospective donors can seem cumbersome and intimidating.
Throughout much of the world, journalists’ legal rights of expression and access to information are ever-changing — and physical harm or financial injury are too often common. So it is some comfort to know that there are organizations willing to defend those legal rights established by regional, national, and international laws. Legal aid organizations may be limited, however, serving only a specific geographic region or limited to a specific area of law. Here are several well-established groups that specialize in getting legal assistance for journalists, as well as other helpful resources:
Media Legal Defence Initiative (International)
This global nongovernmental organization helps defend the rights of reporters across continents and across platforms — from print to broadcast and on line. The London-based group works with a network of legal defense organizations around the world, with individual lawyers and will also pay legal fees if necessary.
One of the bright spots in investigative journalism over the past decade has been the rapid spread of nonprofits dedicated to supporting in-depth journalism around the world. A 2012 survey by the Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) identified 106 investigative journalism nonprofits in nearly 50 countries – with more than half of them founded in the past five years. The list includes nonprofit newsrooms, online publishers, professional associations, grant-making funds, NGOs, training institutes, and academic centers. About half are based in the United States, where the hollowing out of traditional media has sparked the founding of dozens of these nonprofit newsrooms at the state and local level. Moreover, the trend does not appear to be abating.
*** Looking for info on fellowships to the Global Investigative Journalism Conference? You can find that and an application form here. ***
Seeking a chance to improve your skills and expand your world? Tired of the everyday routine in your newsroom? We regularly update our guide to grants and fellowships. These are programs of special interest to investigative journalists around the world.