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PINF Emergency Fund grantees announced

The Public Interest News Foundation (PINF) has today announced the first twenty grants from its Covid-19 Emergency Fund.

The successful applicants include a Scottish investigative journalism NGO, a podcasting collective based in London and a 160-year-old local newspaper from North-West England.

Emily Atherton, Editor of Cumberland and Westmorland Herald, said:

‘We are incredibly grateful to PINF for their support. The grant — which has come at a time when advertising revenue in particular has taken a hard hit — could not be more welcome. It’s a ray of sunshine in what has been an incredibly difficult time for us as a rurally-based independent newspaper.

Nine thousand-plus weekly readers across the scattered communities of East Cumbria rely on the Cumberland and Westmorland Herald to keep them informed and connected. This has been more important than ever during the Covid-19 lockdown when a sense of shared experience has been key to combating isolation, especially among older readers’.

Sarah Cheverton, Editor of Star and Crescent, said:

‘Our team were hard hit by the pandemic as our funding plans centred on delivering projects in person, in the local community. We've worked as volunteers since March and have seen growth in both our audience and our community engagement during the lockdown. This funding allows us to build on that, working directly with local communities to report on the impact the pandemic has had on those disproportionately affected by Covid-19, economically, socially, and in terms of their physical and mental well-being.’

When the Covid-19 outbreak hit the UK, PINF and the Independent Community News Network (ICNN) found that 75% of independent news providers were at risk of closure and 95% were not benefiting from any form of government support.

With the support of the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, PINF launched the Covid-19 Emergency Fund and invited applications from independent news providers across the UK.

89 organisations applied for grants of £3,000 each, and the twenty successful applicants were chosen by a Selection Panel of ten experts, chaired by Dame Frances Cairncross, author of the recent government-backed review of public interest journalism.

Frances Cairncross, Chair of the PINF Selection Panel, said: ‘The response to the PINF Emergency Fund was overwhelming: 89 different small news groups applied for a grant. And as the review of the applications proved, there is huge creativity in the newsrooms of small publishers across the UK.’

The successful applicants will each receive a grant of £3,000 and will also benefit from a programme of professional development, with support from international journalism experts and innovators.

Jonathan Heawood, Executive Director of PINF, said: ‘This is a great start, but there’s so much more to do to support independent public interest journalism in the UK. Everyone has a role to play – big tech, government, philanthropists and the established news media. We all need to pull together if we want to see a positive future for journalism.’

The PINF grants will be administered by Internews, the international media development charity.

The successful applicants in full:

  • Bankside Press ( – a family-run print and digital news service based in south-east London.

  • Cumberland and Westmorland Herald ( – an independent weekly broadsheet newspaper, covering Penrith and East Cumbria since 1860.

  • Emito ( – an online news service for the Polish community in the UK.

  • The Ferret Media Ltd ( – an award-winning investigative journalism platform covering public interest stories in Scotland and beyond.

  • gal-dem ( – a print and digital publication committed to sharing perspectives from women and non-binary people of colour.

  • Hyperlocal Today ( a network of mobile-first hyperlocal websites, dedicated to publishing news in a lean and sustainable way.

  • Isle of Thanet News ( – an online news service for Ramsgate, Margate, Broadstairs and surrounding villages.

  • Leicester Updates ( – an online news service, covering news, sport, entertainment, culture and life in and around Leicestershire.

  • Llanelli Online ( – an online news service providing training opportunities for aspiring journalists in Carmarthenshire.

  • Lochside Press ( – an online news service covering the area around the Clyde sea lochs.

  • Network Norwich & Norfolk ( – an online news service covering the Norfolk Christian community.

  • Now Then Magazine ( – a print and digital magazine covering arts, culture and politics in Manchester and Sheffield.

  • On The Wight ( – an online news service covering the Isle of Wight for residents and visitors.

  • Planet Magazine ( – a print and digital magazine, launched in 1970 to provide English-language coverage of Welsh news.

  • Shetland News Online Limited ( – an online news service covering the Shetland Isles.

  • Star & Crescent ( – an independent news website for Portsmouth that believes in the power of journalism to create social change.

  • Unedited Stories ( – exploring complex ethical issues through podcasts, radio shows and documentaries.

  • View Digital ( – a print and digital magazine in Northern Ireland covering issues that have a major effect on society.

  • Wokingham Paper ( – a print and digital news service covering the borough of Wokingham.

Media Enquiries:


The Public Interest News Foundation (PINF) is supporting independent providers to tell the stories that matter. At the Public Interest News Foundation, we aim to bring out the unique value of independent news providers of every kind. Through grants, advice and networking, we can unlock their potential to strengthen our democracy.


The Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust (JRRT) supports organisations and individuals working for democratic and political reform in the UK. The Trust is primarily a grant-maker but also commissions research and organises events about issues it works on.

JRRT is one of three trusts created in 1904 by Joseph Rowntree, the York-based Quaker businessman who made a considerable fortune from the chocolate company that bore his name. He transferred a large part of his wealth to the three trusts, each designed to reflect and tackle contemporary social issues.

Internews, an international nonprofit organisation, operates with administrative centres in California, Washington DC, London and Paris, as well as regional hubs in Bangkok and Nairobi. Formed in 1982, Internews has worked in more than 100 countries and currently has offices in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and North America.

The PINF Covid-19 Emergency Fund was launched with a £60,000 grant from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust. PINF is looking to build on the success of the Emergency Fund, to provide more support to more news providers, and would welcome conversations with prospective donors.


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