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  • Writer's pictureJoe Mitchell

How to design a £100m/yr UK journalism fund: by the people, of the people, for the people

PINF recently helped Dr. Debs Grayson and the Media Reform Coalition create and launch a guide to participatory grantmaking in journalism. In this post, you can access the full guide, catch-up with the launch recording, and read a quick summary from PINF’s Deputy Director, Joe Mitchell.

One of our aims at PINF is to build the capacity of public interest news providers. A significant part of that is financial - the sector needs greater resources to employ staff, create content, practice good engagement with communities, and so on.

Let’s imagine a significant funding pot was created: how would it be spent? Who’s eligible? Who decides what goes where? What does an effective, legitimate journalism funding process look like?

These are big, tough questions. So we were delighted to be asked by Dr Debs Grayson, formerly of the Media Reform Coalition, to assist their project, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, to write a guide to inform future journalism grantmaking - one that puts public participation at its heart.

You can dive straight into the full guide via this link: “Funding journalism using participatory grantmaking: A guide”.

To summarise briefly, the guide covers:

  • The crisis that public interest journalism now faces - and how reimagining how journalism is funded helps us to reimagine how it is practised too;

  • Lessons from the world of participatory grantmaking, where, if done well, we can see better decision-making, more connections between grantees and communities, more transparency and accessibility;

  • Case studies from, among others, Independence Public Media Foundation in the USA, which has tested this approach through a community journalism fund where grants were reviewed by a panel of community members;

  • Values and principles that a participatory journalism fund should adopt: independence, accountability, democracy, and universality;

  • Questions to ask when setting up such a participatory fund, around purpose, structure, setting priorities, strategy, types of grant, decision-making, and operations;

  • A proposal for a £100m/yr journalism fund in the UK to be run on participatory principles: a regional-national federated structure, with eligibility and priorities set by a citizens assembly, with decisions on grants taken by smaller citizens panels.

Again, there’s much more detail and explanation in the full guide - take a look here.

For more, you can catch up on the launch event below.

It includes the presentation of the guide from Debs, and responses and contributions from: Samíl Jimenez-Magdaleno of the Independence Public Media Foundation in the USA, whose pilot project is a case study in the guide; Sameer Padania, who has experience with journalism funders across the world; and Dylan Moore, from the Institute for Welsh Affairs, on recent moves from the Welsh Government looking at support for public interest journalism.

We’re excited to carry this work forward. If you are interested or inspired too - or have useful case studies or evidence to share - we’d love to hear from you via the usual channels.

Get in touch and subscribe to our newsletter here.


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