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Statement on PINF’s grant to 5 Pillars from the Covid-19 Emergency Fund

At the Public Interest News Foundation (PINF), we aim to support independent news providers who follow high standards of journalism and whose work provides a benefit to the public.

In response to the Covid-19 crisis, PINF launched an Emergency Fund to provide independent news providers with financial grants.

In order to deal with the high demand for these grants, we designed a simple one-stage application process and recruited an expert Selection Panel to assess the applications.

We received 89 applications, including one from 5 Pillars, a news, analysis and opinion site about issues affecting Muslims in Britain and around the world.

To demonstrate that they follow high standards of journalism, we asked applicants to confirm whether they were regulated (e.g. by IPSO or IMPRESS) or otherwise accountable for their professional standards (e.g. to the NUJ or ICNN). 5 Pillars is regulated by IMPRESS and thus satisfied this requirement.

Each eligible application was assessed by two Panel members against three criteria:

· having a track record of publishing public benefit journalism;

· responding to the Covid-19 crisis through journalism or related activities; and

· having a clear vision for their future development as a news organisation.

On the basis of the information provided in their application, 5 Pillars scored well against these criteria and were selected to receive a grant. The grant was authorised by the trustees of PINF on 10 June and payment was made on 15 June.

On 18 June, the trustees became aware of concerns relating to the journalism and related social media activity of 5 Pillars. By this point, the grant to 5 Pillars had been paid and could not be withdrawn.

We take extremely seriously the concerns that were raised about some of the material on the 5 Pillars website and related social media accounts. PINF exists to promote active citizenship and community engagement by supporting public interest journalism with high standards. We do not wish to support journalism that does not provide a benefit to the public.

In response to this situation, PINF is taking the following steps:

· We are encouraging anyone with concerns about the journalism and related social media activity of 5 Pillars to raise these concerns with IMPRESS as a matter of urgency;

· We have confirmed with 5 Pillars that the grant must only be used for charitable objects and activities and must be repaid if 5 Pillars is the subject of an adverse regulatory decision by IMPRESS; and

· We are reviewing our grantmaking policies and procedures to ensure that our expectations of public interest journalism are set out more clearly in future, and that future grantees meet these expectations.

24 June 2020


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