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  • Writer's pictureZoe Greenfield

Where journalism, advocacy and social enterprise meet

Zoe Greenfield, discusses her background as a third sector generalist, experience with indie journalism and how they led her to her new role as PINF's Business Manager.

It makes me slightly uneasy being asked to write this; I’m not a writer—aside from the occasional funding application—and I’ve spent my career surrounded by people who are much better writers than me!

I have been a freelancer since March 2023 after a two-year stint as CEO of the Ethical Journalism Network and seven years in senior roles with the International Network of Street Papers. I sort of fell into this world of indie news, community media and journalism support, via various fundraising roles and a bit of social enterprise thrown in for good measure.

Today, I consider myself very lucky to be able to work on projects where my professional expertise and personal interests intersect.

I would describe myself as a third sector generalist, and I’ve managed to avoid the pressure on freelancers to “know your niche”. There have certainly been a couple of common threads in my work over the last decade or so, including working with network organisations for collective impact and working to increase the capacity and sustainability of projects related to community media, broadly speaking.

My first foray into the confluence of journalism, advocacy and social enterprise came during my time at INSP. Much of this work focused on challenges related to changes in media consumption which raised fundamental questions for the street paper model where for several decades a print publication and human interaction had been at the core.

This role, working with non-profit publications in 35 countries, allowed me to gain an international perspective on issues relating to media and publishing, community development and advocacy, in addition to the funding landscape.

I was inspired by the work of many of INSP’s member publication using journalism to challenge policies and change lives - not only providing economic opportunity but challenging negative stereotypes and biased media coverage through campaigning, advocacy and good, local journalism.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, I oriented my work at INSP towards business continuity and crisis management for the organisation itself and our member publications.

I witnessed these outlets prove they have a critical role not only in delivering robust, independent journalism to their communities but in supporting people by providing economic opportunity and practical support. They also did this while elevating the voices of those with lived experience of poverty and related social justice issues, especially those disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

This experience led me to the Ethical Journalism Network, where I was CEO for almost two years. Now, a year into life as a freelance consultant, I have a constantly evolving portfolio of projects. I love the challenge (some would call it the hustle!), the variety and the ability to work from anywhere.

I’m interested in many of the things which on the surface are dry and boring, or in many organisations reduced to tick box exercises but where I see opportunities for constructive challenge and to create change, to push the limits of what is possible within the bounds of the current legal and regulatory framework in the sector.

I’m also excited by these structural and governance and questions as they relate to indie publishers—just this week we saw the Guildford Dragon becoming the first of its kind to gain charitable status, adding to a substantial roster of business models available to publishers who produce news in the public interest.

In my role with PINF, I support the Executive Director and the Board, making sure the organisation meets its legal obligations and laying the foundations for growth. I see a big part of my role as creating extra capacity for the Director (Jonathan) to focus on his work while I support and enhance back-office operations and governance.

I love how ambitious PINF is as an organisation and combining this ambition with prioritising getting the basics right, I believe will set the organisation up for longer term success.

In addition to working with PINF, I’m currently doing some grant assessment work and about to start some consulting through the Community Enterprise Accelerate programme in Scotland.

Last year I was privileged to work with the team behind The Scottish Beacon as they prepared to launch the community media collaborative and then with Greater Govanhill.

I especially loved going to work in their Community Newsroom. Compared to times when my work could feel rather philosophical or abstract, it was fantastic to be a part of this work which is so rooted in community. I’ll continue to take every chance to go to the newsroom and hot desk there while I’m wearing my PINF hat.

It feels like a really exciting time to join the organisation. I can’t wait to see what we and indie news publishes across the country can achieve collectively as we drive forward positive change in journalism. And most importantly, the impact this will have in our communities.

I’m enjoying having the opportunity to draw on my varied experience to contribute to team meetings and strategic discussions, and I especially like having been given the green light NOT to stay in my lane!


Zoe Greenfield is freelance Business Manager at PINF.


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