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Author: Olga Komarova | 3. February 2020

For anyone familiar with the current trends impacting the journalism and news media sector, few are, as globally, relevant and existentially challenging as economic sustainability. This reality and the challenges it brings to our members have made strengthening the sustainability of the sector one of GFMD’s core strategic objectives. And just like with our work to enhance donor support for the wider sector, provide resources relevant to economic sustainability and digital markets, and support efforts to jointly establish a fund for investigative reporting, we are also working to help strengthen public-interest media around the world.

One of our significant engagements over the past few months has been around a proposition for the establishment of a new International Fund for Public Interest Media, which has been spearheaded by James Deane of BBC Media Action and the Luminate Foundation. The International Fund intends to provide an effective, legitimate, and efficient way of increasing support to independent media, especially in resource-poor settings where the economic, as well as political, challenges confronting independent media have become overwhelming. International media support today constitutes less than 0.3% of official development assistance, and other support strategies tend to be fragmented and are proving difficult to scale.

Although a detailed feasibility study setting out the case for establishing the Fund will be officially published in April 2020, the advanced copy of the executive summary is now available. The study is addressed to international development agencies, technology companies, philanthropic organisations, and others with an interest in supporting democracy and development where the market can no longer sustain independent media. You can download it here.

In addition to the feasibility study, GFMD also engaged in a media development stakeholders’ consultation at the request of BBC Media Action and the Luminate Foundation throughout September and October 2019 to solicit feedback concerning a proposition to establish a new International Fund for Public Interest Media. The purpose of the study, led by Susan Abbott, helped to improve the understanding of the issues related to the Fund’s justification, purposes, and scope, as well as ways to structure it to be most effective in reaching the areas of greatest need. We received feedback through 21 key informant interviews and survey responses from 87 media development practitioners from the GFMD network, particularly from stakeholders in the Global South and from the members of the GFMD Steering Committee. Overall, the research found that there is general agreement about the threats and challenges faced by journalism and independent media, and this enquiry has confirmed that the creation of the Fund or a similar mechanism to help address these issues is critical. For more information, check out the full report as well as the executive summary.

These reports demonstrate how we are coordinating feedback from among the community and are contributing to these important debates about the future of public-interest media and media sustainability. We will continue to prioritise economic sustainability among our work, and we will provide additional updates closer to the launch of the feasibility study. Thank you to everyone who contributed to our stakeholder consultation and to all who continue to offer their support to strengthen the journalism, news media, journalism support, and media development sectors.


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