Foundation-funded Journalism, Philanthro-capitalism and Tainted Donors (Article)

Kate Wright

January 9, 2018

Publication

By Kate Wright, Martin Scott and Mel Bunce. Not-for-profit news organisations are increasingly funded by private foundations, supported by wealthy entrepreneurs. This raises a range of ethical dilemmas for journalists, which are particularly serious when their donors are alleged to have been involved in unethical or illegal activities. Although this is a relatively common occurrence in the non-profit sector, so far there has been no critical discussion of these issues in relation to foundation-funded journalism. In this article, we interrogate a rich and detailed case study of the relations between a non-profit news organisation and a donor accused of being involved in a massive, international fraud scandal. We document how the news outlet justified their acceptance of this donor’s money; the defensive strategies they used to protect their reputation, organisational values and editorial freedom; and the conditions that ultimately led to journalists parting ways with the foundation. In so doing, we draw on ideas about philanthrocapitalism, stakeholders and resource dependence in order to develop model of how non-profits respond to “tainted” donors.

The article Foundation-funded Journalism, Philanthrocapitalism and Tainted Donors (Wright, Scott and Bunce) is published in the academic journal – Journalism Studies – and is freely available (open access) here – http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1461670X.2017.1417053

Jho Taek Low at the Social Good Summit in New York – Photo from Facebook

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"The orgs that publish crisis journalism have struggled to make it work financially, even if they’re nonprofits. The #NewHumanitarian hopes to buck that trend." @NiemanLab on the rise of @newhumanitarian (formerly IRIN News) and its drive for greater reach
https://t.co/8ZKiN4jFUX

This week saw some cork-popping 🍾 for the launch of The @NewHumanitarian. Reminded me of State of #Humanitarian Journalism report, highlighting importance of humanitarian news (most valued type of international news), but also its overall precarious state and big reporting gaps. https://t.co/NNRycv1cat

BIG Shout Out 2 Edinburgh's Sudanese Community (u kno who u r!) & to @RachelHosker1,KateWright @newsprof1/@africanstudies, Kirsty, Hannah, (+ Rowena @MorayHouseHoS) for helping us kickoff our 1st Sudan Studies group w/@SudanEdinburgh + @EdinburghUni
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