Foundation support for international news: Mapping the landscape

Martin Scott

September 5, 2018

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By Martin Scott, Kate Wright and Mel Bunce. In this short report, we describe the key features of the landscape of private foundation support for international non-profit journalism. Our findings are based on interviews with representatives of a range of relevant foundations, intermediaries and non-profit news outlets in 2017.

See here for the full report: Foundation support for international news – Mapping the landscape – 2018

KEY FINDINGS:

1. Very few foundations support international non-profit journalism.
2. Support for international journalism is a very small part of the funding profiles of all the active foundations and does not appear to be increasing.
3. By contrast, foundation support makes up a very large proportion of funding for many non-profit news organisations and intermediaries specialising in international news.
4. There are significant disparities between the amounts of support that different international issues receive.
5. Most foundations support international journalism because they are interested in media capacity-building, or bringing about social change through journalism.
6. Foundation-funded news outlets and the intermediaries that distribute such funding are often expected to provide evidence of the ‘impact’ of their work.
7. There are three main reasons for the limited amount of foundation support for international journalism:
a) It rarely aligns directly with the strategic priorities of a foundation (and so has to compete either with all other forms of journalism, or with numerous other ways of achieving the specific objectives of a foundation).
b) Many foundations and journalists are unwilling to accept or negotiate the risks and challenges involved in reaching a compromise on the nature of the beat being funded.
c) There are inherent difficulties associated with isolating and measuring the impact of international news.
8. Foundations rarely advertise ‘open calls’ for funding. Instead, support emerges from an informal process of relationship building and ongoing dialogue between foundations and non-profit news organisations / intermediaries.

Scott, M. Wright, K. Bunce, M. (2018). Foundation support for international non-profit news: Mapping the funding landscape. University of East Anglia.

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