International Fund for Public Interest Media

Providing an effective and efficient way to increase institutional support of public interest media

The challenge

The conditions for public interest media are fundamentally challenging, with a huge fall in revenue going to news and the worrying rise of authoritarian governments cracking down on robust reporting. This chronic decline has now been overlaid by a new, acute crisis: in many communities the pandemic will be a “media extinction event”. 

As advertising migrates online, and the costs of independent journalism escalate, the business models available to public interest media are disappearing. This is playing out all over the world but is particularly acutely felt in lower income countries where media infrastructure is most fragile and new, engaged audiences are not necessarily leading to revenue as online advertisers pay so little per click.

Public interest media matter now more than ever as a key pillar of democracy, good governance, and sustainable development.

How the Fund would work

While there is support for media by government donors and philanthropic organisations, the current aid is insufficient, fragmented, and poorly organised; there are few signs that the international development system currently feels it has the expertise, legitimacy, capability, or confidence to respond meaningfully to the unfolding media crisis.

International donors have a key role to play in helping to save the public interest media – both during the current crisis and over the longer term.

A feasibility study conducted by BBC Media Action shows an International Fund for Public Interest Media would be an effective vehicle for bolstering public interest media, especially in low- and middle-income regions in the next decade or two, until new business models can be developed.

Enabling Media Markets to Work for Democracy: An International Fund for Public Interest Media

Luminate's Nishant Lalwani, BBC Media Action's James Deane, and Global Forum for Media Development's Mira Milosevic discussed the International Fund for Public Interest Media (IFPIM) at RightsCon in July 2020.

We're grateful for the guidance and input of an informal advisory group of media development organisations, funders, and academics on the feasibility of an International Fund for Public Interest Media.

  • Alan Soon - Co-Founder and CEO, Splice Media
  • Bobby Ghosh - Former Editor in Chief, Hindustan Times
  • Camille Grenier - Project Officer, Information and Democracy Forum, Reporters Without Borders
  • Christophe Deloire - CEO, Reporters Without Borders
  • Ethan Zuckerman - Associate Professor of Public Policy, Information and Communication, University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Director of the Institute for Digital Public Infrastructure 
  • Guy Berger - Director, Division for Freedom of Expression, UNESCO
  • Helena Bjuremalm - Deputy Head, Democracy and Human Rights Division, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency
  • James Deane - Director, Policy & Research, BBC Media Action and Project Leader
  • Jeanne Bourgault - CEO, Internews
  • Kathy Im - Director, Journalism and Media, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
  • Lauren Pabst - Senior Program Officer, Journalism & Media, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
  • Madhav Chinnappa - Google News Initiative
  • Maria Ressa - CEO, Rappler, Philippines
  • Mark Nelson - Director, National Endowment for Democracy Center for International Media Assistance, US
  • Mira Milosevic - Executive Director, Global Forum for Media Development
  • Mohamed Nanabhay - Deputy CEO, Media Development Investment Fund
  • Nishant Lalwani - Managing Director, Luminate
  • Rasmus Kleis Nielsen - Director, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, University of Oxford
  • Rosie Parkyn - Acting CEO, Internews Europe
  • Sarah Hartley - Google News Initiative
  • Sarah Lister - Head of Governance, UNDP
  • Ying Chan - Founding Director and Professor, Journalism, University of Hong Kong

Would you like more information about the Fund or to provide feedback on the Feasibility Study?