New York, 4 February 2021: We are pleased to announce the 16 newsrooms selected to join the Membership in News Fund, a global fund to catalyze membership design in newsrooms around the world.
Participating media cover a wide range of editorial approaches and geographies, from an Arab-language satirical newsroom to a Colombian podcast studio, from a hyperlocal news organisation in southwestern Zimbabwe to a legacy investigative newsroom in Indonesia. See below for a full list of participants.
The Membership in News Fund helps news organizations build strong and flexible relationships with their audience members that can drive greater sustainability and impact. Implemented by the Membership Puzzle Project and Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF) and supported by Luminate, participants will receive targeted coaching and access to membership experts as they further engage with the communities they serve to increase reader engagement and membership outreach.
“We’re excited about everything these newsrooms and Membership Puzzle Project will learn about how membership works – and doesn’t work – in a wide variety of political, social, and economic contexts,” said Ariel Zirulnick, director of the Membership in News Fund. “MPP will document and share those lessons after the cohort concludes in summer 2021.”
“We are thrilled to be working with some of the most imaginative and dynamic independent media in the world,” said Harlan Mandel, MDIF CEO. “We aim to provide them with the support they need to further deepen their understanding of their audiences and build lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with their communities.”
In addition to funds, the grantees – which comprise 14 news organizations serving communities in 12 countries on five continents, plus one regional and one global outlet – will receive dedicated coaching and newsroom expertise in topics such as marketing, newsletters, community building, and audience development.
The $400,000 Membership in News Fund initiative received 219 applications from news organizations worldwide whose efforts to sustain their newsrooms and bring them closer to their audience members are vital in today's media environment. Work with the grantees has already started and will run until August 2021.
The full list of participating media is:
Agência Lupa – Agência Lupa is a Brazilian hub against misinformation that provides fact checked content for other media organizations and develops media literacy programs. The Membership in News Fund will support their effort to deepen audience engagement and diversify their revenue sources through the launch of a membership program.
Alhudood– Alhudood is an Arab satirical news organization that uses humor to cover politics, social and economic trends, religion and sectarianism, and other critical issues. The Membership in News Fund will support the re-launch of their membership program, which was put on hold during the pandemic.
BOOM (India) – BOOM (boomlive) is an India-based news organization that fights misinformation through fact checking, media literacy, and explanatory journalism in India, Myanmar, and Bangladesh. The Membership in News Fund will support their effort to deepen audience engagement and diversify their revenue sources through the launch of a membership program.
CIPER – CIPER is a Chilean investigative news organization that strengthens democracy and promotes an informed public by making critical policy issues more accessible and developing tools to empower citizens. They launched their membership program in August 2019, and the Membership in News Fund will support further development of their membership strategy.
Daily Trust – The Daily Trust is one of Nigeria’s largest daily news organizations. The Membership in News Fund will support their effort to deepen audience engagement and diversify their revenue sources through the launch of a membership program.
El Faro – El Faro is an investigative news organization covering Central America. They launched their membership program in 2017, and the Membership in News Fund will support further development of their membership strategy.
Global Voices – Global Voices is an international, multilingual community of writers, journalists, translators, academics, and digital rights and freedom of expression activists who cover issues and stories vital to their communities, primarily in the Global South. The Membership in News Fund will support the launch of a membership program to complement their Community Council and contributor network.
La No Ficción – La No Ficción is a Colombian podcast studio company that specializes in investigative storytelling. They launched their membership program in November 2019, and the Membership in News Fund will support further development of their membership strategy.
444 – 444 is an independent Hungarian digital news organization that publishes news, on-the-ground reporting, analysis, and in-depth investigation journalism so that Hungarians can make informed decisions about their lives, health, and security. They launched their membership program in 2020, and the Membership in News Fund will support further development of their membership strategy.
Mail & Guardian – The Mail & Guardian was founded at the height of apartheid to inform the South African public through quality journalism, and continues to set the news agenda and hold power to account. The Membership in News Fund will support the development of a membership strategy for their online opinion community, Thought Leader.
ShoTam – ShoTam is a Ukrainian news organization that produces constructive journalism in an effort to support social trust, cohesion, and civic engagement. They launched their membership program in 2020, and the Membership in News Fund will support further development of their membership strategy.
Tempo – Tempo is an independent Indonesian news organization that launched as a weekly magazine in 1971 and now publishes daily investigative and in-depth news coverage as well. The Membership in News Fund will support their effort to deepen audience engagement and explore a membership strategy for Tempo.
The Citizen Bulletin – The Citizen Bulletin is a Zimbabwean nonprofit news organization that produces hard-hitting, hyperlocal reporting and analysis for the southwestern region of Matabeleland. The Membership in News Fund will support their effort to build a loyal community around their news products and launch a membership program that matches the capacity of their audience members.
The News Minute – The News Minute is an Indian news organization that produces journalism about south India, from south India. They launched their membership program in 2020, and the Membership in News Fund will support further development of their membership strategy.
The Ukrainians Media – The Ukrainians Media is a Ukrainian independent media ecosystem comprising a number of media projects (The Ukrainians, Reporters, Creatives, NZL, Chytanka) to shape proactive urban youth and facilitate positive social change through longread interviews and reporting. They launched their membership program in 2020, and the Membership in News Fund will support further development of their membership strategy.
Volume – Volume is a podcasting company based in South Africa that produces quality longform audio reporting. The Membership in News Fund will support their effort to build a membership program across their full suite of podcasts.
About the Membership Puzzle Project Founded in 2017, the Membership Puzzle Project:
- Collects what is already known about making membership work for journalism by seeking out the people who have deep experience with membership models (including members themselves).
- Researches all the ways that community members can contribute, not just their money, but their knowledge and expertise.
- Funds innovative membership models that are being tested at news sites as part of a global experiment to identify best practices for sustaining independent journalism in the 21st Century.
- Synthesizes the key membership lessons learned by journalism organizations around the world.
About MDIF Media Development Investment Fund is a not-for-profit investment fund based in New York, United States. It provides debt and equity financing supported by technical assistance to independent media companies in countries where access to free and independent media is under threat. With approximately $110 million assets under management, since 1996 MDIF has invested more than $238 million in 123 independent media businesses in 42 countries. Its investments help independent media around the world provide the news, information and debate that people need to build free, thriving societies.
About Luminate Luminate is a global philanthropic organisation focused on empowering people and institutions to work together to build just and fair societies. It supports innovative and courageous organisations and entrepreneurs around the world, and advocates for the policies and actions that will drive change across four impact areas: Civic Empowerment, Data & Digital Rights, Financial Transparency, and Independent Media. Luminate works with its partners to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to participate in and to shape the issues affecting their societies, and to make those in positions of power more responsive and accountable. Luminate was established in 2018 by philanthropists Pierre and Pam Omidyar. The organisation was founded by The Omidyar Group.
For more information contact: Peter Whitehead, MDIF Director of Communications: [email protected]