The latest on journalism funding under coronavirus (Newsletter 011)
We’re keeping this week’s newsletter short and to the point - everyone seems to be staggering under the weight of work, kids, caring responsibilities, exponential increases in Zoom calls, and so on.
What is happening to journalism in Europe and beyond?
As we know, things are pretty bad, and getting worse – both in economic terms as advertising collapses, and in press freedom terms as many governments crackdown on the media:
- RSF’s latest World Press Freedom Index reports rising press freedom violations in the EU and candidate countries under the cover of coronavirus protection, worsening the “many crises that threaten the right to freely reported, independent, diverse and reliable information”.
- The ICFJ highlights why journalism is essential to overcoming COVID-19, but why it’s in danger from the ‘viral load of disinformation’.
- Turkey is leaving its jailed journalists behind bars while releasing other prisoners.
- News organisations across the world – for example in Hong Kong, India, Indonesia or Kenya – continue to have to take tough measures to cope with the advertising turndown.
- Lastly, freelancers are feeling the knock-on effects, both within Europe (e.g. Belgium) and beyond.
But it’s not all doom and gloom
- Ross Settles from Hong Kong University breaks down in a practical and clear way exactly how small independent media can try to weather the storm of COVID-19 (also noted by OSF here).
- This research by RISJ on how people in six countries are ‘navigating the infodemic’ (aqui en espanol) offers some encouraging signs for the news media.
- First Draft continues to provide a digestible daily breakdown of the best reads and information on disinformation.
- If you use Trello, you may find this constantly updated overview of COVID-19 resources from the Agora Journalism Center in the US useful.
- Croatian journalists released a video telling their fellow citizens they’ll continue to tell them what’s happening.
- A TV advert in support of journalism as a source of reliable information during times of crisis has been released by the Journalists’ Union of the Athens Daily Newspapers.
What are funders doing to respond?
The two major rounds of emergency funding for journalism (from Google globally, which closes at midnight Pacific Time on 29 April, and Facebook/EJC in Europe, which closed last week) have been supplemented by a handful of other funds that journalism groups and freelancers can approach (and one instance of microloans that may be copied elsewhere). More comprehensive media sector rescue packages from governments are rare and slow in coming through (little has changed in this WAN-IFRA overview since 02 April).
- Philanthropy’s dilemma: Should it focus on grantees’ welfare and the health of endowments, or cast aside traditional norms and practices by increasing budgets?
- Italy’s response to the crisis has inspired peers in Ukraine and France (Italian speakers can also listen in on this recent Nesta Italia panel with Assifero’s Carola Carazzone).
- Community foundations are coming to the forefront, although their potential role in supporting local media is still not clear (let us know if you know more).
- This open document (curated by Stephanie Reuter of Rudolf Augstein Stiftung) is pulling together the many responses within German philanthropy, and this Civitates document by grantees and funders continues to evolve.
- 360Giving’s CovidTracker shows a portion of how UK grantmakers are responding to COVID-19 – and may persuade more donors of the value of investing in open grants data.
What will happen after the crisis?
While few funders have been able to respond to the needs of journalism in an emergency setting, in many conversations we’re having, the discussion is turning towards what support might look like in the post-crisis world. One positive new development last week was the launch of UK human rights organisation Liberty’s new independent investigative journalism unit, Liberty Investigates – adding to the store of independent thematic newsrooms funded or founded by civil society organisations and movements.
In that context, you may find these very different three reads thought-provoking:
- The Monday Note’s Frederic Filloux asks his students what they think post-COVID-19 media might look like (this is really terrific).
- Journalism professor Jay Rosen asks whether the metaphors around journalism and democracy are doing it a disservice (a difficult but necessary debate).
- Victor Pickard of the Annenberg School for Communication has been making the case in the US for decoupling media from profit motives – here he discusses with media critic Mathew Ingram what that means practically.
Until next time, stay safe!
[You can read the online version of this edition here.]