26 March 2019

In episode 46, we ask why the media is looking to philanthropy as a source of funding, why philanthropic funders are interested in supporting journalism, and what challenges and opportunities this might bring. Including:

  • Why has journalism come to the attention of funders and philanthropists recently?
  • How are funders and CSOs using journalism to further their causes?
  • How many funders see journalism and a free press as an important public good in and of themselves, and are thus willing to fund general journalism?
  • What role could philanthropic funding for news media play in addressing problems like targeted online misinformation and the erosion of public discourse online?
  • What should we make of the rise of non-profit newsrooms like ProPublica?
  • Is the reader voluntary subscription model taken by the Guardian etc. is better than relying on a single major donor?
  • What approaches are philanthropic funders taking to supporting news media?
  • Is there a challenge in maintaining editorial independence when receiving philanthropic funding?
  • Is the way in which philanthropic funding can take pressure off news media outlets to generate revenue a good thing, or is there a danger that it will lead to them losing focusing on what is of interest to an audience, and thus become less sustainable in the long term?
  • Does philanthropic funding of news media undermine journalism’s ability to hold philanthropy itself to account (as many feel it should)?
  • Can ownership of news outlets exacerbate the distorting effect that philanthropy already has on democracy?
  • Is there a danger that in encouraging philanthropic support for news media, we make journalism a “charity case” and thus undermine people’s willingness to pay for it in the long term?

Related links

Sameer’s paper for Ariadne Network “An Introduction to Funding Journalism and Media

The paper by Rasmus Kleis Nielsen and Richard Fletcher questioning the truth of online filter bubbles: “Are People Incidentally Exposed to News on Social Media? A Comparative Study

My Alliance magazine article (co-authored with my significantly better half, Fran Yeoman) on why “Philanthropy should fund the media for its own sake

The Cairncross Review

About the Giving Thought podcast

The Giving Thought podcast is an exploration of trends in global philanthropy and civil society.  Since launching in May 2017, the podcast has become recognised as an insightful and influential source of philanthropic debate. 

In each episode Rhodri Davies, Director of our Giving Thought Think Tank, and guests, take a contemporary issue in philanthropy and civil society and break it down into three manageable chunks, giving an overview of the extensive work they have done on the subject.  Episodes are also available free on iTunes and Libsyn.

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Rhodri Davies

Rhodri Davies

Head of Policy

Rhodri leads Giving Thought, our in-house think tank focusing on current and future issues affecting philanthropy and civil society. Rhodri has spent nearly a decade specialising in public policy around philanthropy and the work of charities, and has researched, written and presented on a wide range of topics. He has a first-class degree in Mathematics and Philosophy from the University of Oxford.   Read more about Rhodri




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