A more objective balance for news is being sought
A new charity will fund public interest journalism across the UK.
The Public Interest News Foundation will seek donations from Facebook and Google and the like and help keep smaller, citizen-journalist publications afloat.
Jonathon Heywoord, its founder said: “The objective is to support the new breed of small independent news organisations.
“They don’t have to be local, it just has to be public interest news. It can be international investigations, or news about the roadworks down your street. Just as long as they’re doing it accurately and ethically.”
Heawood said the existing business model for providing public interest news, often through financially struggling for-profit local newspapers, was failing. “A lot of these small players are clinging on by their fingerprints. There’s not much argument for sustaining something that isn’t working but there is an argument for investing in something new.”
The Public Interest News Foundation’s charitable status was awarded on the basis its work will boost public education, citizenship and civic responsibility. It also means donors can receive significant tax breaks on any money they donate. But there is one key caveat: due to British charity law, outlets which receive the money will have to avoid anything that could be perceived as political campaigning.
Last year a government-commissioned report on the future of local media proposed a state-backed organisation supporting public service, a recommendation dismissed by ministers on the basis that it would damage press freedom.
However, the financial crisis in local news – with regional newspaper group JPI Media still struggling to find a buyer, 15 years after it was purchasing newspapers for hundreds of millions of pounds – has revived interest in the charitable model.