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UK Investigative Journalism Fund Receives $3.3 Million Grant

By David Silverberg     Jul 18, 2009 in Business
The recently launched Investigation Funds, a UK initiative to fund public interest journalism, won a $3.3 million grant and backing from Google. The bureau will experiment with techniques ranging "from crowdfunding to crowdsourcing."
When the media markets hit the tank, where can journalists look for money? Philanthropic saviours may be a new source, demonstrated recently in the UK. The Investigations Fund, launched by a dozen reporters to find funding for independent journalism, announced it was awarded a £2 million ($3.3 million) grant from the Potter Foundation for its program.
Stephen Grey, one of the co-founders of the Investigations Fund, said in a statement: We’ve had an incredible response and some great suggestions on how to move forward, and this extra-ordinary generosity is a sensational start. I think the plan we’ve backed is the best way of taking on board all the best suggestions we’ve received. I believe it can have a transforming and positive effect on reporting in this country, and go a long way to encouraging and supporting new talent.
So what's the mission of this Fund? According to its marketing material, it wants to help fund "the kind of risky, challenging reporting for which there is a crying demand – and as an experiment to seek out new ways to support this vital work."
The press release also mentioned that the bureau would take advantage of social media techniques, such as crowdfunding. This method asks the public to donate money to help get a story funded, made popular by Bay Area website Spot.us. The Investigations Fund might also pursue crowdsourcing methods, a common synonym for citizen journalism.
The Potter Foundation is not the only organization to see the value of the Fund. Google is assisting the initiative, with mostly "technical expertise software tools and training." Google’s UK communications director Peter Barron is involved in a "private capacity."
As if those backers weren't enough, the Fund also earned the kudos of New Yorker journalist Seymour Hersh. He said, "I applaud and support the new Bureau of Investigative Journalism – and similar projects in America and throughout the world — for these new and independent investigative units may become the role model for a new kind of journalism.”
This philanthropy-driven form of funding journalism is one of the latest ideas to come out of battered world media. It's uncertain which projects and articles will be funded by the Investigations Fund, or if non-UK residents can apply for funding.
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