Cross border European media fund launches to ‘serve the common good’ 

 

Shafi Musaddique

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A groundbreaking new cross border European media fund has been launched in Germany, Austria and Switzerland in a bid to create a sustainable journalism industry and ‘serve the common good’.

The Media Forward Fund, which started its first funding round, is the first of its kind in the three countries.  

‘The aim is to promote media that serve the common good and that sustainably strengthen the media landscape and its role in society,’ the fund said in a statement.    

Founded as a non-profit fund, it has the backing of eight foundations and one impact investor, endowed with 6 million euros so far. Germany’s federal government supported the project. 

In a statement, the Media Forward Fund said it plans three funding rounds this year. Either 200,000 euros for project funding or 400,000 euros for organisational funding, for two years. 

Funding criteria will depend on the diversity, independence and quality of independent media.   

‘In order for journalism to be financed sustainably, we need media makers who have the courage to experiment with new business models – and also donors who provide the capital required for this,’ says Martin Kotynek, founding director of the Media Forward Fund.  

‘The fund provides media makers with these grants from foundations, impact investors and private individuals – with the aim of overcoming this acute transformation crisis in the media together.’   

The initiative is a breakthrough moment that follows in the footsteps of the Press Forward project in the US, where half a billion dollars will be distributed to boost local media.

First opened in September last year, Press Forward aims to strengthen communities by reversing the dramatic decline in local journalism and news reporting that has coincided with an increasingly divided America and weakening trust in institutions.   

The MacArthur and Knight Foundations have spearheaded what they hope will become a $1 billion-dollar pooled fund to revive and rebuild public interest media in the US.

According to the MacArthur Foundation, approximately 2,200 local newspapers have closed since 2005, resulting in 20 per cent of Americans living in so-called ‘news deserts’, with little to no reliable coverage of important local events. 

‘To preserve our democracies, European funders need to step up their ambition – and quickly,’ says Alliance executive editor Charles Keidan in our regular Critical Friend column.

Among the standout European media funders has been the Schöpflin Foundation, which has funded the establishment of the Publix building in Berlin. Opening in July 2024, it says it will provide ‘a new home for all those who engage in journalism, shape the public sphere and strengthen democracy.’

The full list of funders are: Schöpflin Foundation, Stiftung Mercator Schweiz, Volkart Foundation, Rudolf Augstein Foundation, ZEIT STIFTUNG BUCERIUS, Stiftung für Medienvielfalt, ERSTE Foundation, DATUM-STIFTUNG für Journalismus und Demokratie as well as the impact investor Karma Capital and Publix – Haus für Journalismus & Öffentlichkeit.  

Shafi Musaddique is the news editor at Alliance Magazine


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