Donormedia and Crowdmedia: Philanthropy in Europe is slowly redefining its relationship towards media funding


Michael Alberg-Seberich


Michael Alberg-Seberich

During last week’s Creative Media Days in Ghent and Brussels people did not only talk about the potential of new apps or the future of computing. One sub-conference on ‘Creative Funding for Creative Media’ brought together foundations interested in the funding of quality/investigative journalism, innovative media start-ups and a variety of crowdfunding platforms and experts. The Future Media Lab, a think tank initiative hosted by the European Magazine Media Association (EMMA), organized the conference.

The two-day conference consisted of panel discussions, keynote speakers and workshop sessions that enabled participants to actively engage with one another and share experiences with crowdfunding, donor supported journalism and discuss the future of media, journalism funding. The speakers included Michael Manness of the Knight Foundation (USA); Paul Lewis, a journalist from the Guardian (UK); Danae Ringelmann, the co-founder of the crowdfunding platform; and many others.

In the US it may not be new news anymore but for Europe the event was a first of its kind. The discussions documented that certain areas of media, such as investigative journalism, are actively looking for new ways to fund their work. It is interesting to see that mainly foundations with a European or global outlook are closely looking at supporting grants in this field. It will be interesting to see whether new intermediaries like will be able to attract the attention of foundations and donors. In Ghent the belief was strong that this kind of funding is necessary to allow the media to fulfil its role as the fourth pillar of democracy.

Representatives of donor-driven media outlets started a dialogue during the conference with the experts, such as organizations that try to fund creative media like music, film or investigative journalism through the power of the people, the power of crowds. It will be interesting to see whether crowdfunding can develop into another reliable funding stream for journalist. Examples like MATTER, a UK- and USA-based journalism platform dedicated to long-form reporting on the future, are signs of hope for such a new way of funding in-depth reporting.

It looks like the strategic potential and the societal importance of media funding are finally seen in Europe. It will now be important to look at the legal frameworks for funding such new and rather old – investigative – forms of media. It will be interesting to see how donors and journalists can contribute to serving an audience but also to inform communities. Journalism and media will change. Philanthropy in all its forms will play a role in redefining how we will be entertained and informed in the future. What an opportunity!

Michael Alberg-Seberich is managing partner at Active Philanthropy

Tagged in: Crowdfunding journalism Media

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