JFF #012: Data, home-learning, & newsletters on news

[Cross-posted from the Journalism Funders Forum website, where you can sign up for this newsletter. Twitter version here.]

[This time, we are lighter on European stories, and heavier on international English-language news, because that’s where a lot of discussion has centred in the last couple of weeks. We’re making every effort to surface initiatives from a European perspective – and we are mindful, as this exemplary editorial in the journal Digital Journalism demonstrates, that it takes a lot of work to do diversity properly. And your input and feedback is crucial!]

What’s new in journalism this week?

World Press Freedom Day was marked last week by a series of online events highlighting the extraordinary work journalists and news organisations continue to do in the face of the pandemic, amid the continued and intensified challenges to press freedom.

Facebook announced further emergency funds for newsrooms in AsiaLatin America and MENA – worth sharing with grantees and networks. (It has also announced the first 20 members of its new independent Oversight Board, a who’s who of international digital rights, legal, technology and journalism experts – there’s much debate over whether it is a fig-leaf or a body with teeth. Here’s the expert view of Yale Law School’s Chinmayi Arun.)

German donors have been at the forefront of advocating for journalism to be recognised officially as being of public benefit or gemeinnützig. This paper arguing the same for the UK was one of many expert submissions last week to the UK’s House of Lords inquiry into the Future of Journalism. [Adding link to the Public Benefit Journalism Research Centre.]

And, as many JFF community members will know, and may have been part of the year-long consultations for, the feasibility study for the International Fund for Public Interest Media, or IFPIM, is out, and presents a compelling overview of the challenges facing public interest journalism worldwide. If you haven’t read it yet, the study is absolutely worth your time.

Sharing is caring

Our recent webinars have looked at a range of media philanthropy responses to the coronavirus. First, JFF and the US-based Media Impact Funders co-hosted a discussion (summary here) exploring what philanthropic and media support organisations are doing to sustain critical public interest information needs around the world in response to COVID-19. Our second was a funder-only webinar looking at the two major emergency funds supporting journalism and news media through COVID-19 – Google’s Journalism Emergency Relief Fund and Facebook’s European Journalism COVID-19 Support Fund (we’ll release a summary of this soon).

These webinars and previous editions of this newsletter have shown that it’s a vital time to gather data on media and on funding initiatives. Here are also 5 data initiatives that you can either contribute to, make use of or share more widely. Please let us know of others – local, national, regional, international, data standards or guides – you think the JFF community should know about.

1. The newly-announced Independent News Emergency Relief Coordination (INERC) brings together an interdisciplinary group of funders, researchers, experts, journalists and advocates who will use data on independent news media across the world to identify areas of greatest need, to better target emergency relief resources. (It also aims to feed into the longer-term IFPIM initiative mentioned above.) To contribute data, to collaborate or to register interest in receiving support, email INERC.

2. Asia’s Splice Newsroom’s Lights On Survey asked small media organisations around the world how COVID-19 is impacting their viability and existence. Although the sample size was small, the message was unanimous – without support, expect mass layoffs in small and independent media. (On Wednesday 13 May, Splice’s online workshop Low Res is focused on funding for journalism, and features Prue Clarke from recently-endowed Australian funder The Judith Neilson Institute. Register here.)

3. John Crowley has released stark preliminary findings on a survey for journalists around the world on the stresses they are under at the moment – please do share the Impact of Covid-19 on journalism Survey with journalists among your grantees and in your networks.

4. The Engine Room and Open Society Foundations have been conducting a study into building an equitable tech + human rights ecosystem – and while this isn’t looking at media and journalism funding directly, lots of what they’re asking about power asymmetries does map across. Worth keeping an eye on.

5. And this pilot project map of a local news ecosystem (New Jersey/US) is just exceptional – imagine this rolled out across the world… Kudos to Sarah Stonbely and the rest of the News Ecosystems team at Montclair State University.

Home learning (!) beyond coronavirus

Many of you will know Evgeny Morozov as a prominent and pugnacious writer on technology, but his latest project – The Syllabus – is a more direct intervention in finding, curating and sharing knowledge, billed as “the Best New Academic Articles, Essays, Talks, Podcasts, Books, and More”. Read this fly-on-the-wall piece on its birth (with some healthy pushback in the comments).  

The Google News Initiative, the LSE’s JournalismAI Initiative and VRT have released an online introduction to machine learning for journalists (but good for those working with journalists too.)

To help others trying to adapt or redesign their strategies for the post-Covid world, the Future Today Institute (known for founder Amy Webb’s annual Tech Trends report), has released an early version of its Trends Search tool, looking across hundreds of trends and forces impacting the future of many industries, including philanthropyjournalism and news media. If you know of other approaches from elsewhere around the world, let us know.

And lastly, if you want to refresh your memory on some of the major media theorists of the 20th century, Al Jazeera’s series of short videos, Media Theorised, is a good place to start. Do let us know of other accessible guides you find useful.

Other newsletters on news

Joseph Lichterman of the Lenfest Institute keeps an “incomplete list of newsletters about journalism” (fairly international, but all English-language) – here are three not on his list that you might also enjoy, and please let us know of ones in other languages that we should all know about:

1. As Oxford’s Reuters Institute becomes increasingly influential in international conversations and initiatives about the future of journalism, its newsletter is worth your time.

2. Academics Mark Coddington and Seth Lewis  produce RQ1, a monthly digest of new research on journalism and media RQ1 (thanks to @EricKarstens for the tip).

3. And pour les francophones, voici SMILe, une “sélection de projets inspirants menés par des médias locaux en France et dans le monde”.

Until next time, stay safe. 

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