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This is a summary of our Splice Low-Res event about emergency funding for covid-affected newsrooms. What money is out there? And how do you ask for it? This is meant for newsrooms and journalists looking for financial support this year.
We spoke with Prue Clarke of the Judith Neilson Institute, Rasmus Kleis Nielsen of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, Lars Bestle of International Media Support, Alex Fenby of Facebook, and Shuwei Fang of Open Society Foundations.
Open Society Foundation’s (OSF) mission is to celebrate vibrant, tolerant societies that are accountable to their citizens. Shuwei Fang, a program officer at OSF’s Program on Independent Journalism, explains that they’ve reorganized funds to make them available during the crisis. During Covid, OSF has made $130 million available in central reserves from existing budgets, redistributing grants that can no longer happen due to the pandemic.
Fang explains they’re disbursing the funds across two phases:
The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ) is a research center and think tank for journalism. Director Rasmus Klein Nielsen is prescriptive about the journalism industry, which he believes has been suffering for a very long time — he warns of a coming extinction event. “There won’t be a long-term if there isn’t a short term,” he added, describing a double-digit billion dollar decline in 2020.
Nielsen adds that strong journalism is important for the backbone of society. “Informed people make better decisions on the basis of their values, their aspirations, their goals,” he said.
In response to Covid, RISJ launched the Independent News Emergency Relief Coordination (INERC).
International Media Support (IMS) supports local media in countries affected by armed conflict, human insecurity, and political transition. According to Lars Bestle, the Asia Head of Department, public interest journalism in Asia is limited. Many places are more interested in serving the interests of the “power-holders, the military, the government, the politicians.”
Yet, IMS found a forest of media startups underneath who still cared about the public interest mission — and they needed tools for resilience and survival. Spurred by Covid, IMS wants to create a publicly available database of media startups. The database can be used by:
“News media plays an incredibly important role [at Facebook] in terms of what connects and what matters,” explained Alex Fenby, who leads news partnerships at Facebook. Fenby’s team has three roles: it works with news partners on strengthening the performance of their businesses on Facebook, launching strategic product initiatives like videos, instant articles, and in-stream advertisements, and helps with integrity and fact-checking.
Recent news partnership initiatives in Asia include Schwartz Media in Melbourne, which saw the clickthrough rate to its subscription site jump by 500% after Facebook reviewed the positioning and design of the various call to actions. Another revenue modeling workshop helped Schwartz Media’s membership sign ups surge 250%.
During Covid, Facebook has:
The Judith Neilson Institute (JNI) champions quality journalism and storytelling in Australia and around the world through grants, education programs and events. Much of that is focused on building steady, reliable business models. “I’ve been very critical of media development agencies in the aid world for not understanding how important the business model is,” Prue Clarke, JNI’s Senior Executive Officer, said.
Clarke fills us in on the Australian media landscape — which she says is so often in a silo, separate from Asia.
Our mission is to drive radical change by supporting bold, forward-looking media startups in Asia. In order to do this, we report on, teach, transform, and fund newsrooms in Asia.
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We’re Alan Soon and Rishad Patel, and there’s more about us here.
The Splice Beta Fund is a prototyping grant that helps news and media entrepreneurs in Asia to quickly ideate, launch, test, and iterate products and services for audiences and customers. See our six grantees here!
Splice Lights On is our way of supporting the media community. We are working with Facebook to distribute $5,000 micro-grants in support of small- to mid-sized news orgs and their freelancers in Asia financially affected by Covid-19. See the grantees here.
Splice Low-Res is our virtual community check-in for media startups. Register, watch, sponsor, or stay in the loop here.
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Our prototyping grant for media entrepreneurs in Asia to test news products for audiences
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