Announcing a new fund to support independent, public interest journalism in Europe

Published: 11 December 2019

At a critical moment in Europe, when hard-won democracy is under pressure, Civitates aims to bolster public interest journalism organisations across Europe.

Brussels, December 11, 2019 – We are excited to announce that Civitates, a philanthropic initiative for democracy and solidarity in Europe, will support independent, public interest journalism in Europe.

The goal is to establish a strong cohort of independent, public interest journalism organisations which defend democracy in Europe by exposing abuses of power and drivers of polarisation, and defending a space in which all voices are heard.

The fund will provide multi-year commitments for general operating support and the institutional strengthening of its grantee partners to build more durable, more resilient, more networked, and more impactful public interest journalism organisations in Europe.

The first Request for Proposals is expected to be published in the spring of 2020.

Journalism plays a vital role in a democratic society. It provides a platform for dialogue and debate, helping individuals to form their opinions and participate as informed citizens in democratic processes. It also monitors governmental and corporate (in)actions, holding those in power to account.

However, independent, in-depth journalism in Europe finds itself increasingly under pressure. Media freedom is in decline, trust in media low, and business models are in distress.

Despite all challenges, exciting new types of journalism organisations are popping up all over Europe. These organisations are in a vulnerable position, though, especially when operating in politically hostile environments.

Civitates is convinced that philanthropy has a valuable role to play here: to ensure not just the survival – but the growth – of independent, public interest journalism.

Leonie van Tongeren, Fund Manager of Civitates, says: “It’s great to see that foundations want to collaborate more in this field and bring together funds to support independent media. Our hope is that we can help bring substantial funding into the sector, while in the meantime providing structural, core support for the exciting but stretched organisations that exist in this space.

Merel Borger, Program Manager at Adessium Foundation (a co-founder of Civitates), has been a driving force behind the new fund. She says, “Foundations are increasingly aware that independent, public interest journalism, in Europe too, is in need of their support. Adessium Foundation has been funding independent public-interest journalism for over a decade now, and we’re glad that more and more funders are joining us in this space.