Philanthropic donors big and small tend to invest with their eye on values rather than products: democracy, an informed society, better public health, the thriving of art, improved education, and so on – the idea of public value. Private individuals or foundations step up to provide the public with a good they deem necessary on principle, but which is too low in supply or missing entirely.
Most journalists chose their profession because they wanted to make an impact on society, but the news business, as it were, conspired against their good intentions. Yet with constructive approaches, a renewed focus on communities and audiences, and foundation support, journalism could break free from legacy structures.
It is an illusion to think that charity can bring systematic and lasting change to society without extending support to media. Considering the benefits to be gained by all involved – charities, journalism, and society – the key obstacles, as identified at Journalism Funders Forum London, are not insurmountable.