Funding journalism using participatory grantmaking: a guide

Think tank: Institute of Welsh Affairs

Author(s): Dr Debs Grayson

October 2, 2023

This report from UK think tank the Institute of Welsh Affairs outlines how learning and best practice from participatory grantmaking could be adapted for journalism funding.

In the UK and around the world we face multiple, intersecting crises – crises in our democratic institutions, crises of social inequality, and crises in our environment. We urgently need a media system that can facilitate democratic participation and collaboration and support collective solutions to major challenges such as pandemics and the climate catastrophe. One key part of this media system is trustworthy, relevant and reliable news and information, which has a vital role to play in democratic life.

This period of wider instability has also coincided with a period of major change in how journalism is practised and funded, particularly structural changes in advertising markets that have made it an ever less sustainable funding model for journalism. It is widely accepted that new sources of funding are now required to support journalism, whether coming from the state, philanthropy or ‘Big Tech’ companies.

Less explored is the question of how this money should be distributed. We believe that for media to truly support democratic life, the ways it is funded should also be subject to democratic control and accountability.

This guide outlines how learning and best practice from participatory grantmaking, which is widely used within philanthropy, could be adapted for journalism funding to meet this aim.