International Fund for Public Interest Media announces 2023 grantee cohort

The International Fund for Public Interest Media has announced its new cohort of 17 grants across nine low-and middle-income countries in Asia and the Pacific, Africa and the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean. Together with its inaugural grantee cohort announced in 2023, the International Fund has now committed more than $8 million USD in grants and direct portfolio support in its focus regions.

The new cohort represents a diverse and inspiring range of public interest media outlets and systems change initiatives contributing in different ways towards shaping a new era of sustainable and innovative journalism. All grantees align with the International Fund’s strategic framework for its First Phase of Operations (mid–2023-mid–2025).

Sustaining outlets that are both working in the public interest and in danger of extinction or capture
Confidencial (Nicaragua) has operated in exile from Costa Rica since June 2021. Confidencial covers public interest issues such as migration, politics, and economics with a human rights approach and a focus on the most vulnerable population. With the International Fund’s support, Confidencial aims to counter the threat of independent media extinction in Nicaragua by serving as a successful example of exiled media in Costa Rica as well as expanding its distribution.

Information Centers Network (ICN, Georgia) consists of two platforms: Mtis Ambebi and Sakartvelos Ambebi, both focused on reaching underserved communities in Georgia with a particular emphasis on the mountainous regions. It plays a unique role in the media landscape, combining investigative journalism with solutions-focused coverage of overlooked subjects and regions, which often then gain traction at a national level. The grant from the International Fund will enable the ICN to continue its impactful work in remote regions, serving underprivileged audiences with limited access to public interest information, and inspiring civic engagement.

Netgazeti & Batumelebi (Georgia) evolved from a regional newspaper in 2001 into one of the leading independent media outlets in Georgia. Today the outlet is recognized for its steadfast commitment to professionalism and editorial independence. With regional (Batumelebi), national (Netgazeti), and Russian-language (Ru.netgazeti) platforms, they are able to reach large and often underserved audiences through their broad content offerings. Support from the International Fund will enable them to sustain their pivotal role in the ecosystem ensuring the continued delivery of critical and balanced reporting for a large, diverse audience.

Supporting independent media outlets experimenting with promising innovations for greater economic resilience
Amplify South Africa (South Africa) is a continuation of the South Africa Media Innovation Programme (SAMIP), a media business capacity-building program managed by the Media Development Investment Fund. Over the past six years, SAMIP has successfully supported 27 media outlets in the country with a mix of advisory services, training, and financial support. The International Fund’s grant will allow Amplify South Africa to continue its important work, supporting a new cohort of independent media outlets with funding, coaching, workshops, and training with the aim of developing the tools and skills needed to experiment with different revenue and audience generation opportunities.

Cuestión Pública (Colombia), a young and digitally native independent news organization, is well known for its innovative investigative data journalism covering issues related to corruption. The grant from the International Fund will help Cuestión Pública strengthen its content creation model, develop new types of innovative and inclusive content, and establish itself as a benchmark for investigative journalism in the country. The organization is also looking to experiment with AI solutions to optimize its social media strategy and to improve internal protocols with respect to journalist well-being.

El Surti (Paraguay) stands out for its effective use of memes and illustrations in its reporting. The organization focuses on critical public interest issues, including climate change, disinformation issues, and gender-related concerns, always through the lens of holding power to account. With the support of the International Fund, the outlet is looking to further refine and expand its innovative approach to impact journalism. This involves testing and implementing new content formats, ultimately aiming to inspire civic action through strong investigative journalism and compelling storytelling.

Established in 1995, JoyNews (Ghana) started as the first licensed private radio station in the country. It has evolved into one of the largest and most staunchly independent media channels in the country, renowned for exposing corruption within public institutions. The International Fund grant will support the station’s work to continue pursuing its mission in an increasingly difficult operating environment. This funding will specifically enable the organization to invest in essential digital infrastructure, including technological upgrades and staff capacity building. The ultimate objective is to optimize its digital assets for the efficient dissemination of content.

Founded in 1912, La Gaceta (Argentina) is an independent newsroom in the province of Tucumán, located in the Northwest of Argentina. La Gaceta is the fourth best-selling print newspaper and one of the most visited online media in the country. It is a prestigious institution known for its quality journalism covering economic, political, cultural, and local issues. The organization will use the grant from the International Fund to attract and retain a younger audience and innovate through the creation of new digital products. It will also engage in an internal transformation process aimed at nurturing innovation and inclusivity in the workplace.

La Voz de Guanacaste (LVG, Costa Rica) is a nonprofit bilingual (Spanish and English) digital media outlet focused on providing the local Guanacaste community with high-quality, hyper-regional investigative journalism. LVG is a leader in Costa Rica’s growing digital media landscape as well as a pioneer in collaborative journalism. The International Fund will support LVG to invest in AI innovation, produce more high-quality journalism that showcases a variety of traditionally underrepresented voices, and strengthen its connection with younger audiences.

Cohort of Mongolian media outlets
The International Fund is collaborating with Nest, a Mongolian media support NGO, and FT Strategies, the consulting arm of the Financial Times, to provide grant funding and strategic advisory support to a cohort of Mongolian publishers. As part of the cohort, each publication has developed a strategic plan to be implemented over the next three years, with grant support from the International Fund. The selected cohort includes: (Mongolia) is a non-profit online news platform dedicated to providing fact-based news, articles, and political analyses that speak to the public interest. iToim’s late founder was a well respected columnist. His legacy guides iToim’s current editorial mission, recently celebrating nine years of success. Moreover, iToim serves as a valuable training ground for aspiring journalists. The organization has identified gaps in its hardware and other key capabilities that have proved to be barriers to retaining staff and strengthening multimedia content production. With the support of the International Fund, iToim aims to bolster its efforts to address these challenges and ultimately elevate the quality and scope of its work.

Lemon Press Digital (Mongolia) is an independent, forward-thinking, and ambitious publication with a clear vision to expand its reach and build a reader revenue model, which would make it the first digital publisher to do so in Mongolia. The grant from the International Fund will support Lemon Press to grow its audience reach and engagement through developing a new portfolio of editorial products targeted at learning outcomes for younger audiences, increase its editorial focus on accountability and anti-corruption reporting, and develop an organization-wide program to enhance wellbeing and professional growth within Lemon Press’ young and growing team. Another key goal of Lemon Press within this program is to build on its existing creative format to explain complex economic and financial information to investigate budget misappropriation, and to promote civic engagement and monitoring.

NTV (Mongolia) is a leading TV organization in Mongolia that has been operating for over 17 years. Its public interest reporting has had a major impact on society by exposing politicians who use public funds for personal use and uncovering poor health and safety conditions in public spaces and schools. The grant will enable the organization to address critical gaps in data and digital capabilities, provide professional development opportunities for staff, and establish new processes and products aimed at expanding revenue streams and reaching a wider audience. (Mongolia) is a unique independent digital news platform specifically tailored for younger audiences, with a dedicated and loyal following. The organization’s core content areas include domestic and international news, opinion pieces, culture, and lifestyle. It also publishes Gereg, a Mongolian-language quarterly print magazine in collaboration with the New York Times. With the International Fund’s support, the outlet will further diversify its content offering and explore opportunities to strengthen its financial resilience.

Zuunii Medee (Mongolia) is the country’s second-oldest legacy print newspaper, has operated for more than 30 years as an independent daily newspaper with a motto: “Journalism in defense of the public”. The publication is highly influential, often found in the offices of government agencies, and helps set the daily news agenda for television and online media. The International Fund aims to support Zuunii Medee’s digital transformation over the next three years.

Fostering initiatives that seek to address structural market challenges and shape change at the national and global levels
Association of Independent Publishers (AIP, South Africa) is a membership-based organization in South Africa that represents grassroots independent publishers (print and digital). AIP’s membership comprises hundreds of small, locally owned media outlets from across the country, including newspapers, magazines, newsletters, and online publications that publish primarily in townships, rural areas, and small towns in all 11 official languages of South Africa. The International Fund grant will support AIP’s work to improve the long-term sustainability of its members.

Journalism Fund (Brazil). Instituto Incube, with support from Associação de Jornalismo Digital (Ajor), a digital media association dedicated to promoting a free, diverse, and pluralistic press, will begin the process of designing and establishing a Journalism Fund to support public interest media organizations in Brazil, in partnership with a cohort of philanthropic organizations, as well as practitioners in the media field. The focus will be on supporting those media that have had fewer opportunities to access funding and are underrepresented in the media landscape. This grant will allow the partnership to build the initial structure of the Fund and launch its pilot round of grants to independent media organizations.

Journalism and Tech Task Force (Brazil) aims to become a recognized knowledge hub and thought leader on the challenges facing the media sector, particularly as they relate to tech platforms. With the International Fund’s support, the Task Force will commission research on the relationship between tech platforms and media actors and disseminate findings broadly throughout the media ecosystem; support communication efforts to raise awareness and develop partnerships on the issue; and explore the creation of an ‘urgent response fund’ meant to enable support from civil society for public interest media. The Task Force will be led by the recognized journalist Paula Miraglia, and will be fiscally sponsored by IRIS, a donor-collaborative platform.

DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.