Media Release: Wednesday 10 April 2013
A New Foundation For Public Interest Journalism In New Zealand
In a push to offer new support and momentum for public interest journalism, the country’s leading independent news provider, Scoop Media, is lending its weight to two initiatives being announced for the first time today.
The first initiative, the Scoop Foundation Project, brings Scoop.co.nz together with a group of New Zealand's leading practitioners of public interest journalism to create a charitable trust to fund investigative journalistic work.
This coincides with today’s launch by Scoop of a $5000 Pacific Scoop internship being awarded in conjunction with AUT University’s Pacific Media Centre (PMC). The first recipient will be named at the School of Communication Studies Awards event being held at the newly opened Sir Paul Reeves Building at AUT between 6-8 pm this evening.
Funded from syndication revenue, the internship will enable a School of Communication Studies postgraduate student journalist to research, report and edit content for the jointly run Pacific Scoop project which is now entering its fifth year of publishing at http://pacific.scoop.co.nz/
Scoop Media’s General Manager Alastair Thompson, who along with veteran journalist Alison McCulloch is co-spokesperson for the Scoop Foundation Project, says he is delighted the project is being announced in conjunction with the internship which serves as a concrete example of the sort of work the foundation hopes to support.
Thompson says the idea of a Scoop Foundation for Public Interest Journalism has been percolating for some considerable time. He says the project is a natural extension to the role Scoop has played in the New Zealand media scene since it first arrived in June 1999.
“A new foundation for public interest journalism is a natural fit for Scoop, and there certainly appears to be a call for one,” says Thompson. “Supporting a community of journalists in pursuit of public interest reporting has always been at the core of what Scoop is all about.
“In recent months the need for a charitable organisation to support news gathering with a larger brief has become very obvious. The hollowing out of experience in newsrooms is only gaining pace.
“Recently the gap in the New Zealand media scene for funding of public interest journalism has been highlighted by commentators such as NZ Herald columnist Chris Barton and the Science Media Centre’s Peter Griffin, recently returned from a Fulbright-Harkness journalism fellowship in the USA.
Over the next two months the Scoop Foundation Project hopes to broaden its base of support in preparation for applying for charitable status and commencing fund-raising activities.
“We have a strong agreement among the core team that the institution we create should be shaped by journalists, and work for journalists with a firm eye on the changing conditions under which journalism is being practised, and in the interests of creating a broader, stronger base for sustainable public interest journalism”, says Alison McCulloch.
“Today’s announcement is about seeking as wide a response as possible from people who might want to be involved in this initiative," says McCulloch.
"We will be welcoming all expressions of interest and all offers of assistance to ensure that the purpose, vision and focus that is set for the foundation is meaningful and progressive”. [A draft outline is available at http://scoopfoundation.org ]
The Scoop Foundation Project has established a steering committee which will guide the process over the next few months. The current members of this are McCulloch, Thompson, Scoop's Margaret Thompson, Gordon Campbell and Stephen Olsen. In the process of preparing to publicly announce the project they have been joined by the Science Media Centre's Peter Griffin, and Christchurch based writer and author Amanda Cropp.
A wider group of journalists is involved behind the scenes as a sounding board including David Robie of the Pacific Media Centre, BusinessDesk's Pattrick Smellie and Jonathan Underhill , former Listener editor and broadcaster Finlay Macdonald, former Scoop Editor Selwyn Manning, journalist Jeremy Rose, and Russell Brown of Public Address.
Thompson noted that it was appropriate that commencement of the Scoop Foundation Project was being announced at AUT given the university’s role in hosting the international Media, Investigative Journalism and Technology conference in 2010.