Today more than ever, independent journalism plays a fundamental role in creating and maintaining healthy, democratic societies. So much information is now available, and so much of it is—intentionally or not—untruthful, that journalism has to strengthen its role as the professional verifier, explainer, and contextualizer. With deception ubiquitous in the digital era, journalism must be free to bark at power when it is abusive or corrupt, and to uncover activities that have been hidden or distorted by governments or corporations.
For journalism to be influential in the digital era, its information gathering, production, and distribution processes must be transparent. Openness earns trust and engagement, and allows journalists to moderate conversations—inside or outside a given medium—feeding those conversations with quality news and stories delivered in an appealing way on multiple platforms, anytime, anywhere. When journalism plays this new role in society, its impact can be phenomenal. Where diverse, independent media can engage the public and thrive, the quality of public debate is better, and the more open a society is likely to become.
The Open Society Program on Independent Journalism aims to support journalistic endeavors where those endeavors are among the few sources of independent, ethical information and are committed to fulfilling the role described above.
Concretely, the program supports promising initiatives led by individuals or collectives that strive to improve their journalism under difficult circumstances, such as autocracy, violence, repression, or poverty, or in moments of great opportunity, such as first democratic elections, peace agreements, or massive social mobilizations. The program also supports those enterprises that seek to further engage their audiences, experiment with storytelling, develop new sources of revenue, or network with peers across borders or invisible frontiers set up by extremist groups or organized crime. We prioritize initiatives that offer transferable and replicable models in the field.
We have four portfolios of work, two of which support journalism initiatives directly—“opening journalism” and “investigative journalism”—and two of which support the protection and safety of journalism, and seek to share knowledge and good practices in the field.