Tragedy of Journalism Foundation closure

The Journalism Foundation, which “promotes, develops and sustains free and independent journalism”, is in the process of shutting down less than a year after its launch.

The foundation had garnered initial support of about £600,000 from the family of Evgeny Lebedev, owner of The Independent and the London Evening Standard newspaper titles.

But it  proved very difficult to raise external funds and rather than continue with the charity, the Lebedev family have decided to donate their money directly to good causes through the existing Lebedev Foundation.

In its short life, the foundation supported a number of small projects, including a grassroots website seeking to increase engagement in local politics in Stoke-on-Trent. It also promoted radio training and a project to increase community journalism in Brixton and rural Tanzania.

The closure of the foundation is a blow, particularly to the hyperlocal sector in the UK.  Through its support for Brixton blog and Pits n Pots in Stoke, the foundation had shown a willingess to invest in and support hyperlocal blogs and alternative media.

Tim Dickens of the Brixton Blog gives some of the reasons why his blog is so impoirtant. He told the foundation website:

“The South London Press has been cutting editorial jobs for a while now, with only one reporter covering two boroughs. What we have done is revived the idea of a newspaper, both in print and online, which is at the heart of the community which it serves.”

The Journalism Foundation aimed to support the Brixton Blog and Bugle in its ambition to become a sustainable business.

Its demise reflects the financial problems of mainstream media. What a shame it never really got the chance to fulfill its xonsiderable potential.

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