Forum on Information and Democracy and Reporters without Borders (RSF) sign MoU with International Fund for Public Interest Media to collaborate more closely

Tallinn, Estonia – Two of the most ambitious international initiatives set up to confront potential “media extinction” and support the Right to Information round the world have today signed a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate more closely.

The International Fund for Public Interest Media (the Fund) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the Forum on Information and Democracy (the Forum), have agreed “to develop as close a working relationship and synergies as possible between the three organisations.”.

The three organisations signed the Memorandum of Understanding at the Global Conference for Media Freedom in Tallinn, Estonia (9-10 February) where they were discussing the worsening threats to the freedom and viability of independent media worldwide. The enhanced relationship builds on existing collaborations between the three and involves sharing advocacy platforms and tools.

Christophe Deloire, RSF Secretary-General, said: “The change of paradigm of the information ecosystem is so crucial that we need to renew global thinking, ambitions and strategies in an innovative and inclusive way. It’s critical that organisations like ours collaborate at a time when independent journalism is in danger. It’s our urgent duty to create the conditions of a positive future for the right to information.” 

Camille Grenier, Operations Manager for the Forum on Information and Democracy, said: “In its report A New Deal for Journalism, the Forum has called on governments to commit up to 1 per cent of their overseas development assistance (ODA) to independent media - IFPIM is a concrete mechanism to contribute to this objective.” 

James Deane, co-founder and acting Head of the International Fund for Public Interest Media said: “Collaboration is key. The business model for independent media worldwide is broken - unless the international community comes together to help media to evolve and find new ways to make quality news pay, we will see an extinction event, weakening democratic societies everywhere.”

The new collaboration includes:

- Working together more closely on global advocacy initiatives including the Forum’s New Deal for Journalism, a strategy for how independent journalism should be supported around the world. It includes the Fund as a solution to increasing the levels of global development aid for media.  

- The Fund using the Journalism Trust Initiative (JTI) developed by RSF and partners as a key due diligence mechanism to inform and guide its decisions as to which media organisations it will support in low and middle-income countries.

- The Fund formally agreeing to use RSF’s Press Freedom Index to guide its work, the location of its regional headquarters and the make-up of its Advisory Board.

The closer relationship enshrined in the MoU builds on existing collaborations between the three organisations. Each has advocated on behalf of the others; the Forum and RSF have been members of the Fund’s advisory committee; and the Fund’s co-chair Maria Ressa has been heavily involved in the Initiative on Information and Democracy launched by RSF.

The International Fund for Public Interest Media is a new independent, multilateral initiative designed to dramatically increase the volume, organisation and legitimacy of resources available to support public interest media in low and middle-income countries. It will also help chart systemic long term solutions to the current financial challenges confronting the sector.  It plans to raise a minimum of US$80m for its initial phase from bilateral development donors and democratically committed governments, from technology companies and other philanthropic sources.

The Forum on Information and Democracy is a non-profit entity created to set up democratic safeguards in the digital space. This civil society-led implementation body of the Partnership for Information and Democracy (signed by 45 countries) develops recommendations as well as regulatory and self-regulatory responses, with contributions from diverse experts and stakeholders. It launched the prefiguration of the International Observatory on Information and Democracy.

Reporters without Borders (RSF) is a non-profit international organization promoting and defending freedom, independence and pluralism of journalism. Headquartered in Paris, with 13 bureaux and sections around the world and correspondents in 130 countries, it has consultative status with the United Nations and UNESCO. RSF launched the Initiative on Information and Democracy and the Journalism Trust Initiative (JTI).

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Updated on 09.02.2022