The Independent News Emergency Relief Coordination (INERC) is an effort to help assist funders willing and able to provide significant financial support for independent news media. INERC’s ambition is to guide the emergency funding to those independent news media around the world who need help the most in this challenging situation during the coronavirus crisis. It will support better understand where the need is greatest and coordinate the efforts to make the most significant possible difference in this difficult moment. WAN-IFRA has joined INERC to help news media companies during the pandemic.
The coronavirus crisis will have a huge impact on the news media, with much independent news media across the world facing potentially catastrophic declines in income and consequently contemplating significant cost-cutting and at worst closing down.
The challenges many news organizations are facing are bad news for our societies and our ability to combat the coronavirus. Independent news media are key to helping people understand the crisis and act accordingly to protect themselves and their communities. They are key to both publicizing and scrutinizing how governments and other powerful institutions respond to the crisis.
INERC is based on the idea that better information on the need for and supply of emergency funding relief can help ensure this relief is more effectively and evenly distributed globally, especially to the less well-known news media that often get little or no support.
The purpose of INERC is:
- Collecting data to identify areas of greatest need from independent news media across the world, including both for-profit and non-profit, but excluding government-controlled and state-owned media.
- On this basis, advising funders as to where they can make the greatest possible difference.
- Providing optional overall guidelines for those considering stepping up to provide funding help for independent news media during the coronavirus crisis.
What makes INERC unique is that it directly connects several major funders, networks organizing independent news media, media development organizations, and research capacity to enable more effective and informed coordinated emergency relief. It is a temporary initiative, initially planned for six months, and supplement the important work done by others to coordinate media funding and media development.
Coordinate the response to the crisis
The members aim to coordinate their response to the crisis in part by facilitating collection of data which is anonymized, analyzed, and presented publicly and to the group’s members to enable a better understanding of the coronavirus crisis’ impact on independent news media and to enable more informed decision making among major funders offerings emergency relief for journalism. All the data collected as part of this research is kept strictly confidential and is only available to the Reuters Institute’s researchers. INERC members will meet regularly to discuss research findings, coordinate responses, and share ideas, but all decisions about the research are taken by the Reuters Institute.
We hope that this temporary collaboration will also inform and support the creation of the International Fund for Public Interest Media (IFPIM) to provide more long-term structure for channeling funding from development agencies, philanthropic donors and platform companies to independent journalism across the world in a way that protects news media’s editorial independence. The founding members have initiated INERC on the basis of long-running conversations in informal advisory conversations around the IFPIM and hope other funders will join the coordination effort.
How INERC will operate
INERC involves a group of charities, foundations, nonprofits, and private companies providing emergency relief in the form of financial support for independent news media. INERC is open to organizations in a position to offer significant financial support to independent news media joining on the basis of support from existing members.
Founding members include BBC Media Action, Center for International Media Assistance, Facebook, Google, John D., and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Luminate, and WAN-IFRA (the World Association of News Publishers).
Here’s how INERC will operate:
- Day-to-day, it will be run by a small secretariat at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism working with support from Luminate.
- The INERC group members provide input on the work and make decisions about the admission of new members and get regular updates on the research based on fully anonymized data to coordinate and inform their funding support for independent news media.
- INERC will work with other organizations on understanding the needs of independent news media and on the data collection.
- Topline findings will be published on a regular basis to help others navigate the crisis.