With the digital revolution pushing news publishers to develop new approaches and tools, Dame Frances Cairncross has recommended government funding for innovative approaches to improve the supply of public interest news. She describes the different types of news which could be categorised as ‘public interest’ in her review – including investigative journalism and reporting on the activities of public institutions.
In July 2019, the then Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright announced a £2 million pilot innovation fund to support public interest journalism in the UK, following recommendations in the Cairncross Review. The fund will back promising technologies, models and ideas, so communities across the UK have access to reliable and accurate news about the issues that matter most to them.
The Future News Pilot Fund aims to support and test ideas and solutions that:
• reimagine engagement of people and communities in the generation and dissemination of public interest news.
• improve the financial sustainability of public interest news.
The programme is open to news organisations and other innovators working in England. It will have a particular focus on helping providers of local and regional news in England, including start-ups and SMEs.
Applicants need to select one of two tracks:
• Innovation Sprint: this track offers grant funding, plus a range of wrap-around support. Any organisation that wants to test a specific idea should apply to this track. Support activities will take place across the country and at Nesta’s offices in London.
• Accelerator: this track offers grant funding and will provide structured business-building support and community events. This track is for commercial, early-stage businesses with a technology-enabled solution that could address the focus areas of this fund. The accelerator programme will be run by Bethnal Green Ventures and take place in London.
Both tracks offer grant funding of £20,000 – £100,000, depending on the scope of the idea.
Applications must be submitted by 23:59 GMT on 8 December 2019.