Journalism.org.nz

Public interest journalism funded by the public


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An update on Journalism.org.nz

Several silent months have passed since the idea to launch a website dedicated to public interest journalism — journalism.org — was floated and feedback invited.. There has been plenty of activity since.

A small group has been working on the vital foundations on which such a venture will rely if it is to be successful Governance, funding, and operational support are issues that need careful consideration because we are determined that,for journalism.org to open its digital door it has to be sustainable.

Over the past few months there have been a number of lessons learned. Some have been painful, but all have been constructive.

One of the painful lessons that I have learned is that journalism.org will be a time-consuming venture and one that will require more time than I will be able to devote to it. I have come to the conclusion that the need to support my family through freelance journalism and commentary will not leave sufficient time for me to continue to take the lead role in journalism.org during its formative stage. When there is sufficient funding available for me to take on a professional role within journalism.org I will be able to reduce the amount of paid time I need to spend on other activities.

This decision also flows from another lesson: We will have to fight for funding in an economic environment where philanthropy is less evident than in more prosperous times and where we need to be wary of the difference between verbal commitments to donate and actually putting a hand in one’s pocket. Building the essential substantial operating fund will take more time than I earlier envisaged

Therefore, I have decided that to ensure we get this right our first phase will continue to be a collective effort to develop the model on which journalism.org will operate. The small voluntary team that has already been working on a trust deed, operational structure and funding model will continue to develop the framework for the organization.

When that work is completed and we are satisfied that we have the governance, funding and foundation personnel to ensure that journalism.org is a sustainable long-term venture that can deliver on its mission to promote public interest jinvestigative journalism we will push the start button.

I’m sure you will agree that this venture is too important to allow it to start too soon, falter and die. When it starts, it must be seen as a success and that will only happen if we have done our homework.

So, we are asking you to be patient for a little longer. We undertake to keep you updated on our progress toward that start date.


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Thinking aloud – What the membership tiers could look like and offer

Again, further to my earlier post about thinking aloud and suggesting structures and ideas.

Here’s our initial thinking on membership tiers and offerings. Your thoughts? Comments below or emails to me at bernard.hickey@journalism.org.nz.

Again, please don’t jump too hard and often on these. They’re suggestions and aren’t written in stone. We don’t have all the answers and we’ll be guided by our members.

We’re suggesting three tiers of membership, all with yearly and monthly payment options by credit card. We want to know your thoughts on the benefits of each and how much you would be happy to pay for this sort of service to society.

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Thinking aloud – First principles and structure for Journalism.org.nz

Over the weeks and months to come I’m going to float lots of ideas and proposals.
I want to think aloud and write regularly about what we’re thinking, why we’re thinking it, what we’re planning, what we’re doing behind the scenes.
From the start I want this to be an open source organisation in more than just the technical softwarey sense.
I want to invite feedback, rebuttals, suggestions and brainstorming from potential members.
That means a lot of what I’ll suggest will change. It will be a lot like a horseshoe at the blacksmith — beaten and tempered into the right strength and shape to handle a good old gallop once it’s fitted to the horse.
That’s why I think we need to create a robust structure that can handle some rocky patches and withstand the various slings and arrows that will come our way.
It also needs to avoid being hostage to one person’s ideas or personal situation. It needs to have a clear mandate agreed by its supporters and an independent governance structure able to keep the organisation healthy and going in the right direction.


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Here’s the MediaWatch segment on Journalism.org.nz

Jeremy Rose from Radio NZ’s excellent MediaWatch programme spoke to me last week about Journalism.org.nz.

The segment broadcast on Sunday August 19 starts at the 22 minute mark.

Here’s the audio.


One point of clarification. Jeremy mentions at the end of the segment that I’m the founder of Interest.co.nz, which isn’t strictly true. I joined David Chaston, the founder and owner of Interest.co.nz, in January 2008 as its managing editor. I’ve been an employee since then.

Interest.co.nz started as an interest rate comparison site around 1999, but began publishing news and commentary and hosting debate after I joined in 2008. That’s when it became more publicly known, but it had been around before that.

I leave as an employee on November 1, but will continue to contribute to Interest.co.nz as a freelancer while we build up Journalism.org.nz.


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Here’s our first poll. What would you pay for a basic membership?


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Introducing the first version of Journalism.org.nz

By Bernard Hickey

Journalism.org.nz is a not-for-profit trust dedicated to supporting and building public interest news, analysis, comment and debate.

We aim to gather a group of supporters able to fund, build and flesh out a community of journalists and the platform they need to report, analyse and publish the news that matters. That means investigative, probing, enterprising and explanatory journalism, rather than celebrity-driven churnalism and PR.

New Zealand needs a strong and vibrant fourth estate that challenges, probes, questions and holds to account those people, institutions and forces that affect the lives of all New Zealanders.

A new and in many ways exciting era for the fourth estate has just begun. Join us.

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