Public interest journalism funded by the public

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An update on

Several silent months have passed since the idea to launch a website dedicated to public interest journalism — — 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 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 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 during its formative stage. When there is sufficient funding available for me to take on a professional role within 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 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 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.


Thinking aloud – First principles and structure for

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.


Here’s the MediaWatch segment on

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

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, which isn’t strictly true. I joined David Chaston, the founder and owner of, in January 2008 as its managing editor. I’ve been an employee since then. 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 as a freelancer while we build up


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