05 Nov 2019

Launching the Future of News Pilot Fund

By Dama Sathianathan

We’re incredibly excited to announce the launch of the Future of News Pilot Fund, a government-backed pilot fund to support innovation in public interest news in England. We’re working together with Nesta, who’ve been chosen to run this pilot fund by DCMS. At BGV, we’ll be working with early-stage businesses using technology to shape the future of public interest news, particularly geared towards enabling underserved communities with access to reliable and accurate news on issues that matter most to them across England.  


What’s the opportunity for the future of public interest news?  

“There has been a steep decline in the number of journalists and public interest news outlets at a local and regional level, and there are few sources of revenue or funding available to spark innovative responses.” – from Nesta’s analysis

This pilot fund is a response to the severe challenges laid out in the
Cairncross Review and aims to support organisations through programmes and grant funding of up to £100,000 to ensure sustainable provision of public-interest news and explore new funding models and ways to start levelling the playing field for UK journalism.  

As outlined in
Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2019, we’re already seeing significant shifts of focus against the backdrop of a changing media news landscape and digital disruption, with many news organisations ‘pivoting to paid’; platforms rethinking responsibilities ‘pivoting to private’ and others exploring new accessible formats through a ‘pivot to audio’ and more. 

Through this pilot fund, we want to help organisations regardless of their size and maturity, to have the scope to explore different business models and help foster an ecosystem for innovations in public interest news that is sustainable. That is why we’re running two tracks for the fund, with
BGV delivering the accelerator track that is focused on supporting early-stage business using tech to re-imagine engagement with public interest news, particularly for under-served communities and/or improve financial sustainability thereof.

Change is afoot in the public interest news sphere, with large organisations already helping individuals and organisations through 
Google News InitiativesFacebook Journalism Project and fantastic individuals bringing together communities to help equip journalists with the skills to navigate a digital-first world like Hacks/HackersJournocoders and more. We’ve seen new and exciting developments in the way news is published with a shift to constructive journalism and slow-journalism more concerned about how news is delivered and not about the tempo of delivering news; organisations paving the way for ethical advertising to challenge the big platforms with their advertising operations; new platforms and business models providing solutions journalism like Perspective Daily, providing people with more agency to understand the news; The Guardian becoming a BCorp and setting an example as the first major newspaper to consider the impact of their business on workers, readers, community and the environment and using business as a force for good. 

We don’t want to reinvent the wheel.
Instead, in partnership with Nesta, we want to help organisations pilot new approaches to public interest news so communities (particularly underserved communities) across England can have access to reliable and accurate news about the issues that matter most to them.

For more information about the fund, 
visit our website here or Nesta’s website here and get in touch if you’d like to apply or get involved in our ecosystem events.