Peer-based research funding as a model for journalism funding

Authors : Maria Latos, Frank Lobigs, Holger Wormer

Financing high-quality journalistic reporting is becoming increasingly difficult worldwide and economic pressure has intensified in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. While numerous alternative funding possibilities are discussed, ranging from membership models to government funding, they should not compromise the highest possible independence of journalism – a premise that also applies to scientific research.

Here, the state is involved in funding, but peer review models reduce funding bias. However, systematic approaches as to how established funding models in research could be transferred to journalism are lacking. We attempt such a systematic transfer using the example of the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG).

The transfer, based on an analysis of the complex DFG funding structures, was validated in 10 interviews with experts from science, journalism and foundations. Building on this, we developed a concept for a German Journalism Foundation (Deutsche Journalismus-gemeinschaft, DJG), which awards funding to journalists and cooperative projects based on a peer review process.

The funding priorities of the proposed organization range from infrastructure support to grants for investigative skills. Thus, unlike other models, it does not focus on funding specific topics in media coverage, but on areas such as innovation support, technology implementation and training. Although the model was designed for Germany, such a systematic transfer could also be tested for other countries.

URL : Peer-based research funding as a model for journalism funding