Scoop Foundation for Public Interest Journalism – Impact Statement 2016
The Scoop Foundation for Public Interest Journalism is a charitable trust founded on the principle that an informed citizenry is a basic requirement for democracy. Our founding purpose is to support ethical journalism training and the publication of trustworthy public interest information, freely accessible to all New Zealanders.
Scoop Publishing Ltd (SPL) publishes www.scoop.co.nz and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Charitable Trust. The two entities have separate governance and financial frameworks, but all profits of the company must be applied to the objectives of the Trust.
The problem the Foundation seeks to counter is the global decline of a free, independent news media. If fewer journalists report on stories that matter, we are less well informed about matters that affect us all. Informed voter participation is vital for democratic decision-making.
The decline of independent news media in the free world is accelerating alarmingly. The complex causes have been analysed and ways to reverse the trend or generate new business models are being tried, but there is no simple fix. The news media must adapt in order to continue to play a vital role in our democracy. There are exciting opportunities ahead, as well as difficulties to be overcome.
This is the social enterprise in which the Trust is engaged.
HOW PEOPLE EXPERIENCE THIS PROBLEM
Sources of truly independent public interest news are more and more difficult for readers to find. Mainstream journalists are presenting more clickbait stories, celebrity gossip, and unattributed spin news.
History shows that distortion of information is how powerful interest groups by-pass or overthrow democratic decision making, leaving ordinary people virtually powerless through the distortion of information.
Without easy ability to access and test information to hear different perspectives, and to freely discuss the government issues that affect them, voters lose the power to influence decisions. Decline of confidence with democratic processes leads not just to disempowerment, but also to cynicism, anger, and disengagement from both government and the community – as we see in elections throughout the free world.
THE CAUSES OF THE PROBLEM
In the past, funding for news came through advertisers targeting consumers who read, watched, and listened to the news. Now, whenever people go online programmatic algorithms employ cookies to target them and their browsing habits, so news channels are no longer well supported by advertisers and their revenues are in freefall.
Contributing causes include
- Loss of revenue as advertisers shift to global internet providers such as Facebook, Google.
- Erosion of independence as news media companies move to survival funding from sponsors with corporate interests.
- Attrition of constitutional freedom of information tenets in democracies as Governments respond to party political funding from lobbyists.
- Slowness of traditional news media to find effective ways to use the internet to fund and provide public interest news services.
- Growth of public relations and lobbyists to fill the gaps in news media coverage.
- Growth of online social media as the way most people find out news information, which is neither independent nor free.
- Lack of public awareness and of political interest in the growing information gap.
FORMATION OF THE CHARITABLE TRUST
This upheaval in news services brings fresh possibilities. Four major initiatives were undertaken in 2015.
- Formation of the Scoop Foundation for Public Interest Journalism in 2015, which wholly owns the Scoop Publishing Company. The Foundation is a charitable trust and the company is a not-for-profit company, which means that all profit and all donations received by either entity must be used for the public interest journalism purposes in the Trust Deed.
- The public was invited to support the new Foundation by renewable membership of the Foundation and by contributing to our continued development and vision. There are currently 1,000 members.
- We became an Enspiral Venture – part of a collective of people and companies who support each other to create a thriving society.
- The Scoop Publishing Company, which operates the scoop.co.nz website, developed the Ethical Paywall concept. This is a new business model whereby commercial users commit to paying a license fee in line with the number of people in the organisation with access to the service. All information on Scoop remains freely available to all readers for personal use.
FOUNDATION PLANS 2016/17
- Building a fund to support the educational purposes of the charity
- Running an annual Membership Drive
- Seeking charitable donations to the Foundation
- Commissioning and supporting specific investigative journalism projects
- Funding educational initiatives such as running and participating in public seminars and providing speakers
- Incentives and support for education of journalists and interns
- Seeking advice from various groups who participate in NZ commercial and political life to help us build our capacity to understand, design, and deliver sustainable social enterprise objectives.
SCOOP PUBLISHING PLANS FOR SCOOP WEBSITE 2016/17
Scoop Publishing Ltd will continue to grow the sustainable, low-cost, business model and provide free access to independent, reliable, archived news information for more people in New Zealand, and a platform for them to discuss and contribute their views.
- An updated, more user friendly website and mobile link
- More regional journalism connections
- Mediating vibrant discussion
- Providing an ability to access the archive via an API
- Expanding new business models which support the core mission like ethical paywall licenses and subscription services such as Newsagent and InfoPages.
The website will continue to –
- publish news releases on all topics of public interest (social developments. politics, commerce, environment, culture, industry etc.)
- welcome all contributors
- promote discussion of all matters of public interest
- maintain our unique 17 year archive of public interest topics
- fund investigative journalism and informed commentary
And work collaboratively with –
- Organisations accredited for Scoop
- Journalists and bloggers
- Commercial and legal advisers
- Public relations personnel
- Media academics
- IT experts
- Clients using Scoop’s professional services
The Scoop website needs to meet their clients increasing needs in the ways that best suit them. It is already the go-to site for policy-makers, central and local government, business and professional interests, community services, educators and students. And also the go-to place for all who need accurate information to participate effectively in public decision-making.
We believe that New Zealand citizens will benefit from the establishment of of the Scoop Foundation and its educational projects that fund and support good quality news information. Through its subsidiary company, related publishing news services will remain freely available; independent of political and corporate interests; and provide a platform where different views can be expressed, understood, and discussed.
This can only strengthen the resilience of our democratic traditions.
The direct impact of the Scoop Foundation will be measured through the following goals and metrics:
Short term: (first year) – Increased numbers of citizens become Scoop Foundation members, an increased amount of investigative journalism is funded by the Foundation and produced, members are engaged
Medium term (2-3 years) – An increasing amount of educational and mentoring activities are undertaken by the foundation, an increased awareness of the problems independent media face; more journalists working on public interest stories that matter.
Long term (4-5 years) – An increase in the range and diversity of independent public interest news sources in New Zealand.
Quantifying the Changes
Short term (first year) – Number of new members. Amount of member donations, actions taken by members to engage on Foundation projects or discussions. Measures of the range and quantity of submissions funded by the foundation published on Scoop and other news forums. Volume of news financially supported by the Scoop Foundation and metrics on its reach.
Medium term (2-3 years) – The number of journalists receiving support and education through internships and mentoring provided by the Foundation.
Long term (4-5 years) – A successful trust which is capable of investing in and supporting new public interest publishing ventures to flourish. The foundation open sources its learnings on business models and assists other organisations
Scoop Publishing Ltd
The Scoop foundation will also have an impact indirectly by supporting Scoop Publishing Limited financially through the provision of interest free loans. We will measure this impact through the following SPL metrics:
Short term (first year) – An increasing number of people (both public and commercial) using Scoop who have access to both read and disseminate information;
Medium term (2-3 years) – Quantity of quality news published on Scoop is steadily increasing and journalists engaged by Scoop to write on public interest issues is increasing.
Long term (4-5 years) – An increase in the opportunities for citizens to engage with important information as both consumers and producers in an independent news source.
Quantifying the Changes
Short term (first year) – Monthly Benchmark Reports – Google Analytics for the Scoop.co.nz website. Number of searches on Google showing Scoop results. Number of commercial use licensees. Number of corporate members. Number of contributors and contacts listed in Scoop database. Number of journalists employed or engaged on contract basis by Scoop.
Medium term (2-3 years) – Measures of the range and quantity of submissions funded by the foundation published on Scoop and other news forums. Volume of news published financially supported by the Scoop Foundation and metrics on its reach. Number of journalists employed or engaged on contract basis by Scoop.
Long term (4-5 years) – A robust sustainable publishing which is capable of hosting discussion and gives opportunities for citizens to contribute information to the news stream. Scoop’s independence is closely tied to financial strength in terms of income and balance sheet.