Alternative Models of Financing Investigative Journalism

Alternative Models of Financing Investigative Journalism

How to finance investigative Journalism best? A Team of Prof. Dr. Michel Clement (Universität Hamburg / Hamburg Business School) and Prof. Dr. Wiebke Loosen analysed eight alternative financing models. The study, that was commissioned by the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament, shows: a mixture of models allows the market to benefit best from each model’s core asset.

Short Summary

This report aims to identify, evaluate, and discuss models to finance investigative journalism in the EU.

To provide a thorough evaluation, we developed a set of criteria that cover six areas to that the financial source may exert an influence from high to low degrees. Those are (1) Independence, (2) Quality, (3) Market Structure, (4) Processes, (5) Sustainability, and (6) Competitiveness. This set of criteria is applied to eight representative financing models that stretch from the classical publishing house over innovative financing to publicly supported
media. The analysis reveals that only a mixture of models allows the market to benefit best from each model’s core asset. The diversity of finance models is a natural inhibitor of market concentration, when regulative interference is well dosed. Also, the pluralistic set of finance models supports independence in that power is spread over many market actors. This must stretch out from local and regional to European and international levels.
We advocate for efficient structures to connect across those geographic entities and emphasize the importance of networks. Support in both directions on all levels (local / global) may serve as a valuable source of stabilization.

Inside organizations, low barriers between the content production and content financing side may negatively impact the degree of independent reporting. However, we find positive examples of entrepreneurial journalists who take care of the fundraising and the writing and still achieve a big contribution to the “fourth power”. Fostering transparency eases the way to monitor the sources and potential entanglements between content and its financial source.
With respect to quality, the market is in need for financial sources to support, and not distort, competition. Especially governmental activities bear the responsibility to complement private activities with the overall goal to upkeep a transparent, balanced, and diverse news market.


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