As the challenges facing newsrooms multiply, how can philanthropy help independent media “keep the lights on” without creating dependence or causing collateral damage? As donor budgets tighten, how can funders ensure the media landscape is pluralistic and free from interference?

Donors, journalists and media development specialists joined forces last week to wrestle with those questions and more during a roundtable discussion at IPI’s 2021 World Congress. Their goal: to hammer out recommendations for philanthropic institutions with a mission to support journalism.

Here are 10 takeaways from the discussion. See a full report on the roundtable.

1. Funders should take an “ecosystem approach” to supporting independent media, with systemic collaboration between philanthropic institutions, governments, investors and other players.

2. Funders should prioritise long-term, operational support over short-term, project-related funding.

Governments should put more taxpayer money into supporting independent media without compromising editorial independence. The Forum on Information and Democracy recommends 0.1 percent of annual gross domestic product.

Wealthy nations should spend more of their budgets for overseas development assistance on core support for independent media. The International Fund for Public Interest Media recommends one percent of ODA budgets.

Donors should reduce the bureaucratic burdens on independent media outlets that receive funding.

Philanthropic institutions should help media organisations learn to fundraise for themselves.

Funders should provide more money for legal assistance to help counter litigation aimed at silencing independent media.

Funders should not neglect local media and smaller, niche outlets.

Philanthropic institutions should strive to bring other actors into the blend, including civil society organisations and impact investors.

Funders should not glorify philanthropy or overstate its potential to bring about media sustainability, especially in environments hostile to independent journalism.

Sustainable Financing of Media: How Can Philanthropy Help? was jointly organised by the International Press Institute and ERSTE Foundation.

Participants included representatives from the Forum on Information and Democracy, the Global Forum for Media Development, the International Fund for Public Interest Media, Open Society Foundations, Fritt Ord Foundation, Limelight Foundation, Porticus, Civitates, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the Media Development Investment Fund, Eurozine, the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, Reporting Democracy, the European Commission, the International Press Institute, ERSTE Foundation and the Center for Media, Data and Society at Central European University.