The International Press Institute today announced that it had been awarded a grant of $200,000 from the New York-based Ford Foundation. The 18-month grant will be used to support IPI’s core mission.

The Ford Foundation grant will enable IPI to continue its work in three focus areas this year: the promotion of high standards of journalism; the promotion of professional, investigative reporting on corruption, in particular related to development aid; and the promotion of understanding among journalists in countries in conflict, which would lead to a greater understanding among people and governments.

“I am excited about this opportunity to reestablish cooperation with an institution with which IPI shares not only a vision of striving for the reinforcement of democratic values and institutions,  but which also played an important role in IPI’s establishment 60 years ago,” said IPI Director Alison Bethel McKenzie.

The Ford Foundation has been one of IPI’s principal supporters since its founding in 1950. The establishment of the International Press Institute at Columbia University that year was made possible by an annual, three-year Ford grant of $40,000.  The Ford Foundation has continued to support IPI over the years, financing many of IPI’s activities, from bilateral meetings to journalists’ handbooks, seminars and training.

In particular, the Ford Foundation was one of the principal backers of one of IPI’s most ambitious projects: The establishment of two training schools for journalists, one in Nairobi, covering East and Central Africa; the other in Lagos for West Africa. These training projects became the basis for what is now the School of Journalism at the University of Nairobi.

“The International Press Institute has been at the vanguard of efforts to protect freedom of opinion and expression, promote the free flow of news and information,  and improve the practices of journalism,” said Calvin Sims of the Ford Foundation. “The Foundation is proud to support IPI’s work, which has taken on new urgency as attacks against the press and journalists are on the rise worldwide.”

The International Press Institute, which recently also announced a partnership with Internet giant Google, is a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists.  Since its beginning, IPI has organised meetings between journalists from countries in conflict or between journalists close to groups in conflict within a given country. IPI organized meetings between French and German journalists after WW2 and this has remained a model that has been successfully repeated, including during recent meetings between journalists from Serbia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

In 2011, IPI will host the Israeli-Palestinian Journalists Forum from 14-16 June in Vienna. The Israeli-Palestinian Journalists Forum is conceived with the aim of facilitating long term dialogue between journalists from Israel and the Palestinian Territories on issues of press freedom, and will feature two days of closed-door discussions on issues related to press freedom.