Future News Pilot Fund: End of programme report
The news we access and engage with is a central tenet of a functioning democracy. But collapse, crisis, cataclysm are all words associated with the current news landscape.
While the decline in print sales has continued, the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a sharp increase in people accessing news online.
High-quality local news and eliminating mis-information and dis-information is critical if individuals and communities are to make informed choices about their health care, where they buy their essential items and how they choose to vote in the future, local and general elections.
In 2019 Nesta was asked by the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) to design and deliver a £2 million Future News Pilot Fund (the Fund).
With partners Bethnal Green Ventures and a wider team of experts in design thinking, prototyping and media innovation, Nesta awarded 20 grants to innovators across England who ran four-month prototypes to diversify and expand readership and find new routes to financial sustainability. This report explores the innovation emerging in the field and draws five conclusions:
- Access to high quality, independent news and information reinforces our democratic landscape, and it is vital that it is sustained.
- There are many promising ideas, but to sustain public interest news we now need long term public investment into innovation in the news ecosystem.
- The #BlackLivesMatter movement that exploded in the aftermath of the George Floyd killing has revealed the need to address diversity in many institutions and industries.
- Innovation has never been more necessary to create sustainable revenue models.
- We need more coalitions of funders who will support the goals above.
The report also sets out clear policy recommendations that are needed to reinforce the public interest news ecosystem.