Journalism is being hit hard globally, and some even predict the end of independent journalism in the global south, especially in Africa. It’s time to look at what may survive. Philanthropic funding will become more essential, and donors will be eager to expand partnerships between journalism and advocacy groups. Through this project, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Media Partnerships team explored the dynamics of such collaborations. Drawing from multiple case studies, the project provided recommendations for foundations, nonprofits and media organisations that maximize impact, respecting a shared covenant.
Case studies covered topics as broad as health misinformation in Nigeria, mining and water use in South Africa, gender reporting in Kenya, and coverage of corruption in Peru. The team’s research found there is no single model for partnership. Donors have a big role to play in supporting media outlets to cover social impact: subject-specific funding can be effective if goals are aligned but otherwise may disrupt newsroom priorities or create dependence on philanthropic funding. Civil society and media often define their impact differently, and so partnership boundaries and roles must be identified clearly. Partnerships are often organic and trust-based, and so funding on training should be prioritized as a way to bring organizations together and create collaborative opportunities. Resources will be even more constrained in future due to COVID-19, and the need for these partnerships will only increase. The recommendations in the report provides a blueprint for successful collaboration between advocacy and journalism.