FAIR Protocol on Project Funding
Purpose and definition
1. This protocol provides a set of principles to be considered and rules to be applied by FAIR when deciding how to handle approaches to or by potential funders with regard to project funding.
2. Project funding is defined for the purpose of this protocol as any funding aimed at supporting a specific project other than projects which are aimed at building FAIR as an organisation or which help FAIR to perform its day-to-day functions.
3. FAIR is a not-for-profit, pan-African network of working investigative journahsts.
4. FAIR serves it membership by promoling members’ independence, helping them access means necessary to perform their journalistic task and lending them the necessary professional support.
5. FAIR performs its independence, access and support functions through inter alia networking, advocacy, channeling of professional opportunilies, grant-making and a range of “help desk” functions, which include supplying hard-to-come-by information, performing “marriage broking” between members and publishers or other stake holders, and establishing work linkages between members or between members and colleagues further afield.
6. FAIR’s role is therefore one of facilitation so that members can better perform their journalistic task of news content production. FAIR itself is not a news content producer (although it may embark on occasional “flagship” projects, such as the FAIR Transnational Investigation, in which FAIR as an organisation produces news content).
7. FAIR is mindful of the dire resource constraints fadng the profession in Africa.
8. FAIR is equally aware of the potentially skewing effect that funded news content production may have on the public news agenda. Funding that comes with strings attached must be measured against this.
9. FAIR subscribes to the highest ethical and professional standards.
10. FAIR strives at all times to preserve its good name.
11. The FAIR secretariat may approach, or be approached by, potential funders with a view to the funders funding projects to benefit FAIR and/or of its members and/or the profession at large.
12. Individual FAIR members acting on behalf of FAIR may also approach, or be approached by, potential funders for this purpose provided that they pursue any resultant negotiations under the direction of the secretariat.
13. In either case, the FAIR secretariat shall inform the board at the first subsequent board meeting of any such approach, and keep it informed of developments at subsequent board meetings. The board may approve or reject any approach, and/or give direction on how negotiations should be pursued.
14. No deal may be concluded before board approval is given.
15. In making any decision the board has to consider the above set of “general principles”.
16. The board also has to apply the following specific criteria:
a. No project funded directly by any government body will be acceptable, except where the government body exists with the primary aim to support media independence and/or diversity. When the funding is from a dvii society body which is ultimately funded by a government body, the funding may be acceptable provided that the civil sodety body acts as a sufficient “buffer” between the ultimate funder and ultimately funded so as to preclude any undue influence by the government body.
b. To the extent that a project has no direct bearing on news values (i.e. that it does not seek to result in news content production), conditions set by a funder may be acceptable provided that the project is consistent with FAIR’s general character and aims.
c. To the extent that a project has a direct bearing on news values (i.e. that it seeks to result in news content production):
i. FAIR on its own behalf (such as in the case of its flagship Transnational Investigation planned for 2007) will accept funding only where all editorial decisions (including but not limited to subject, content, geographical area of interest, location of participants, quality, editing, publication medium and specific publication) are solely those of FAIR. This does not preclude FAIR accepting funding from funders who set conditions, provided that those conditions are consistent with FAIR’s independent editorial decisions.
ii. FAIR on behalf of its members andlor the profession at large will accept funding only where the funder’s conditions are limited to no more than the following general criteria: content theme (as opposed to specific topic), content geographical area, participant location/gender group/age group, and publication medium (as opposed to specific publication). The funding will be made available to FAIR’s membership and/or the profession at large through a FAIR grant or grants (similar to the small grants first awarded in February 2007). Decisions regarding the selection of candidates, specific topics and publications, and all subsequent editorial decisions will be those of FAIR and/or its agents and/or an independent advisory board FAIR may appoint from time to time andlor the successful candidates and/or the publications concerned, whichever may be relevant, and not those of the funder. FAIR, however, will object neither to the funder causing secondary publication in its own publication or in a publication over which it has control, and to the funder making its own editing decisions in that regard.
iii. Where a funder sets conditions more restrictive than in ii above, FAIR may play its ordinary role as a facilitator, for example by “marriage broking” between the funder and one or more individual members. FAIR will, however, do so only if it is satisfied that the funder’s motive is not to influence the public news agenda in a direction inimical to the public interest. Once the “marriage broking” function has been performed, FAIR will neither be an active participant in the project nor claim any right to editorial control. The project will not be branded as a FAIR project.