Sustainability & viability

Policy briefs and working papers on sustainability and viability of journalism and media.

This resource page is a work in progress. Please get in touch to let us know what is missing using this form.

Produced for GFMD IMPACT by Macroscope’s Sameer Padania and Francesca Silvani.

Based on recent research, and consultations, held on July 5th 2023, GFMD IMPACT has produced a discussion paper on National journalism funds.

It builds on recent research and consultations undertaken by GFMD IMPACT which show that, in a wide range of places, different actors are exploring or actively advocating for NFJs as a key pillar in the use of public and private funds to respond to the widely acknowledged financial crisis faced by independent public interest media.

A National Fund for Journalism (NFJ) is a dedicated structure that is designed with a strategic sectoral purpose to provide long-term funding to an independent journalism ecosystem in a particular country, region or place. It can take different forms, but in essence is designed to redress shortcomings, barriers or imbalances in a particular media market, or to incentivise, catalyse or accelerate new entrants or transformative processes in that market.

Konrad-Adenauer Stiftung

The full report is available here.

In this report, the Konrad-Adenauer Stiftung underscores the importance of supporting local media organisations in ways adapted to the particular socioeconomic and political contexts in sub-Saharan African countries. The report enumerates the following policy recommendations to promote the long-term sustainability of local media:

  1. The development of an enabling environment, including legal and regulatory measures and the provision of back-end support in areas such as research, training and others.

  2. Strengthening funding mechanisms, including:

  • indirect subsidy such as tax relief and the zero-rating of news websites;

  • direct public funding, as exists for media in several countries;

  • the fair use of government advertising, often a major factor in media economies in the Global South;

  • commercial income and ways to support the access of local and community media to advertising markets;

  • responding to the power of digital platforms, who need to make a fair contribution to local information ecosystems;

  • improved co-ordination among international donor agencies in order to deliver greater impact, including support for the new International Fund for Public Interest Media; and

  • the development of new business models that draw on diverse sources of income, with particular focus on direct audience support.


The full paper is available here.

This paper focuses on government and media initiatives that address the viability challenges in Kenya. It explores the instances and circumstances under which the media community in the country has worked closely with the government to implement media reforms through new legislation and related policies.


The reality is that, even before the current viability crisis, there were too few news outlets to serve audiences across the range of languages, localities and communities. Many countries have lacked an inclusive professional journalism system that serves diverse audiences and covers stories of, and for, marginalised communities and people living in poverty. Efforts to support the production of public interest journalism should therefore be framed in a wider perspective of reinvigorating media development more broadly.

Global Alliance for Responsible Media

The GARM has developed and will adopt common definitions to ensure that the advertising industry is categorizing harmful content in the same way across the board. These eleven key categories have been identified in consultation with experts from GARM’s NGO Consultative Group. Establishing these standards is the essential foundation needed to stop harmful content from being monetised through advertising. Individual GARM members will adopt these shared principles in their operations, whether they are a marketer, agency, or media platform.

We fundamentally believe that, together, these definitions are the cornerstone for us to find balance between supporting responsible speech, bolstering public safety, and providing for responsible marketing practices. With this framework of consistent categories in place, we will be able to improve transparency in the availability, monetization, and inclusion of content within advertising campaigns. This is essential to help platforms, agencies, and advertisers make decisions essential to the advertising industry.

In November 2019, the GARM initiated work towards this challenge under a working group focused on advancing shared language and standards for advertising & media (as seen in our GARM Charter here). The output of this work is the following:

  1. A common understanding of what harmful and sensitive content is via content categories

  2. A common understanding of where ads should not appear, as expressed in a Brand Safety Floor

  3. A common way of delineating different risk levels for sensitive content, as expressed in a Brand Suitability


DW Akademie

This paper concludes that investing in safety and security measures not only saves lives but also strengthens the business models of media outlets.

Media managers and editors such as Maria Ressa of Rappler (Philippines), Jade Ramírez from Periodistas de a Pie (Mexico), Roula Mikhael from the Maharat Foundation (Lebanon) and Jean-Baptiste Sawadogo from the Community Radio Radio Vénégré (Burkina Faso) share how investing in safety and security measures not only saves lives but also strengthens the business models of media outlets.

They see clear links between media viability aspects such as quality journalism, audience engagement, collaborations, and capacity building on the one hand and physical, psychological and digital security as well as secure working conditions on the other.

To put their experiences into a wider context, the publication also contains articles from the ACOS Alliance, IWMF and digital security expert Daniel Moßbrucker.

For the Spanish speakers: you can also find a summary online as well as an excerpt from the interview with the Mexican editors of Periodistas de a Pie, Amapola and Lado B.

BBC Media Action - JAMES DEANE

In the first working paper in a series from our project Protecting Independent Media for Effective Development (PRIMED), author James Deane assesses whether fresh approaches to public subsidy might help support independent media in low- and middle-income settings.

Consortium to Promote Human Rights, Civic Freedoms and Media Development (CHARM) Africa & Fojo Media Institute

This policy brief seeks to

  • Critically explore the concept of sustainable journalism.

  • Define what the concept could entail in a sub-Saharan context and investigate the implications for media development.

"The approach should be of interest to everyone who has an interest in the health of journalism. That would include individual practitioners, publishers, regulators, governments and others. We feel that it should particularly be taken into account by the media development community. We believe that the development of intervention and support strategies and plans can profit from using the notion of sustainability as a unifying principle."

Government of Canada - MIRA MILOSEVIC (GFMD)

"In only two decades, changes in the political, technological, social, and business environment have compromised sustainability and, thus, the independence of journalism and news media globally. With the COVID-19 pandemic amplifying the crisis, the coming years will be decisive for the future of journalism."

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