It Takes a Journalist
Supporting a Global Network in Times of Crisis
Strengthening journalism, and supporting journalists, everywhere.Download the Case
Strengthening journalism, and supporting journalists, everywhere.Download the Case
ICFJ empowers an unparalleled global network of media professionals – serving 132,000 journalists from 173 countries in the last five years alone. We are dedicated to advancing high-quality journalism that addresses pressing global issues, informs citizens, and improves lives.
ICFJ helps journalists combat disinformation, innovate editorially, and create sustainable business models for independent news outlets as we face a world beset by overlapping crises. Your support is truly meaningful as we quickly deploy funds to assist journalists who are putting their lives on the line to bring us the news.
Our campaign is providing direct support, training, and resources to journalists.
Many newsrooms lack the time to develop innovative solutions to the challenges facing journalism — from rising disinformation to skeptical audiences to threats from authoritarian leaders. As part of this campaign ICFJ has piloted Leap – ICFJ’s News Innovation Lab, a space for journalists and technologists to explore, design and develop solutions that address specific problems. In 2022, we completed our first Solution Challenge on Building Trust in News, a 10-week sprint-based program to create and tool or process to engage more deeply with communities and build audience trust. Leap will also support individual innovators to work on projects and tools that can help journalism best serve the public.Learn More
News outlets, especially those serving local communities and operating in fragile democracies, are facing unprecedented challenges and daunting odds. That’s why we are making a special effort to help journalists build new ventures and achieve financial sustainability. Early investments in our It Takes a Journalist campaign have led to the launch of Elevate, ICFJ’s new business hub that is providing independent small and mid-size news outlets with the training and resources they need to become financially viable so that they can provide accurate news to their communities well into the future.Learn More
Beijing’s tightening grip on free speech in Hong Kong has forced news organizations to close and many of their journalists to flee the country. From exile, reporters are launching new publications, working to evade censorship and reach audiences with verified news. Journalist Tinshui Yeung is helping these media navigate the complex challenges that come with their work. How can they pay reporters in country safely? How can they defend against authoritarian attempts to erase their journalism from the internet?
As an ICFJ Knight Innovation Fellow, Tinshui researched solutions to these questions – interviewing news leaders operating in repressive environments – and advised Chinese-language news organizations based on what he found. Several adopted the tools he recommended, from offshore payment systems to website “plug-ins” that protect content in a decentralized way. The result: Today, these news outlets can make payments more securely and better ensure their journalism remains easily accessible to audiences (what Tinshui calls “operational resilience”).
Tinshui’s work with ICFJ helped him secure a fellowship at Georgetown University to expand his research. In 2023 he also will advise more news outlets facing censorship, expanding beyond Chinese-language media.
Leap, ICFJ’s news innovation lab, helped Sérgio Spagnuolo of Brazil and his team launch “Election SOS” Pulse to monitor and analyze the information – and disinformation – that political campaigners share on social media. During the 2022 midterm election cycle in the U.S., this tool highlighted posts by 300 nonpartisan experts to help journalists identify trending questions and authoritative sources. Pulse was also adopted by New Mexico In Depth, an investigative reporting news outlet in a state where disinformation was rampant during close governor’s and House races. Most recently, Pulse helped amplify reliable information about an effort by Georgia Democrats to expand voting days during the Dec. 6 runoff election won by Sen. Raphael Warnock.
Previously, Sérgio has developed Pulse tools for connecting scientists with journalists, elevating reliable sources about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and more.
With the support of this campaign, ICFJ Innovation Fellows brought cutting-edge tools and strategies across borders to address the U.S. disinformation crisis head-on during the 2022 midterm election cycle. ICFJ Fellow Laura Zommer – a fact-checking pioneer from Argentina – created Factchequeado in response to election misinformation spreading through Spanish-speaking communities in the U.S. More than two dozen news outlets and fact-checking organizations in 15 U.S. states, including all the swing states, shared verified information from Laura’s group – on everything from inflation and gas prices to early voting and mail-in ballots. On election night on Nov. 4, Factchequeado produced a six-hour livestream show to provide real-time, accurate information in Spanish as the ballots were counted. Factchequeado has been featured in The New York Times and on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360.
In 2023, Factchequeado is creating the first database of Spanish-language fact checks in the U.S. for researchers to analyze disinformation trends specific to Spanish and English-speaking communities.
The It Takes a Journalist campaign is providing support to the news outlet Rubryka, our close partner in Ukraine founded by Anastasia Rudenko, to help them stay in business and do deep reporting on the long-term environmental impacts of the war, especially on possible nuclear station leaks.
Anastasia and her team are developing a project called EcoSolutions, which addresses a largely ignored outcome of the war: environmental problems that could have lethal consequences and endure for decades. EcoSolutions already has launched a site featuring environmental stories, and the team is finishing a Telegram chatbot that will give Ukrainians immediate and crucial information on issues such as water and air contamination, food security, and the fragile state of nuclear power plants.
“The scale of (environmental) impact was colossal,” Anastasia says. “War reporting may be the number one priority, but … we feel it’s important to produce other kinds of stories that are useful to people and help them.”
The Joyce Barnathan Emergency Fund is a vital part of our It Takes a Journalist campaign and provides urgent support to journalists in distress, helping them to stay free and safe. Recipients of funding are ICFJ’s close partners who stand out for their excellent journalism – resources are deployed when we cannot wait to secure other institutional grants because lives are on the line.
In 2021, ICFJ mobilized quickly to help Afghan journalist and 2012 ICFJ Knight Award winner Sami Mahdi to flee Kabul with his family three days before the Taliban took over. We covered immigration fees and travel costs so he could safely settle in the U.S. Now, he is carrying on important work helping Afghan journalists and others as a member of ICFJ’s staff.
Despite Putin’s aggressive media crackdown, Roman Anin’s IStories, a Russian independent investigative news site, continues to report on the war in exile. We are providing critical support through the Joyce Barnathan Emergency Fund for Journalists to Roman and his team of reporters, who have been proclaimed foreign agents and undesirable by the Kremlin.
After IStories published an interview with a Russian soldier who confessed to war crimes in August 2022, other soldiers reached out to share more stories from the frontlines. IStories heard directly from dozens of Russian soldiers who want to leave the army. An estimated 700 soldiers from a single brigade are threatening to walk away.
El Pitazo, an independent news outlet in Venezuela that serves local communities across the country, came to ICFJ for help with diversifying sources of income. We provided the resources to hire a membership editor and an audience editor along with training and mentorship. As a result, their diaspora membership grew by 400%.
Now, El Pitazo is one of 18 organizations selected to participate in Elevate, ICFJ’s news business hub, launched under ICFJ’s It Takes a Journalist campaign. We are working with them to strengthen their brand, develop new products and gain a deeper understanding of their audiences.
“I think it’s very clear that world events have put us right in the center of what we’ve professed to be able to do – provide urgent support to journalists. And ICFJ is absolutely doing that with this campaign.”
– Rodman Moorhead, It Takes a Journalist Campaign Vice Chair
Dee Dee Reilly was among ICFJ’s most steadfast supporters for more than two decades and made journalism – and promoting truth – a priority in her philanthropy. To continue her legacy, Dee Dee’s children Anna, Sean, Kevin and Wendell Reilly have made a generous donation in her memory.
“ICFJ has done a lot of important work over the years, but now, with democracies around the world under the growing threat of disinformation, the work of ICFJ is more important than ever – and that’s why my siblings and I have decided to increase our support and make a meaningful commitment to It Takes a Journalist campaign.” Wendell Reilly, ICFJ Director and It Takes a Journalist Campaign Committee Member.
With your backing, we can help reliable, independent news media survive and thrive.We invite you to join us in securing a strong future for journalism