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Foundation-funded Journalism, philanthrocapitalism and tainted donors

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    Rights statement: © 2018 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)675-695
Journal Journalism Studies
Volume20
Issue number5
Early online date4 Jan 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Apr 2019

Abstract

Not-for-profit news organisations are increasingly funded by private foundations, supported by wealthy entrepreneurs. This raises a range of ethical dilemmas for journalists, which are particularly serious when their donors are alleged to have been involved in unethical or illegal activities.

Although this is a relatively common occurrence in the non-profit sector, so far there has been no critical discussion of these issues in relation to foundation-funded journalism. In this article, we interrogate a rich and detailed case study of the relations between a nonprofit news organisation and a donor accused of being involved in a massive, international fraud scandal.

We document how the news outlet justified their acceptance of this donor’s money; the defensive strategies they used to protect their reputation, organisational values and editorial freedom; and the conditions that ultimately led to journalists parting ways with the foundation. In so doing, we draw on ideas about philanthrocapitalism, stakeholders and resource dependence in order to develop Dunn’s (2010) model of how nonprofits respond to “tainted” donors.

    Research areas

  • donor, ethics, foundation, humanitarian, managers, news, non-profit, journalism, corruption

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