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Journalism Foundation winds up after less than a year

Evgeny Lebedev, chairman, Journalism Foundation
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Journalism Foundation winds up after less than a year

Governance | Niki May Young | 14 Nov 2012

At the height of the Leveson inquiry, an apparent beacon of salvation was formed in the Journalism Foundation which promised to "add fuel to the engine of change in media", but less than a year later its closure has been announced.

Email and telephone contact to the Foundation have been cut off, and the charity hasn't posted a tweet or Facebook message since 2 November. But while the Foundation has communicated nothing via its own media, including its website, about its closure, the Press Gazette reports that the Lebedev family, which put up the initial £600,000 funding for the venture, has pulled the plug after the charity "found it 'very difficult' to raise outside funding".  

Evgeny Lebedev, who chaired the Foundation's board and is also chairman of the Independent and the London Evening Standard, was supported by Salman Rushdie, Jon Snow, Paddy Ashdown and Sir Menzies Campbell among others in his quest to sustain the principles of quality, free journalism.

The launch, in December 2011, was set in the context of the Leveson Inquiry which has unearthed a dossier of dark revelations about journalism practices, including phone hacking.

The Journalism Foundation website warns that currently "free journalism is under attack as never before". It offered funding to projects designed to "bolster democracy" and "use journalism as an instrument for public good" and supported projects in London, South Sudan, Tanzania and Tunisia.

The charity has reportedly advised that the funding secured by these projects would remain "unaffected" by its closure, and that the Lebedev family will continue to support worthy journalism-related projects through the Ledebev Foundation. 

According to the Press Gazette the Journalism Foundation had four staff, although only three appear on its website. Simon Kelner, former editor-in-chief of the Independent, acted as chief executive at the charity and was joined by Charlie Burgess, (former media editor at the Guardian) as managing editor; and Arion McNicoll (former assistant editor of the Sunday Times online) as website editor. 

Trustees serving under Evgeny Lebedev's chairmanship include Lord Norman Fowler, who has held a number of ministerial roles as well as eight years as a staff journalist at the Times; John Tusa, a former producer and radio and TV presenter at the BBC, and Baroness Helena Kennedy, a barrister, broadcaster and member of the House of Lords.

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