The Charity Commission will organise a seminar to consider the issues around investigative journalism as a potential charitable activity, its chief executive promised yesterday.
At the Commission’s public meeting, Royal Television Society chief executive Simon Albury queried whether the regulator had responded to a request from the House of Lords communication committee in February of this year, to clarify whether investigative journalism could be charitable.
Commission CEO Sam Younger agreed that it was a “very significant issue” and that the Commission had had at least one application for charitable status recently from an organisation involved in investigative journalism – it was the Bureau of Investigative Journalism - which the Commission felt it could not grant.
But Younger said the Commission did intend to produce guidance on the topic, and that the first step would be to organise a seminar involving all those interested in the subject.
“We recognise the world changes very fast, that there are new needs and we need to keep up with them,” Younger said
“I’m not going to say we will have new guidance very quickly but we do need to look hard at the issue with our colleagues in the sector and outside.”
The Commission’s interim chair, John Wood, said that it would probably have to fall under the charitable purpose of advancing education, and added: “Education in a charitable sense requires objectivity, and quite how that would fit with investigative journalism, and how investigative journalism that was charitable would be conducted, raises quite a lot of issues.”