The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has written to Lord Justice Leveson saying that charitable status should be available to not-for-profit organisations that provide public interest journalism.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which has had its application for charitable status turned down twice by the Charity Commission, makes the call in a written submission to Lord Justice Leveson as part of his inquiry into the culture, practice and ethics of the press.
In the submission, the Bureau warns that a dwindling paying market has resulted in most media outlets pursuing populist subjects rather than public interest stories.
It says the Bureau, which was launched in 2010, has sought to redress this. However, it has been turned down for significant funding as it lacks charitable status.
The Bureau, which is not-for-profit, argues that viable civil society organisations, which do not seek to generate profits or create shareholder value, and do not wish to rely upon state subsidy, must be capable of attracting and accepting philanthropic support.
The promotion of investigative journalism is not a charitable purpose in itself; therefore, the Charity Commission has turned down two applications from the Bureau for charitable status.
However, the Advisory Group on Journalism and Charitable Status - co-chaired by the Bureau, law firm Bates Wells & Braithwaite and Wilkes - has urged the Charity Commission to publish detailed guidance on citizenship and public benefit that would aid a journalistic organisation seeking charitable status.
Earlier this year, the House of Lords Select Committee on Communications said investigative journalism should be considered a charitable activity. However, in written evidence to the Lords committee, the Secretary of State wrote that: “There have been no calls from the public or charity sector to recognise investigative journalism as a charitable purpose so…government is not currently inclined to legislate.”