Friday, June 12, 2009

A Note on Public Commissioning, Again

What?

Public commissioning is a process by which the public directly controls the funding of investigative journalism. The principle is simple:

Public subsidies to journalism should be spent at the discretion of that public.

In public commissioning journalists write up and present proposals. They can vary in scale and scope from a few weeks to a few months, from the local to the national, from single journalists to teams. The proposals are also made available in printed form in the local library and online. The public can vote for the projects they want to support.

Why?

The existing commercial models for funding journalism are in crisis. Public money will be required if journalism as a civic resource is to survive. But existing state-owned and private media have not proved equal to the task of investigating the state or the dominant interests in the economy. Indeed it is clear that they are structurally unable to do so.

Public commissioning presents an opportunity for the public to gain the information it needs in order to be meaningfully sovereign.

Who?

Journalism needs more public money. The public needs more publicly oriented journalism. The deal that can be struck is clear.

When?

The time is right for a reform of this kind. The Coalition is now arguing for extensive cuts in bureaucracy. What could be more efficient than removing the editorial filter from publicly funded journalism?

How

A set of practical questions needs to be answered. It is clear that new technology provides us with the means to translate public preferences into funding for journalists. The devil is of course in the details, but this site is intended as a forum in which to work through those details and so deal with likely criticisms and objections.

Where?

The proposals can be discussed here along with other elements of a campaign of media reform.

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