The Public Interest News Foundation (PINF) has been awarded charitable status, following a decision that will “enable vital support to independent providers of accurate, politically impartial news”.
The Charity Commission has awarded the status to the PINF in what has been called a “significant development” for journalism and journalistic charities, the charity sector and the news-reading public.
The move comes in the wake of a House of Lords inquiry into the future of journalism and the Cairncross Review recommending that journalism should be recognised as a charitable purpose.
The new status will enable PINF to work with donors and support the future of politically impartial news providers that serve the public interest.
Jonathan Heawood, executive director of PINF, said: “Journalism is changing. Independent news providers are springing up all over the UK. They are serving communities with impartial journalism in the public interest. But they face huge challenges.
“This decision means we can ensure the public have access to high-quality, independent news, by supporting public interest publishers with grants, training and resources. We have already awarded emergency grants to publishers who were struggling during lockdown, and now we can support more public interest news organisations across the UK.”
The PINF added that the renewed recognition of charitable journalism is also a “significant development” in the charity sector.
Tom Murdoch, partner in the Charity and Social Enterprise team at Stone King, who advised on PINF’s charitable registration, said: “Whilst there are already a number of journalistic charities operating for educational and similar purposes, PINF is the first to be registered with a specific, ‘charitable journalism’ purpose.
“In legal terms, this represents a new interpretation of the law to recognise that public benefit journalism can be charitable.”
He added: “Misinformation forms part of our daily newsfeed and, at worst, can influence democratic processes. This recognition of charitable journalism by the Charity Commission means that PINF can now support, with new streams of charitable funding, journalism that is objective and non-party political.
“By definition, Public Interest News supported by PINF must be produced to high ethical standards, for the benefit of members of the public.”