Clare Cook

Money under fire: The ethics of revenue generation for oppositional news outlets

This paper critically assesses the ethical challenges not-for-profit oppositional news outlets face when generating revenues. Both media in exile (out-of-country news outlets feeding independent information into the country of origin) and those in restrictive environments (in-country providing counter-information) often rely on media development funding to survive. Yet they are increasingly expected to diversify revenue as they wean themselves off grant dependency. As a result, tension arises between the necessities to generate revenues while continuing journalism in some of the most challenging environments globally. Building on empirical data, the author reflects on the ethical implications of three main revenue categories being used: grant funding, commercial revenues and donations. The paper finds oppositional news organisations are faced with a unique set of pragmatic challenges that prompts an ethical value set which oscillates between entrenched dependence on grant funding, commercial reluctance and commercial reconciliation

Keywords: exile, oppositional news, revenues, business, media development


Exiled media can no longer operate in the country relating to their content. Journalists operate in exile on a residency, refugee or asylum status and focus on getting news back in. News exists online, occasionally in print, or shortwave radio near borders, satellites or phone-in radio. They are often unable to return home due to danger or warrants for their arrest, and many have been abused, imprisoned or tortured. The sites can be blocked in-country, requiring a proxy server; offices can be destroyed and cyber-attacks carried out. Information providers in restrictive news environments are in-country news outlets often operating under the radar. They also face extensive legal and operational difficulties. Both kinds of oppositional news outlets share a desire to truth-tell, give a voice to their populations suffering war or oppression and foster informed citizenry. Most see journalism as a way to hold decision-makers accountable and disseminate inaccessible material. They have a bias to editorial and human rights backgrounds rather than business. While journalism often focuses on human atrocities and hard news stories, editorial checks on balance are limited. Often volunteers, they are sometimes unable to produce high-quality, objective journalism.

The second commonality is in the overall economic fragility of their existence. Many face a unique set of business challenges internally and externally (CIMA 2007; Nelson 2011; FOJO 2013). Production is required on limited resources far from audiences in different languages. Teams are often small and traditional commission-based sales roles are deemed ‘untenable’ as they generate too little. External to their outlet, the market and currency are often weak and the normal supply and demand of products and services is disrupted. Government agents and trolls disrupt interaction online; literacy and the purchasing power of citizens are low. Podesta (2009) identifies ‘soft censorship’ to include pressure by governments on commercial enterprises to advertise in certain media and not in others. Market distortions arise for many reasons: advertisements are controlled, sizeable retail chains closed, controls are imposed on who works with whom, cosy business relationships are developed including highly lucrative concessions in exchange for a ‘financially unsustainable pro-government media outlet’ (Loza 2015). Internet penetration is usually low with slow bandwidth and with readers risking arrest. It is also a challenge not knowing what the future holds: if and when a country will transition.

Given the operational difficulties and market distortions, it is significant that legitimate donor funding has emerged to support such media. An extensive landscape of international organisations, aid agencies, trainers, publisher associations and private foundations exists, providing an ever-widening range of assistance. However, as the media development sector has matured, media outlets have been increasingly warned to regard funding as seed and focus on sustaining themselves independently with business activity. Long-standing information providers such as Short Wave Radio Zimbabwe and Uzbekistan, for example, closed in 2014 due to lack of funding.

Evidence gathered to date shows these media use three main revenue types: most rely on grant funding, some earn income including advertising, sales, affiliate marketing and cross-subsidy from for-profit business ventures, and there is some evidence of private donations from individuals or through crowdfunding (Cook 2016). Of direct relevance, a consultation by non-profit organisation FOJO Media Institute (2013) looked at the sustainability of 14 independent exile media outlets. It found overall reliance on grant funding and only fledgling evidence of revenues (commercial advertising, selling merchandise and events), but a lack of impact from those initiatives on overall budgets. A lack of in-house business skills was a key challenge and doubts as to the likelihood of achieving full sustainability in exile were raised (ibid: 17). The quest for sustainability has itself been plagued by confusion of the word and also belies the immaturity and complexity of the markets externally in many of the most repressed countries. Parsons et al. (2008) map the barriers to media development including economic impoverishment, lack of stable monetary systems, poverty, media consolidation, and the cost of starting out, but stop short of gathering any empirical evidence.

While scholars have focused to date on the broad challenges in media development funding, there is little understanding of the economic pressures at firm level, far less the ethical value set developed as a result. This study advances the discussion by confronting the underlying power relationship between not-for-profit oppositional media and grant-giving institutions. It is especially appropriate given the relatively new pressures on these typically weaker media supporting free information flow to diversify revenues. A legitimate flow of grant funding exists to support media where external market and operational forces make such funding a necessity. This has led to a form of unethically entrenched and strategic dependence on grant funding. Commercial reluctance is also evidenced: for some, making any revenue from their journalism is seen as ethically dubious, with scepticism around commercial and donated revenues. For others, commercial imperatives have spawned increased reconciliation in operational economic matters, including the use of a specialist advertising network as an ‘ethical gatekeeper’.

Literature review

Since the United Nations Conference on Freedom of Information in 1948, open and transparent media have been recognised as important vehicles to address conflict, promote freedom of expression and contribute to political or economic change. Against a backdrop of neoliberal civil society (Kaldor 2003) supporting independent media through a non-profit sector has also gained prominence with the UN good governance agenda (Wilson et al. 2007). It is difficult to unpick clear estimates of the amount of money dedicated to media support as it is often part of generalised democracy and governance portfolios (Deane 2013) and actions often result in a lack of close donor coordination (Fuchs et al. 2015). This can be due to the wider political (Alesina and Dollar 2000) or trade interests (Berthelemy 2006) that lead to a ‘flavour of the month’ syndrome (Nelson 2011). Cauhape-Cazaux and Kalathil (2015) note that many governments shy away from any kind of media support because it is seen as too sensitive.

While there is no universally accepted definition of media development, media for development, media assistance nor independent media, the normative assumption is that activity should support media systems that promote freedom of expression, plurality and diversity, strengthened media capacity, and professional training and skills development (GFMD 2008). The logic has been creating external pluralism through different media companies operating in one country to build democracy, assure access and voice to citizens. Scholars have explored how media can raise awareness and affect accountability (Bratic 2006; Becker 2011), and freedom of the media is highly correlated with broader political freedoms (Karlekar and Becker 2014). Although the effect is arguable, reductions in restrictions on journalists can have a positive impact on corruption (Brunetti and Weder 2003; Chowdhury 2004). On the face of it, media development responds to challenges through an integrated model of support to tackle a deficiency of business skills, lack of market data and increasingly audience research (Foster 2014).

Which media funding models are most appropriate, however, is much contested. Promoting external pluralism via private media, funded by traditional choice-driven advertising and sales revenues, is questionable, given the current flaws and crisis in the ‘free market’ model (Peters 2010; Higgins 2014). Instead, low- or no-interest loans, public funding or subsidies are more likely to support quality, transparent media systems. Research in emerging markets suggests ‘high levels of competition in markets with limited advertising revenues may lead to poor journalistic performance’ (Becker et al. 2009). Rather, if it is accepted that media play a role in democratic society – and a policy briefing by the BBC Media Action highlights the ‘urgent relevance’ of public service media in fragile states (Harding 2015) – it could follow that this public good should receive public support or some form of subsidy or funding intervention. But donor funding can create a cycle of dependency undermining efforts to earn revenues. Reviewing the impact of donor media assistance in sub-Saharan Africa, Myers (2014) finds that it has, discouraging movement towards advertiser-funded high-audience content. Either way, according to Berger (2010) ‘there seems to be an underplaying of business aspects and sustainability issues as a necessary feature for rendering a particular mediascape “developed”’.

Most recently, grant organisations have moved away from funding media directly in favour of tiered support across development stages, projects or initiatives. According to media NGO International Press Centre: ‘Media centres will have to creatively think of rendering services for which they could receive payment so as to be able to meet aspects of their operational costs’ (CIMA 2007). Equally, members of IFEX, the global freedom of expression network, reported it had become ‘strikingly more difficult to obtain funding for their work’ (Becker and Vlad 2009). FOJO Media Institute ended a three-year programme to support exile media in 2016. At Open Society Foundations the sort of journalism being practised now drives funding decisions rather than political conditions of a country.

Previously they felt maybe they received grants simply because they existed and their work was important. Now they have to improve, get grants to perform better, to increase their impact on audiences. Many of our partners, after the initial shock, came to grips with the new reality and surprised us with great ideas. So the aim is really to make our partners stronger, improve their ability to be independent and survive the challenging market place and explore alternative digital business models (Ronderos 2015).

In response, some oppositional news outlets are attempting to diversify their revenue. While a precise typology of exiled and restricted media does not exist, they share characteristics with non-profit charities that seek to prioritise a public service mission more than for-profit revenues. This resonates with the investigative Latin-American journalism non-profit sector (Requejo-Aleman and Lugo-Ocando 2014). In some cases there has been piecemeal success: in digital inclusion projects in India, South Africa and Brazil (Madon et al. 2009) revenue successes were managed around donations, or partnerships with NGOs, but otherwise long-term indigenous revenue streams were difficult to find. A study of 35 independent media, some of which were in repressive regimes, identified four main challenges being faced by news producers: editorial, business, distribution and security. Innovation in business models occurs separately from content innovation (Robinson et al. 2015).

These pressures produce a new set of pragmatic and ethical challenges: independent media cannot exist without a viable business model (LaMay 2006) yet this creates a tension between information as a public service and operating a sustainable business. In a modern digital landscape, capturing readers without neglecting journalistic values is a recurrent tension. For some the ethical concern lies with private funding and the risk of bias, where company interests may feature more or less prominently in news agendas (Barnett and Townend 2015: 175). For others, the interests of audiences and advertisers are considered when selecting news (Beam 2003). Exiled media are not alone in having to gain readers, be more discoverable or make news more engaging (Batsell 2015). Some outlets have developed more light-hearted news stories (lifestyle, popular content or human interest) particularly to appeal to younger audiences (FOJO 2013: 22). In such a case, McManus (1992) would justify the strategy given the fragility of oppositional news: ‘Only when profits are too small to sustain the news organisation are decisions to subordinate journalism norms to profit norms ethical.’

For individual journalists, economic necessities create conflicts between the ideal of independence and the need to pay production costs. There is a tension of loyalties: to those who pay you, your own values and your readers (Shrader 2011). In fragile states, this can become self-censorship for job security (Loza 2015). Sullivan (2013) urges local assessments of ethical behaviour when looking at investigative journalism in emerging democracies. Podesta (2014) finds that business journalism can thrive in repressive regimes because economic stories seem to be ‘viewed as less threatening’. Discussing journalists’ ethical duty to seek independence from economic pressures, Martin and Souder (2009) frame editorial independence as a matter of degree, proposing ‘interdependence as a guiding principle for media ethics’. It is widely acknowledged that many journalists find business-related policy and entrepreneurial practices and content difficult to accept (Sylvie and Witherspoon 2002; Pekkala and Cook 2012). However, none of this directly confronts the ethical considerations for oppositional news outlets created by scarce resources and flawed markets.

Research method

The findings are based on further analysis of empirical data from semi-structured interviews and a discussion group between December 2013 and 2015. It includes 23 non-profit media in exile or restricted environments producing content to reach Tibet, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Sudan, Syria, Iran, Burma, Uzbekistan, Sri Lanka, Russian Caucasus, Eritrea, Azerbaijan, central Asia, Turkmenistan and Belarus. The media outlets were all groups or organisations producing content independent from, and alternative to, state-controlled media and were mixed format: online media, broadcasting, shortwave radio, satellite and phone transmission. The sample was selected from grantees working with three philanthropic, non-governmental donor organisations. More systematic sampling was not possible, as no listing or database exists. In a new research field such as this, data gathered in this way is still valuable. The aim was to offer comparability by detecting ethical value sets in income-generation and revenue by a range of media. Anonymity was agreed to assure the participants’ safety, yet common factors were drawn out to preserve analytical relevance. Exiled editors who choose to live in a more open market area and supply content exclusively to the diaspora community were not included. Nor does the research include journalists who may be in exile but who work for large, government-sponsored organisations. A further ten semi-structured interviews with project managers from donor organisations, project coordinators or consultants working in the field were carried out. These were conducted to document reflections on ethics relevant to the sector more generally.


Grant income and donations a necessity

Of the 23 cases included here, grants were substantial revenue or a way of launching in all cases. This is unsurprising given the sheer scale of media assistance funding historically. Grant income was seen as necessary where other revenue streams were impractical. Many in-country advertisers (advertisers who are based in the country where content is being served) will not advertise on oppositional sites for fear of repercussions and there are few opportunities for out-of-country adverts (such as banks or universities represent a product or service available beyond the country). One broadcaster covering Azerbaijan said: ‘We are trying to plant a tree in a desert.’ Sponsorship and sales are rarely appropriate, particularly for an outlet covering Turkmenistan: ‘Selling merchandise would be ridiculous. People are not going to wear a T-shirt in the country where even the website is locked and you have to use a proxy service to read it.’ Where content is particularly traumatic, advertisers do not want to be associated. ‘One early decision was to get advertisers but we got no one because they said it would reflect badly on them because of the content.’ A site covering the Caucasus said: ‘We write about disappearances, tortures, the hardest stories on human rights violation, and advertisers do not want to be associated with that.’

Private donations (via microdonations or a fundraising campaign supported by individuals) presented complex operational challenges based on safety and infrastructure. Most of the cases made very little from user donations. They considered it impractical to ask for donations from readers. One Sri Lankan outlet said alternative secure payment systems would be needed: ‘Everyone lives in fear. I got a few messages that someone wanted to send money to me directly but I was afraid as [the government] will see their official data.’ More generally, banking was problematic for underground organisations. A Zimbabwean site said: ‘We would have to move into mobile payment more seriously, for example using EcoCash (a Zimbabwean mobile payment solution). However, it is quite onerous to get an account. You need to be selling things as an individual or company.’

Even the most advanced editorially led initiatives typically generated only a fraction of the overall budget from donations. One site said: ‘The Syrian diaspora is exhausted financially but they would not support the media when people are dying from hunger. Fundraising does not make sense at this time.’ Another in Asia said apathy was a major obstacle: ‘We are the only website like us but there is a very passive attitude. [They are] not very politically active and not conscious and take everything for granted.’ In-country audiences also have far more pressing concerns. They are poor and spend all their resources sending money home for people to survive so it is largely seen as unethical to ask them. ‘Syrians prefer to give to charity and people who work in relief.’

For some, grant funding was the way to achieve distance from editorial influence. One site developing coverage of Uzbekistan said: ‘Donor funding is clean and ethical. As I am not influenced by them and they don’t influence my editorial policy then it is OK.’ One consultant noted: ‘For them it feels as if making any money is corruption. They worry money means influencing stories and believe the newsroom can’t touch the money.’ A mistrust of commercial income comes in part from corruption in-country. Corruption was also taken into consideration when deciding on donations as a revenue stream. One editor considering a new operation highlighted the concern over control: ‘With crowdfunding there can be money that I don’t want from people. There are oligarchs who quarrel with the president, they go abroad and finance journalism. I would be worried. People from my country are not so developed to think they just give you money. They will see that you will satisfy their interests; it would be conditional.’ Concerns were raised that private donations are not transparent. One media outlet said: ‘If the economy reaches a certain level then everyone wants to have one media behind them so you can have big businesses and support, almost like a hobby.’ One expert in exiled media said: ‘There is just as much if not more of an ethical question because it is not someone with a product to sell, just someone who wants to exert influence.’

For media in the most repressive environments, generating any sort of revenues based on atrocities or people struggling was seen as ethically dubious – making grant income an assumed necessity. Earning revenues would deter audiences and be against their editorial mission to spread content as widely and as freely as possible. There was also a sense among some that audiences would no longer support media if they were earning revenues. One Syrian journalist said: ‘We will lose credibility if we earn income. They are listening to us exactly because we are struggling and non-profit. If they felt we were making money out of it they would lose faith.’ Several sites said advertising would detract from the overall appeal of the site, or would irritate the audience.

A form of unethical grant dependency

This reveals an underlying tension over whose responsibility it is to fund such media, and how best to maximise funding opportunities. One media covering Syria said: ‘We know how to do proposals and do donors but they always have strict conditions that apply.’ There was also concern that countries and issues become ‘increasingly less attractive’, affecting the likelihood of grant support. Another said: ‘We have two types of partners. Some are important strategically and can lobby on the EU front. Others are less committed. Overall it’s influence plus money.’ Representatives from the grant community highlighted frustrations. One project co-ordinator assessed target audience size, journalism quality, and content distribution in-country before allocating grants. He said: ‘I expect them to try. I don’t like it when they just complain about grants not coming. There is some frustration because they should be able to sustain themselves. I expect some of them to make some revenue but not that they should be sustainable.’ Despite media ownership and financial transparency being a starting point ethically (Foster 2012), grant sources were not declared in the cases here, a significant marker in the risks associated with media development funding.

Grant funding becomes more contentious when it has the unintended effect of distorting media outlets’ focus, and in some cases creating dependency. One covering Iran said: ‘You must be very professional almost full-time to work for a strategy on how to do donations.’ One outlet described how they accept work that may not be core editorially – simply to fit in with grants. Others have made grants the core strategy. A Syrian outlet made grant-bidding a business goal: ‘We have looked for sources of funding that have renewal or re-funding so chosen the relationship carefully. Grants are part of our strategic thinking.’ Grant income has become part of exiled media DNA, notably for one in-country Zimbabwean site: ‘Grant income is the one we have experience in and that feels more efficient than moving into less known spaces. We write a proposal and then shop it around. So the solution is to make the grant model less efficient and the other models easier to contemplate. We have years of experience in donor funding and almost none around the other revenues.’

This echoes findings by LaMay (2007: 55) where media adapt to the media development resource market by either becoming donor-driven, or by proactively developing services and outcomes to the funders whose rationale depends on delivery in these areas. Pragmatic tensions arise as funds are often restricted against specific budget lines. A grant project coordinator commented: ‘It is not a light switch that suddenly when the donor money runs out they will be self-funded. They lack business and financial skills to survive and succeed. Once people start giving out money it’s hard.’

Commercial reluctance

Many of the sites expressed commercial reluctance to generating revenues as it was perceived to be too difficult. One said: ‘There are doubts and scepticism in us not to make money. We see that it is never going to be significant contribution to the income so why should I bother.’ Another said their target audience was too disparate, and their broadcast time too short to be of value to advertisers. There were also concerns about time: ‘When in exile, so much time is already spent keeping afloat there is no time to do money.’ Some talked of re-educating audiences to be more open to paying for content. Others felt that commercial activity was incompatible with their mission. ‘[Earned revenue] is not part of our business strategy because our roots are editorial. Our idea is to share censored information in the best means so we can’t capitalise; it would contradict.’

Resistance against earning revenues is a source of tension among consultants. One noted: ‘Most are more on the activism side. They don’t find the money generation as a value activity. They believe advertisers have a pressure point on them. They feel a dollar in ads is polluting their mission. They don’t see a legitimacy in delivering audiences to advertisers and accepting a payment for that.’ Another advertising expert said: ‘It is simplicity of not having to be sales person. This is much more an argument of convenience. Blocking all ads is too broad brush. There’s always a way to do it that is tasteful and ethical. There is a lack of knowledge. It’s more that it suits them to say that rather than them having considered the question of ethics.’

Reconciling commercial imperatives

Practitioners increasingly accepted that some revenue generation independent of grant funding was of benefit. There was evidence of a range of earned income in the sample (display, banner, Google Adsense online advertising and an advertising network), although earned income was often in limited amounts. There was much variance in the ethical values towards revenue generation for the news outlets included here.

Three sites used a specialist-advertising agency for fragile states. It works by pooling advertising inventory into one global network of standard advertising formats and sizes. The network carries out due diligence on advertisers and has ethical guidelines. Some publishers found that having the advertising agency separate by name, domain and organisation helped them maintain ethical operations. A director notes: ‘We help the publisher to avoid that kind of editorial influencing that some might seek to gain. If we are running all the ads we can screen it. We can run sponsored content because we are separate from the publisher so it takes the headache away. We are the ethical gatekeeper.’ In previous studies exploring niche-subject journalism, news outlets have been found to worry about seeking direct sponsorship due to perceived conflict of interest (Nolan and Setrikian 2014). Three sites listed problems generating revenues from syndication, as many larger media take content without appropriate credit. One outlet covering Azerbaijan said: ‘It is unethical that lots of large media companies take our work without crediting us.’

Some were evolving their value set to accept more soft content to bundle with harder news stories, or to refocus material, in order to generate revenues. An Iranian site said: ‘If it is culture and softer news in separate sections you can make money from that. It is very humanistic and we cannot be ashamed of it.’ Others were more open to advertising revenues. In the Russian Caucasus, one of the biggest advertisers is a phone provider. ‘The region is important for them because the site can offer large audiences.’ One site covering central Asia has shifted in mentality to become a ‘normal business-orientated media’. The editor said: ‘When we started, commercial revenue was an optional extra but now [grant] funding has been removed there are other ways. We just tried and it has opened my mind to how I want to develop my website. I am interested in commercial not just to write a good story. I want a bigger audience; then I will have more clicks and I will earn more. It is good motivation and good journalism. We had it in our minds we are in exile everyone hates us but no one will complain about Google Ads. It is normal now.’

There was widespread knowledge among the cases that private donations, microdonations (such as a ‘donate here’ button on a website) or crowdfunding were a step towards income generation. Two sites had run successful crowdfunding campaigns around specific projects. One mobilised a large social media campaign to secure donations around major European cities. This generated $40,800 mainly targeting middle-class audiences for the broadcasting of information to Azerbaijan. In the Caucasus, an initiative generated around $50,000 over ten months; however, it was ‘very complicated and it took a lot of time’.

Media were reconciling the advantages associated with limiting grant reliance. One Uzbekistan media outlet said: ‘With donor funding you can’t use their money for marketing or for commercial purposes to generate more money.’ For a Belarusian outlet it was the same: ‘Grant-givers don’t want you to have people supported that are not content providers and be paid from the donor’s budget.’ FOJO Media Institute’s project coordinator noted at the end of a three-year programme to support exile media:

There has been a marked difference in attitudes in the last year. At the beginning of the project, there was a feeling that asking partners to generate revenues made them feel as if they might have to prostitute themselves. Perhaps it was part of the reliance on donor funding without any real thinking of what that would do for them. There are now more ideas and more thinking about the future on their own terms. There was a thinking that to make any money they might have to compromise their values but now they are more ready to reconcile that somehow if they want to continue.


Overall, oppositional news outlets are tailoring their ethical checklist based on shifting goal-posts. The paper finds that non-profit oppositional media are faced with a unique set of pragmatic challenges as they wean themselves off grant dependency. Perspectives shift between commercial reluctance and commercial reconciliation, all the while grappling with the legitimisation of grant funding. A priority was to remain independent and avoid economic corruption, associated with buying editorial control or lack of transparency from bribes or donations. This was expected despite a lack of transparency in what funding is received from whom.

From the cases here, reliance on grants is particularly entrenched and strategic. There are power relations and tensions between grant organisations, consultants and grantees. Despite warnings and efforts on the part of donor organisations to prepare outlets for funding changes, many are economically fragile. Overall grant funding is seen as ethical when approached from the perspective of necessity: where market forces prevent other revenues, and as a way of achieving distance from corruption or editorial control. Grant income is further justified where commercial activity compromises editorial values. Soft control in terms of spending restrictions, and media outlets altering their editorial priorities or projects to fit grants, have not featured heavily in driving emerging value sets. While grant organisations have complex criteria for allocating funding, this is at least in part based on size of audience and quality of production, which are also factors likely to affect earned income potential.

However, with income generation a more pressing concern, several outlets are now reconciling new pragmatic and ethical frameworks. An advertising network was seen as the most ethically robust as it acted as an ‘ethical gatekeeper’ between commercial and editorial operations. Others were attempting to diversify content production into soft stories in order to be more ‘advertiser friendly’. Crowdfunding was a revenue source in two cases around a specific project with a campaign aimed out of country. Overall attitudes to commercial revenue-generation are shifting.

This paper offers a glimpse into ethical concerns of revenue generation for non-profit oppositional news outlets. It was not possible from the approach taken here to accurately contextualise whether wider funding changes represent commercial diminution of these publication’s role, or indeed reflect shifting complexities in the identity of what oppositional news media are in an ever-more fragmented information space. Nor is it possible to assess any correlation between funding models and broader impact measures. Further consideration should include the ethical development and corresponding revenue potential of new distribution channels.


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  40. Requejo-Alemán, Jose and Lugo-Ocando, Jairo (2014) Assessing the sustainability of Latin American investigative non-profit journalism, Journalism Studies, Vol. 15 pp 522-532
  41. Robinson, JJ, Grennan, Kristen and Schiffrin, Anya (2015) Publishing for peanuts: Innovation and journalism start-up, Open Society Foundation. Available online at, assessed on 1 December 2015
  42. Ronderos, Maria Teresa (2015) Funders' perspective: Maria Teresa Ronderos, director, Independent Journalism Programme of the Open Society Foundations. Available at, assessed on 1 December 2015
  43. Shrader, John (2011) Being ethical when it's bad for business, Journal of Mass Media Ethics Exploring, Vol. 26, No. 1 pp 71-74
  44. Sullivan, Drew (2013) Investigative journalism in emerging democracies: Models, challenges and lessons learned, CIMA. Available online at, assessed on 1 December 2015
  45. Sylvie, George and Witherspoon, Patricia (2002) Time, change, and the American newspaper, Mahwah, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates
  46. Wilson, Mark, Warnock, Kitty and Schoemaker, Emrys (2007) At the heart of change: The role of communication in sustainable development, Panos. Available online at, assessed on 1 December 2015

Note on the contributor

Clare Cook is a senior lecturer in print and online journalism at the Media Innovation Studio, the University of Central Lancashire's media research lab. She lectures in the UK and in Europe on social media and its impact on journalism, having co-authored Social media for journalists: Principles and practice (Sage). She has co-authored a range of works looking at the revenue models of journalism start-ups globally, hyperlocal media in Europe and oppositional news outlets in fragile states. She is also researching the impact of media technology in restricted environments.