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Public Interest Journalism Foundation

The Public Interest Journalism Foundation was established in 2009 within The Swinburne Institute for Social Research at Swinburne University of Technology. The Board of the Foundation is composed of leading journalists, academics, new media innovators and community activists.

Why a Public Interest Journalism Foundation?

It is in everyone’s interests to have an informed and engaged community that is fair and equitable, progres­sive and accountable. Journalism and media that are independent and committed to community well-being are vital to this.

Public interest journalism is being challenged and threatened by rapid and fundamental changes in technology that alter the way in which citizens are informed, and threaten the business models that have tradition­ally supported journalism. Yet equally, the same technological changes hold enormous potential for both sustaining existing forms of public interest journalism, and exploring new relationships between journalists and their audiences. New media technology provides opportunities for communities of all sizes, locations and interests to better connect, engage and contribute to the public interest.

The Public Interest Journalism Foundation is about conversations, collaborations and experiments that will help identify and develop pathways that make a difference to the sustainability of public interest journalism, and therefore enhanced community well-being.

The Mission

The Foundation promotes and enables innovation in public interest journalism. It develops and tests emerg­ing models of journalism to inform an engaged and accountable society. Our guiding principle is public interest through knowledge development, collaboration and sustainability. We act with integrity, honesty, transpar­ency and independence.

PIJ Foundation- The First Projects

The Public Interest Journalism Foundation has announced that it will pursue three initiatives designed to promote journalism of public importance in the new media age.

The three initiatives are:

  • YOUCOMMNEWS – An audience driven commissioning mechanism
  • The NEW NEWS 2010 - A Digital News Media Expo
  • An Investigative and Public Interest Journalism Resource Centre


Margaret Simons, 'The Public Interest Journalism Foundation: Calling all hands', Crikey.com.au, May 13, 2010.

Melissa Sweet, 'Some news from the Public Interest Journalism Foundation', Crikey.com.au, May 13, 2010.

Elizabeth Redman, ‘YouCommNews: public interest journalism in Australia’, Editors Weblog, February 3, 2010.

Nick Evershed, ‘Crowd pleasers- a new way to pay for quality journalism emerges’, PANPA news, 18 January, 2010.

‘Journalism foundation reveals first projects’, Mumbrella, October 26, 2009.

Melissa Sweet (Interim Secretary of the foundation) provides her personal perspective on the Foundation for Open Forum in August 2009.

Margaret Simons, ‘The Foundation for Public Interest Journalism - Board announced’, The Content Makers, August 17, 2009.

David Cohn founder of Spot.Us provides some words of advice for the Foundation for Public Interest Journalism on Crikey in August 2009.

Judith Townend, ‘Q&A: Foundation for Public Interest Journalism in Australia- “Our focus is on getting the Journalism done”’, Journalism.co.uk, June 6, 2009.

Margaret Simons, ‘Public Interest Journalism – New Models’, The Content Makers, June 1, 2009.

The foundation received initial coverage in late 2008: Sally Jackson, ‘Experiment in community-funded professional journalism’, The Australian, December 1, 2008.

The Board

Announced on August 17, 2009, the Foundation for Public Interest Journalism board includes leading Australian journalists, publishers, journalism academics, community advocates and online media innovators.

Dr Margaret Simons is chair of the board, and Melissa Sweet is the secretary.

The board members are:

Prof Michael Bromley: Head of the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Queensland.

Ms Bronwen Clune: Director of Norg Media (http://www.norg.com.au/)

Mrs Elaine Henry OAM: Chief Executive Officer, The Smith Family,

Mr Gerard Noonan: Freelance business journalist, chair of Media Super, and active in the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors and the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees.

Prof Julianne Schultz AM: Founding editor of Griffith REVIEW, and a professor at Griffith’s Centre for Public Culture and Ideas, a member of the board of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the Arts Minister’s Creative Australia Advisory Group. 

Dr Margaret Simons: Freelance journalist, author and lecturer at Swinburne University, Simons has published seven books and numerous essays and articles over her 29 year career as a professional journalist.

Ms Melissa Sweet
Freelance journalist and author, with adjunct positions at University of Sydney School of Public Health and University of Notre Dame’s medical school (Sydney campus)

Prof Julian Thomas
Director of The Swinburne Institute for Social Research and Professor of Media and Communications at Swinburne University.