Funding free media: new approaches to sustain the bedrock of democracy

Past event In Person & Livestream

Digital & Data Governance
Jorm Sangsorn

What happened?

A cornerstone of democracy, the freedom of the press empowers media to play a crucial role in informing and educating the public. Societies rely on the free press to hold abuses of authority to account; it is also a rampart against foreign interference and disinformation. Independent journalism empowers citizens to make sense of the world by providing accurate information and sharing diverse viewpoints. Alongside civil society, free media protect democracy and contribute to the development of a vibrant public sphere.

In recent years, the digital transition has transformed the economic reality that shapes the news industry. High-quality journalism is expensive, and sudden losses in revenue can threaten even the most credible organisations. The lack of sustainable economic models to support independent, pluralistic and free media threatens European democratic stability. New revenue streams need to be identified to ensure the financial viability of independent journalism across Europe. What innovative funding models exist to help media succeed? What role can philanthropic actors play to support a diverse, pluralistic media environment? How can the private sector support independent media, while ensuring editorial and managerial freedom of the press?

This event took place in Brussels and is also available to a wider audience via livestream. Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram or Facebook, and join the #FoEDebate!

Our events include photos, audio and video recording that we might use for promotional purposes. By registering, you give your permission to use your image. Should you have any questions, please contact us.

PHOTO CREDIT: Jorm Sangsorn/Shutterstock



Coffee reception and registration
End of debate


Ambassador Mark Gitenstein
Mark Gitenstein

United States Ambassador to the European Union

Show more information on Mark Gitenstein

Ambassador Mark Gitenstein is a lawyer who recently retired from Mayer Brown LLP, where he had served over the last 30 years as partner and counsel. Gitenstein has previously served as US Ambassador to Romania. He began his career with 17 years of service in the US Senate on the judiciary and intelligence committees, working for then-Senator Biden for 13 of those years. Since 2009 he has, either as ambassador or as counsel to NGOs and commercial clients, focused on preserving and fortifying democracy by ensuring transparency in equity markets, fighting corruption and strengthening the rule of law, particularly in central and eastern Europe.

Blethen Frank
Frank Blethen

Publisher and Chief Executive Officer of the Seattle Times

Show more information on Frank Blethen

Frank Blethen is publisher of The Seattle Times, the second largest newspaper on the United States’ West Coast and one of the country’s last independent and locally owned newspapers. Known for its strong local coverage and its aggressive investigative reporting, The Times has won 11 Pulitzer Prizes and has been a Pulitzer finalist 14 other times since 1982. Blethen is a strong advocate of the local free press system and active in pursing public policy for its preservation. Committed to independent journalism and family-owned businesses, he is an active participant in the national grassroots movement in opposition to newspaper and media ownership consolidation. He is also a longtime and passionate advocate for high-quality public education for all school children, across income and racial barriers. The Seattle Times and the Blethen family are known as strong advocates for diversity, inclusion and gender equity, and have continuously received significant local and national recognition for their commitment and leadership.

Alvarado Joaquin
Joaquin Alvarado

Founder of Studiotobe, Board Chair of Consumer Reports and Board Member of Techsoup Global

Show more information on Joaquin Alvarado

Joaquin Alvarado is a media and non-profit leader with over 20 years of experience in the successful development of innovative programmes and organisations. From strategy to sustainability, he has engaged in widely recognised initiatives in public service journalism. As the Founder of Studiotobe, Alvarado invests in finding and sharing stories that matter. Previously, he ran The Center for Investigative Reporting, the United States’ oldest and largest journalism organisation of its kind. He has also led large organisations to focus on the challenges pressuring journalists and impinging upon freedom of the press. He serves on the boards of Cityside, Consumer Reports, The James B. McClatchy Foundation and Techsoup.



Co-organised with


view all
view all
view all

the debate on

Track title


Stop playback
Video title


Africa initiative logo