Simon Kelner: Foundation aims to put trust back into journalism

It was like being scheduled against the Christmas special of
Downton Abbey.

Share
Related Topics

 

It was like being scheduled against the Christmas special of Downton Abbey. There I was, live and unplugged, appearing at a House of Lords select committee at the very same time Piers Morgan was up before the Leveson Inquiry via a satellite link with the States. No contest. Say what you like about Piers – and most people do – he's usually worth listening to, even if it is just to confirm your own prejudices. At this point, I should say that I've known Piers for years and have found him an engaging and provocative companion. Certainly, I could understand why he played to a packed house at the Royal Courts of Justice, while the press benches were notably empty for my inquisition at the Palace of Westminster. I was appearing before a select committee inquiry into investigative journalism, a term I have always thought of as something of a tautology.

Most good journalism is investigative, requiring a spirit of inquiry to get to the truth. Also, the very nature of journalism is changing so rapidly these days that we need new terms of reference. For instance, there is an argument to say that everyone who has a mobile phone is a journalist. Are not those whose tweets fuelled the uprisings in the Middle East this year to be considered journalists? A piece of journalism can be 1,000 words in The Times of London or 140 characters from a bedroom in Benghazi. And is not the YouTube clip of the man throwing a foul-mouthed fare-dodger off the train hidden-camera journalism in the best traditions of Panorama? Except, of course, that many more people will have seen this footage than watch Panorama.

And all over Britain, citizen journalists like the IT teacher who filmed the brouhaha on the train are providing a valuable public service, reporting on local issues, posting footage of significant events, helping to increase engagement in politics. No one knows where this movement will lead, which is why every media organisation in the world is locked in futurological discussion.

I was at the select committee as head of a new charitable organisation called The Journalism Foundation, whose aim is to support and encourage journalistic initiatives which act in the public good. Thanks to the far-sighted and generous patronage of the Lebedev family – the owners of this newspaper – the running costs of the foundation are taken care of, so every penny we raise goes directly to a worthwhile cause.

I know this may not be the best time to promote journalism as a force for good, but at home and abroad, there are many, many examples of projects that act as an antidote to Leveson. For example, we have pledged to support training courses for journalists in Tunisia, where dozens of new publications have sprung up since the revolution, but where there is no tradition of free and fair journalism.

A free press is as important to civic society as an independent judiciary, and we are doing our little bit to help promote a democratic settlement in Tunisia. You know what's coming next. Go to our website – thejournalismfoundation.com – and make a donation. Every little bit helps, and you'll be able to see exactly where your money is going.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Digital Designer - Award Winning Agency

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity for a t...

Recruitment Genius: Project Manager

£35000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global provider of call ce...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service and Business Support Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: By developing intimate relationships with inte...

Recruitment Genius: Application Support Engineer - Software

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A small rapidly expanding IT So...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Punks show off the Doctor Marten boots as they gather in Blackpool for the annual Rebellion Punk Rock Festival  

Recalling my act of punk rebellion at school shows how different attitudes are today

Rosie Millard
A hormone released when someone is under stress or pressure has been found in breast milk  

Shaming women for being unable to breastfeed is wrong, and it needs to stop

Siobhan Freegard
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada