Taken aback by the way “fake news” has wormed itself into mainstream political discourse, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar is pledging to fight misinformation and hate speech.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) will be among the independent and investigative media outlets that will receive funding from Omidyar’s coffers over the next three years.
According to CNBC, the ICIJ will receive up to $4.5 million to expand its investigative reporting. Other organizations that will receive funding are the Anti-Defamation League, the world’s leading organization speaking out about anti-Semitism; and the Alianza Latinoamericana para la Tecnologia Civica (ALTEC), designed to promote civic engagement and transparency in Latin America.
The funds will be provide through the Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm founded by Omidyar and his wife, which has so far committed more than $1 billion to nonprofit organizations, including a $220 million gift toward a government and citizen engagement initiative which aims to drive accountability and transparency in government.
“Across the world, we see a worrying resurgence of authoritarian politics that is undermining progress towards a more open and inclusive society,” said Omidyar Network Managing Partner Matt Bannick. “A lack of government responsiveness and a growing distrust in institutions, especially the media, are eroding trust. Increasingly, facts are being devalued, misinformation spread, accountability ignored, and channels that give citizens a voice withdrawn. These trends cannot become the norm.”
But the United States isn’t alone in these problems. Corruption scandals have rocked governments in Brazil and France, among other places, which have led to growing accusations against the mainstream media by politicians. As a result, fewer people than ever trust their country’s mainstream institutions.
“At a time when autocrats, demagogues, criminals, dodgy businessmen, and other shady characters are seeking to enrich and empower themselves at the expense of society, it is more important than ever that journalists can remain the world’s independent eyes and ears, and root out corruption and wrongdoing,” said ICIJ Director Gerald Ryle.