Media release: Scottish investigative journalism co-op secures $260,000 philanthropic grant


THE Ferret, the Scottish investigative journalism co-operative, has received a $260,000 grant to secure its future in the Scottish media landscape and continue its award-winning journalism that holds power to account.

The three-year grant comes from Luminate, a global philanthropic organisation focused on empowering people and institutions to work together to build just and fair societies. The funding has been awarded with the aim of ensuring The Ferret is able to take the necessary steps to become financially self-sustaining.

This has only been achieved with the support of The Ferret’s more than 1,700 paying members, who continue to fund the majority of our journalism through regular subscriptions.

In coming months The Ferret will hire a chief operating officer, and develop its work to support its growing membership base. It will aim to expand its award-winning investigative journalism with a full-time editor
role, part-funded by its members.

The investment comes at a critical time for journalism. The Coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc on people and jobs in the media industry, and good-quality journalism is more important than ever as false information circulates, surrounding the disease.

But while other media organisations are cutting pay and warning of redundancies, The Ferret will be making a series of new hires, and is increasing rates for all freelancers by nine per cent.

Karin Goodwin, chair of The Ferret, said: “The Ferret believes that good journalism changes things and that it has never been needed more than it is now. We are delighted that Luminate has such faith in our potential. This grant will help us to build The Ferret as a force to be reckoned with.

“Yet, while we are excited about the opportunities that this funding offers, our members remain the organisation’s lifeblood. We hope more people across Scotland, from all walks of life, will join us on the next stage of this exciting journey.”

Kitty von Bertele, Luminate associate, added: “We are really pleased to renew our grant to The Ferret, a journalism co-operative that punches far above its weight in the investigations it covers and the impact it has.

“We hope this grant will give them the opportunity to build on the excellent foundations they have laid over the last five years, expand their reach, grow their membership and enhance their role in holding the powerful to account.”

The Ferret was launched in 2015, and its small team of journalists have made a significant impact on Scottish politics and society. It has held the powerful to account; investigating the most important issues in Scottish politics. The platform has covered important, under-served issues in Scotland such as fracking, nuclear power, far-right politics, homelessness and asylum.

The Ferret’s journalism has instigated changes in law, highlighted under-reported issues of social justice, and forced prominent figures to correct their falsehoods.

Since its inception, the platform has published over 1,000 stories in the public interest. Many of these have been in partnership with media titles, including the Guardian, The Herald, the Daily Record, the Sunday Mail and the Sunday National.

In 2017, The Ferret launched the first Scottish fact-checking service, Ferret Fact Service (FFS), which has now checked hundreds of claims for accuracy, and is currently playing an important role in fact-checking
issues surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Ferret is committed to innovation in its work beyond journalism, exploring new ways of engaging with its membership and readers through its popular Facebook Underground project, which includes direct interaction with readers via Facebook and a weekly newsletter which combines the work of The Ferret with the best journalism from around the UK and beyond.

In addition, the co-operative promotes media literacy and journalism skills through our regular fact-checking and freedom of information workshops around Scotland. The Ferret has also developed an online training site where members and readers can learn some of the advanced skills which help
journalists to investigate.

Luminate was founded by The Omidyar Group, established by philanthropists, Pierre and Pam Omidyar. Pierre Omidyar is the founder of online marketplace, eBay.

The group’s global work has so far supported 280 organisations in 17 countries with over $360 million in funding, including UK media such as OpenDemocracy UK and The Bristol Cable.

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