Regulator approves charity status for journalism body

The Charity Commission has for the first time backed the creation of a charity set up to promote public interest journalism.

Public Interest News Foundation (PINF) applied to be on the register of charities in May and has been accepted by the regulator this week.

This is the first time that a charity set up to promote the public and charitable benefit of journalism has been registered.

The Charity Commission said that it accepted PINF’s case that it’s objectives are for the public’s benefit. This is to “promote the public understanding and knowledge of the principles and practice of investigating, reporting and disseminating public interest news”.

Citizenship

The regulator also accepted the charity has been set up “to promote citizenship and civic responsibility and encourage and facilitate informed participation and engagement by members of the public in their communities”.

“Journalism may be capable of furthering charitable purposes like the advancement of education, citizenship or community development, the arts, culture, heritage or science, or human rights,” said the regulator in a blog post earlier this year.

PINF executive director Jonathan Heawood said: “This decision means we can ensure the public have access to high-quality, independent news, by supporting public interest publishers with grants, training and resources.

“We have already awarded emergency grants to publishers who were struggling during lockdown, and now we can support more public interest news organisations across the UK.”

PINF charitable status advisor Tom Murdoch, a partner at law firm Stone King, added: ““Whilst there are already a number of journalistic charities operating for educational and similar purposes, PINF is the first to be registered with a specific, ‘charitable journalism’ purpose.

“In legal terms, this represents a new interpretation of the law to recognise that public benefit journalism can be charitable.”

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