Why the Civil Foundation
Journalism is in crisis.
News organizations are struggling with financial instability, decreasing levels of trust and increasing budget constraints. In the US, 1,800 newspapers have gone under since 2004 and half of all local news reporters have lost their jobs. Meanwhile, the threats to journalists have increased. Seventy eight journalists were killed last year around the world with another 326 journalists imprisoned for their work in 2017.
The impact is not just on those who have lost their jobs – and lives – but on the citizens around the world who are deprived of the information they need to fully participate in society.
These are the challenges that have inspired us to act.
What is the Civil Foundation?
The Civil Foundation is an independent not-for-profit committed to the sustainability of trustworthy journalism around the world. It is founded on the principle that a free press is essential to a fair and just society, and must be supported by the public it serves. The Civil Foundation supports this mission via grant making to fund journalism innovation; advocacy for standards of journalism ethics; community-building among publishers and their public; and educational programming for newsrooms. It is staffed and supported by journalists and entrepreneurs with experience in media. You can learn more about us here.
The Civil Foundation supports journalism on a global level, with a primary focus on technology solutions. We are working in support of Civil, a community owned network dedicated to creating, sharing and supporting ethical journalism. Civil is not meant to completely replace existing business models, but rather to enhance them. The Civil network is made possible by blockchain technology which enables the network to run according a set of rules that the community controls, governed solely by clearly defined ethical journalism standards, known as the Civil Constitution.
The Civil Foundation is partnering with institutions that hold a similar vision of supporting journalism. It takes a global village.
Areas of Activity
Grant Making to Fund Journalism Innovation
The Civil Foundation will award grants to news organizations and other entities that provide foundational support for scalable solutions to newsrooms. We will also consider funding open-source technology development that supports news organizations. We’re looking to collaborate with media grant making organizations we admire and that share our mission. We’ll be soliciting feedback from the broader community on where our grant making can be most effective. In the broader spirit of Civil, we want this to be an inclusive and transparent process.
Support for Standards of Journalism Ethics
At the core of Civil is a document called Civil Constitution., a document that attempts to capture and define the values of ethical journalism as practiced around the world. Specifically, our aim is to memorialize the standards that the Civil community of newsrooms will embrace in their service to the public. The Civil Foundation manages this document as it continues to evolve over time and with the input of journalists and members of the public.
The Foundation also houses the Civil Council, an appeals review body comprised of renowned journalists and ethicists who will uphold the tenets of the Constitution as practiced on the Civil network.
The Constitution itself has been developed over many months, and is still a work in progress. Around 100 experienced editors, reporters and academics from around the world have provided input and other guidance. We sought input from members of the Civil Council and from journalists working at existing Civil newsrooms. And we sought and received input from the public via our Telegram channel, by email, over Twitter and in person.
Community-Building Among Publishers and Their Public
One of the aspects of Civil our early newsrooms have told us they treasure most, is a sense of community with one another. When you’re a small newsroom, it can be hard to know where to turn when you need some advice or a helping hand. Civil newsrooms do that for each other.
But the Foundation is bringing more than just that to the picture. We are also going to be offering support in the form of tools and services that newsrooms may need. In some cases that will come in the form of deep discounts to vendors in areas like analytics, crowdfunding, or CRM. But we’re also building out a portfolio of free tools that newsrooms can access.
Educational Programming for Newsrooms.
Civil is a global community where journalists can learn from one another. The Foundation will facilitate this environment of growth by providing educational programming for newsrooms that supports their sustainability and development in key areas: technology, as well as as business and editorial best practices. Programming can come in the form of webinars, articles and white papers, proprietary research, in-person convenings and others.
The Civil Council is the governing authority within the Civil protocol, whereby token-holders can appeal a decision for review. The Civil Council has the ability to overturn community decisions, but the community in turn has the power to veto the Council through a supermajority vote.
Vivian Schiller heads the Civil Foundation, which upholds the journalism ethics and standards of Civil, the decentralized marketplace for sustainable journalism, and makes philanthropic grants to news organizations around the world. Vivian is a long-time media executive who has served as President and CEO at NPR; Chief Digital Officer at NBC News; General Manager at NYTimes.com; Global Chair of News at Twitter and head of CNN’s award-winning documentary unit.
Emily Bell, founding director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism and a leading thinker, commentator and strategist on digital journalism. Prior to joining Tow, Bell spent most of her career at the Guardian in London working as an award winning writer and editor.
Sue Gardner, Canadian journalist, not-for-profit executive and business executive. She was the executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation for seven years. Prior to that she was the director of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s website and online news outlets.
Ellen P. Goodman
Ellen P. Goodman, professor of Law at Rutgers University, specializing in information policy law: free speech, media policy, privacy, data ethics, advertising and digital platform power. She is co-director and co-founder of the Rutgers Institute for Information Policy & Law, formerly a partner at Covington & Burling LLP, and advisor to the FCC.
Javier Moreno has over 20 years of experience in journalism. He served as the Editor-in-Chief of EL PAÍS from 2006 to 2014. In 2015, Moreno became a founding member and the director of the Leading European Newspaper Alliance (LENA), which brings together seven leading news organizations. Most recently, he was named director of the UAM-EL PAÍS journalism school and director of EL PAÍS Americas.
Raju Narisetti, Professor of Professional Practice and Director, Knight-Bagehot Fellowships at Columbia University. He was most recently CEO of Gizmodo Media group and held senior business and editorial roles at News Corp, The Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal. He was also the founder and editor of India’s business publication, Mint.
Toyosi Ogunseye is currently the head of West African Languages for the BBC World Services. Before that, she was the Editor of the Sunday Punch, one of Nigeria’s most widely read newspapers. Toyosi was the first Nigerian to win the prestigious Knight International Journalism award and she currently sits on the board of the World Editors Forum.
Maria Ressa, long-time journalist and now founder and CEO of Rappler, an online news organization based in the Philippines. She spent two decades at CNN as bureau chief and investigative reporter.
Matt Thompson is the executive editor of The Atlantic, overseeing all cross-platform projects. Previously, he led digital and vertical initiatives at NPR, where he directed news teams covering race, ethnicity, and culture; education; and global health and development.
CEO, CIVIL FOUNDATION
Vivian Schiller is a longtime executive at the intersection of journalism, media and technology. Prior to joining Civil, Vivian held a number of executive roles in the media industry.
She was the Global Chair of News at Twitter. In this role, she led the company’s strategy for news and partnership with journalism organizations and the news publishing ecosystem. Vivian was Senior VP & Chief Digital Office, NBC News where she led strategy and operations for the networks’ presence on the web, mobile, devices, and social media. Prior to NBC, Schiller served as President and CEO of NPR, leading all of NPR’s worldwide media operations. She was Senior Vice President and General Manager of NYTimes.com and Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Discovery Times Channel, a joint venture of The New York Times and Discovery Communications. Earlier in her career, Schiller was the head of CNN Productions, where she led CNN’s long-form programming efforts. Documentaries and series produced under her auspices earned multiple honors, including three Peabody Awards, four Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Awards, and dozens of Emmys. Schiller is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations; and a Director of the Scott Trust, which owns The Guardian. She allegedly live in Bethesda Maryland with her husband, dog and about 500,000 honey bees. But in reality, she lives on an airplane.
COO OF THE CIVIL FOUNDATION
Lillian Ruiz is COO of the Civil Foundation. She was previously COO of the Civil Media Company overseeing operations, finance and large-scale project execution.
In her previous capacity as Senior Director, Growth and Product Optimization, for InsideHook she converted the email business into a full-suite digital publisher, developed its audience development team and launched its content marketing arm. Prior to InsideHook, led the rebranding of New York cult favorite brands, Flavorwire and Flavorpill. While previously at the Girl Scouts of the USA, she led the organization’s first national social media marketing strategy, and digital user acquisition campaign.
Lillian is a graduate of Wesleyan University, with a BA in History. Outside of the office she is the lead singer and co-manager of probably the sickest cover band in New York City. Don’t invite her to your karaoke parties.
Nicole is responsible for supporting newsrooms on the Civil platform, including helping them thrive and overcome challenges.
Nicole has spent the past 17 years as a reporter and editor in New York City, including as a founding member and Managing Editor of DNAinfo, an award-winning news site that served readers in New York and Chicago before its closure in 2017. During her tenure, the site earned awards from the Deadline Club, New York Press Club and Newswomen’s Club of New York, among others. She also served as DNAinfo’s first Data Visualizations Editor, and oversaw breaking news as well as day-to-day newsroom operations.
Previously, Nicole spent eight years as a reporter at the New York Daily News, where she covered criminal justice, education and local, national and international breaking news. She holds a B.A. from Columbia University and is an adjunct journalism professor at the New School’s News and Narrative Design program and the Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY.
Ursula has worked in the media industry for more than 17 years. She began her career as a journalist at the Reuters news agency, the El País newspaper and Localia TV channel in Spain, and until recently did media outreach for El País . Currently Ursula is the Regional Lead for Latin America and Europe, building news partnerships and expanding Civil’s community of journalists.
Previously Ursula served as director of communications of Casa Sefarad, a cultural institution tied to the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. While there, she organized journalist encounters and co-produced a documentary with Sony Music Spain about Israeli and Palestinian youth in Israel. Ursula also co-directed TV programs for syndication under the aegis of Prisa Communication Group.
For the past six years Ursula has been immersed in the blockchain industry; she launched the first ‘Blockchain and journalism’ event in Madrid with the support of Hyperledger, BBVA bank and the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom. Ursula discovered blockchain when she attended a meetup in Phoenix five years ago while pregnant with her son. She’s based in Madrid, Spain.
Elena is responsible for designing programs for newsrooms that support their sustainability and development in key areas: technology, business, journalism operations, and ethics. She brings four years of experience in nonprofit management, public broadcasting and local media. Prior to joining Civil, Elena graduated with an MBA from NYU Stern where she focused on blockchain and data analytics. She has contributed to various grass-roots blockchain projects such as co-founding Blockchain Latinx and contributing to various social impact initiatives in Venezuela.
When she’s not attending blockchain meetups, Elena enjoys hosting elaborate dinner parties, finding undercover art events, and rewatching old episodes of Sesame Street.
How You Can Help
If you’re a newsroom: Please consider joining Civil. You can find out more here.
If you’re a person who cares about quality news and want to support journalism around the world, consider become a Civil member. Or you can simply make a donation to the Civil Foundation.
If you are an organization that supports journalism and wants to work with us, feel free to email us here.