The Civil Foundation

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.

Civil Council

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

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; Global Chair of News at Twitter and head of CNN’s award-winning documentary unit.

Links: LinkedIn, Twitter

Emily Bell

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.

Links: Full Bio, Website, LinkedIn, Twitter

Sue Gardner

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.

Links: Website, LinkedIn, Twitter

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.

Links: Full Bio, LinkedIn, Twitter, Medium

Javier Moreno

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.

Links: LinkedIn, Twitter

Raju Narisetti

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.

Links: LinkedIn, TwitterMedium

Toyosi Ogunseye

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.

Links: LinkedIn, Twitter

Maria Ressa

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.

Links: Full Bio, LinkedIn, Twitter, Medium

Matthew Thompson

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.

Links: LinkedIn, Twitter

Foundation Staff


Vivian Schiller

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 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.

Ursula O’Kuinghttons

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.

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.