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Photos: Roberto Ricciuti/Getty Images (left) and Joel Saget/AFP via Getty Images

Former New York Times CEO and BBC director-general Mark Thompson is teaming up with Filipino journalist and press freedom advocate Maria Ressa to spearhead a global initiative to support independent media outlets and journalists globally.

Why it matters: Around the world, authoritarians are taking more aggressive actions to undermine the free press, especially in light of COVID-19.

  • Thompson played an active role in combatting verbal attacks against the press from former President Trump during his tenure as CEO of The Times.
  • Ressa has faced cyber-libel lawsuits in the Philippines for her work and has been arrested multiple times. Ressa, who was named Time's "Person of the Year" in 2018, and press freedom advocates argue that the arrests and lawsuits are happening as a result of Rappler's critical reporting of the Filipino government.

Details: Thompson and Ressa will co-chair the board of the new initiative, called International Fund for Public Interest Media, beginning Oct. 1.

  • The fund will be managed by executive director Sheetal Vyas, a former international development strategist. A statement from the group noted that Vyas says the fund is looking to raise an initial sum of $100 million "to begin its support to media outlets in low- and middle-income countries from 2022."
  • The initiative is currently gathering startup funding. Its founding partners include Luminate, a philanthropic organization founded by Pierre and Pam Omidyar, and BBC Media Action.
  • Additional operational funding has come from Craig Newmark Philanthropies, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the National Endowment for Democracy, the statement notes.

The goal of the fund is to work with various stakeholders, including governments, corporations, Big Tech firms, development agencies and philanthropists to bolster independent journalism and press freedoms.

  • The fund will award grants from the money raised to "media in low- and middle-income countries at the regional level," under the guidance of an independent board.

What they're saying: “Fearless reliable journalism from independent media [organizations] is one of the essential pillars of democracy,” said Thompson.

  • “If you can make people believe your lies, then you can control them,” Ressa said. "That’s what authoritarians are doing and that’s why it’s so critical we have vibrant independent media in every country, to uncover truth and hold power to account.”
  • Ressa founded the Filipino news site Rappler in 2012. She has since become a strong advocate for press freedoms.

Go deeper: Press freedoms crumble as authoritarianism spreads

Go deeper

Oct 12, 2021 - Economy & Business

The Intercept wants more philanthropy in the post-Trump era

The Intercept Editor-in-Chief Betsy Reed

Months after Glenn Greenwald’s dramatic departure, the Intercept is looking to double down on its roots in accountability journalism by pursuing more donations from philanthropic donors and licensing deals and relying less on memberships, which have leveled off in the Biden era.

Why it matters: Greenwald's departure helped the outlet focus on investigations instead of opinion, longtime editor-in-chief Betsy Reed explains to Axios.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
3 hours ago - Health

FDA panel endorses shot of J&J booster for adults

Photo: Wolfgang Kumm/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Members of the Food and Drug Administration's vaccine expert panel on Friday unanimously endorsed a booster shot for adult recipients of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine at least two months after the initial dose.

Why it matters: The advisory committee raised concerns about a dearth of data to support their decision but ultimately decided to support an additional shot for those over 18.

Capitol Police officer indicted for obstructing Jan. 6 investigation

Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6. Photo: Brent Stirton/Getty Images

A U.S. Capitol Police officer has been indicted on obstruction of justice charges for allegedly helping hide evidence of a participant's involvement in the Jan. 6 riot.

Driving the news: Officer Michael A. Riley, 50, is accused of telling the unidentified participant, referred to as "Person 1," in the Jan. 6 riot to delete posts from Facebook, which showed them in the Capitol during the attack.