‘Panama Papers’ group among initiatives to benefit from Omidyar Network’s $100M commitment to address trust deficit

Omidyar Network is committing to tackle some of the root causes of the global trust deficit.

Philanthropic investment firm Omidyar Network increases support for independent media, tackling misinformation and hate speech, and helping citizens better engage with government 

OXFORD, UK (5 April, 2017) — Omidyar Network, the leading philanthropic investment firm established by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, today announced at the Skoll World Forum a $100M commitment to tackle some of the root causes of the global trust deficit.  The funding, which runs over the next three years, will focus on strengthening independent media and investigative journalism, tackling misinformation and hate speech, and enabling citizens to better engage with government on critical issues. The funding will support work across the globe.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the group behind last year’s Panama Papers investigation, will be one of the first recipients of this funding. ICIJ will receive a three-year grant of up to $4.5M USD to expand its investigative reporting.

“Across the world, we see a worrying resurgence of authoritarian politics that is undermining progress towards a more open and inclusive society,” stated Omidyar Network Managing Partner Matt Bannick. “A lack of government responsiveness and a growing distrust in institutions, especially the media, are eroding trust. Increasingly, facts are being devalued, misinformation spread, accountability ignored, and channels that give citizens a voice withdrawn. These trends cannot become the norm, and we must protect the principles of openness, participation, and accountability. These are the foundations of a healthy democratic society.”

Recent events, such as the UK’s debate on EU membership, the impeachment of Brazil’s President Rousseff, the U.S. Presidential election, and ongoing corruption globally, have eroded the public’s trust in institutions, experts, and the media.  An environment of misinformation, “alternative facts,” and “post truth” have taken their toll. The 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer found that two thirds of the 28 countries surveyed are now “distrusters,” meaning less than 50% of a country’s respondents trust in the mainstream institutions of business, government, media and NGOs to do what is right.  Additionally, Edelman found that trust in the media has declined sharply with media institutions being distrusted in 82% of countries.

Over the last ten years, Omidyar Network has supported independent media, investigative journalism, and fact-checking organizations around the world. Investees include Emmy-winning Insight TWI: The World Investigates, Innovate Africa, which works to improve the quality and impact of journalism in Africa, and Chequeado, Latin America’s first fact-checking site.

Stephen King, partner and global lead for the Governance & Citizen Engagement initiative at Omidyar Network, added: “A free and independent media is key to providing trusted information and critical checks and balances on those in positions of power. We are increasing our support for this work to ensure it scales and accelerates to keeps pace with the challenges society is facing. We are therefore delighted to provide the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists with a $4.5M core grant. This will enable the organization to expand its investigations and shine more light on the dark corners of society where power is misused, corruption facilitated, and trust eroded.”

Gerard Ryle, director of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, commented, “At a time when autocrats, demagogues, criminals, dodgy businessmen, and other shady characters are seeking to enrich and empower themselves at the expense of society, it is more important than ever that journalists can remain the world’s independent eyes and ears, and root out corruption and wrongdoing. But  more and more this kind of vital work is only possible in the non-profit sector. Funding from organizations such as Omidyar Network enables us to continue producing groundbreaking, nonpartisan investigative projects that have real and measurable impact on communities around the globe.”

The first organizations and initiatives to benefit from Omidyar Network’s funding are listed below. Further investments and grants will be announced in the coming weeks.

  • Alianza Latinoamericana para la Tecnología Cívica (ALTEC) – A project launched this year by Omidyar Network, Fundación Avina, and Avina Americas to support the development and promotion of innovative civic technology platforms to promote civic engagement and – in turn – improve democracy, government accountability, and transparency in Latin America.

  • The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) – founded in 1913, ADL is the world’s leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice, and bigotry. With seed funding from Omidyar Network, ADL will build a state-of-the-art command center in Silicon Valley to combat the growing threat posed by hate online.

  • The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) – A network of more than 190 investigative journalists in more than 65 countries who collaborate to report global issues including cross-border crime, corruption, and the accountability of power. Last year they famously exposed the Panama Papers; 11.5 million leaked Mossack Fonseca documents revealing offshore business entities linked to fraud, tax evasion, and international sanction evasions.

Today’s announcement builds on the $220M USD that Omidyar Network has committed over the last decade through its Governance & Citizen Engagement initiative to drive accountability and transparency of government.