Australian philanthropist donates $100m to journalism

Sydney will be home to a new journalism institute next year as part of a $100 million commitment to the profession from philanthropist Judith Neilson.

The Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas will encourage quality and evidence-based journalism through education and grants, as well as events to discuss the "big issues of the day."

Neilson will be patron of the institute; however she will have no direct role in its management or programs. It is purposely set up as an independent and non-partisan institution.

"As an avid consumer of news, I recognise the need to support evidence-based journalism and the pursuit of truth in an increasingly complicated and confusing world," she said.

"I know that traditional forms of journalism are going through massive change and Australian journalism and intellectual life needs a shot in the arm.

"Journalism doesn't just need critics, it needs champions - people and institutions with the resources to help educate, encourage and connect journalists and their audience in pursuit of excellence."

The philanthropist, widely known for her collection of Chinese contemporary art, will look to experienced journalists and other experts to manage and guide the institution's work. She was previously married to Platinum Asset Management co-founder Kerr Neilson.

"Through targeted funding and education we can strengthen Australian journalism and help restore faith in its central role in a healthy democracy," she said.

The institute will be based in a newly-renovated building in Sydney suburb Chippendale. Neilson purchased the building and is making it fit-for-purpose as a media hub and events venue.

She added one of the institute's early priorities will be to support more reporting on Asia, and to help journalists engage more closely with their peers across the region.

The institute will also be governed by an experienced board of directors and supported by an international advisory council. Work has commenced on a detailed program of activities and design for the institute ahead of its launch next year.

It will also aim to collaborate with existing journalism schools and news organisations and act as a venue for debate about how best to report on the region, as well as on the key policy issues facing Australia.

A global search to identify key staff, including the founding executive director, has started this week.

Read more: Judith NeilsonJudith Neilson Institute for JournalismKerr NeilsonPlatinum Asset Management
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