The Public Interest Journalism Foundation (PIJ) is about conversations, collaborations and experiments that will help sustain public interest journalism, and therefore enhanced community well-being.

The Foundation was founded in 2009 as part of the Institute for Social Research at Swinburne University of Technology. The Foundation has a broad brief to develop new approaches to journalism that “maximize and explore the applications of emerging media technologies”. This comes in the wake of major technological, economic and demographic changes which are affecting the viability of established media organizations.

In 2012, a decision was made to establish the Foundation as a stand alone, independent organisation. It is now based at the Centre for Advanced Journalism at the University of Melbourne.

Mission statement

The Public Interest Journalism Foundation promotes and enables innovation in public interest journalism. It brings together like-minded people from journalism, publishing, technology, broadcasting, education, government and the wider community to explore, develop and test new and emerging models of journalism that will contribute to an informed, engaged and accountable society.

Our guiding principles are:
• integrity
• public interest
• innovation
• honesty
• transparency
• knowledge development
• independence
• collaboration
• sustainability

The Foundation is currently pursuing three initiatives, each designed to promote journalism of public importance in the new media age:

• A Public Interest Journalism Foundation channel on Pozible.
This initiative aims to support crowdfunding for worthwhile journalism projects. The application form and further information is here.

• The New News conference
The Public Interest Journalism Foundation works with the Centre for Advancing Journalism at the University of Melbourne and other partners involved in organising the New News conference.

New News engages media industry professionals, start-up news ventures, bloggers, citizen journalists and the general public in discussions about new media and the future of reporting. This annual event has been held since 2010.

• Public events
The Foundation is involved in organising a series of Meet Up discussions, bringing together media professionals, citizen journalists and community members interested in journalism futures. Reports on these events are posted on our website.


Former projects


YouCommNews.com was launched as part of the New News 2010 Conference in September 2010. The website, which is now offline, was an experiment in audience driven commissioning of journalism, bringing  journalists and the public together without the necessary intervention of Big Media.

Modelled on the USA Spot.us site, the website allowed the funding of journalism by the public without the necessary intervention of big media organisations. Journalists pitched story ideas on the site, and asked the public to contribute towards their completion, while stories suggested by members of the public could attract support and lead to further investigation by one of the site’s participating journalists. The resulting stories were available for publication by anybody who wants them – mainstream, independent and online media, either freely or through the sale of publication rights.

YouCommNews was established with the help of grants from the Victorian Department of Innovation, Industry and Regional development, the ARC funded Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation, and philanthropic support from foundation sponsor, the Financial and Energy Exchange Group. Other donors included Professor John Langmore.

For more information on the Public Interest Journalism Foundation, contact Melissa Sweet at melissaATsweetcommunication.com.au