The creation of the Fonds pour une Presse Libre (FPL) was officially declared at the Paris prefecture on 14 August 2019, and subsequently notified in France’s official legal bulletin, the Journal Officiel, in its issue of 14 September 2019.
The fruit of a project uniting the co-founders and employees of the online journal Mediapart (see more here https://www.mediapart.fr/en/journal/france/020719/mediapart-guarantees-its-future-independence ) who joined together in an Association pour le Droit de Savoir (Association for the Right to Know’), the declared aim of the FPL is “to defend freedom of information, the pluralism of the press and the independence of journalism; to contribute to the protection of the right to know and the freedom to say, in the age of the digital revolution; to promote journalism of public interest, upholding humanist values, at the service of the common good and the equality of rights, and the rejection of discrimination and the refusal of injustices”.
Its Board of Governors held their first meeting on 12 September 2019. In accordance with the statutes (or articles) of the FPL, five of the board’s members were chosen “for their attachment to fundamental rights and notably the freedom and independence of the press”. The two other members of the board were appointed “from among the staff of Mediapart, and include one journalist”, while it is stipulated that “no-one exercising a general management and/or financial management post within Mediapart can sit on the Fund’s Board of Governors”.
Chaired by Michel Broué (a mathematician and university professor), the FPL’s Board of Governors is composed of Dominique Cardon (a sociologist and director of the MédiaLab at Paris policitical sciences school Sciences Po), Stéphanie Chevrier (a publisher and head of the publishing house La Découverte), Christine Lazerges (emeritus professor with the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and former president of France’s national consultative commission on human rights, the CNCDH), François Vitrani (managing director of the Paris cultural centre La Maison de l’Amérique latine), Renaud Creus and Jade Lindgaard (representatives of Mediapart staff).
During that first meeting of the board, the FPL established its immediate priorities, namely; the establishment of a code of ethics, which will be its code of conduct for the acceptance, management and distribution of funds that it will receive (donations from citizens or companies, together with tax deductions accorded by law to missions recognised a s being in the public interest); the constitution of a Strategic Council which will be tasked with studying project applications that are submitted to the FPL, and also with advising the Board of Governors; the recruitment of an executive director who will have the status of a permanent employee; the creation of an internet site which will ensure the total transparency of the FPL’s activities.
This period of setting up its organisation should allow the FPL to become operational from the beginning of 2020. In parallel, by the end of 2019 the FPL will have created a Société pour la Protection de l’Indépendance de Mediapart(SPIM), which is destined to provide an inaccessible sanctuary for the online journal’s capital, in order to ensure that its economic independence is irreversible.
Paris, 16 Septembre 2019.