Lebanon Media Recovery Fund
Summary of the Lebanon Media Recovery Fund launched by the Samir Kassir Foundation (Skeyes), as well as funds established by Facebook and IWMF.
Launched by: Samir Kassir Foundation (Skeyes)
Funding to date: USD 739,000
To respond directly to immediate needs but with a focus on laying the foundations for a “stronger media sector tomorrow”. The fund is structured to support the following pillars:
- 1.Medical support to wounded journalists, including longer-term needs, such as physiotherapy, prosthetics, medicine and medical equipment, especially those who may not have the right insurance.
- 2.Equipment, in case of damaged laptops, cameras, transmitters. This support would primarily go to freelance journalists and, on a case by case basis, to media organizations.
- 3.Work environment, in case of damaged offices.
- 4.Trauma and psycho-social support.
- 5.Investigative work. We believe that we cannot go back to the pre-August 4 media landscape, which was mostly complacent towards those in power, avoiding verifying key information, to look into data and evidence. Today, we have the moral obligation to push the media towards a more robust role in standing up to corruption. Our entire work will be driven by the belief that FREE PRESS SAVES LIVES.
- 6.Economic livelihood and resilience of journalists, to provide those in need with the support required to continue their work with dignity and encourage journalists to investigate, question, report and organize for better professional standards.
Speaking at the 26th October coordination meeting Ayman Mhanna of SKeyes said that the Lebanon Media Recovery Fund is "looking for a leap of faith from our partners”, adding that they are willing to send the money back to partners if they require the fund to operate programmatically with strict objectives.
The fund is “a demand-driven project, responds to clear needs expressed by journalists” adding that he wants to have “the flexibility to shift funding within six pillars."
The fund will operate with total transparency, according to Mhanna.
The only exception will be the names of recipients of psychosocial support and medical equipment, whose identities will be withheld for privacy reasons.
“The fund is based on a robust understanding of the reality of the ground, where local partners have developed lasting relations with the community in Lebanon, sound administrative and auditing practice, flexibility and thinking outside the project outside the project funding box because we need to be demand-driven.”
“The support should not only be focused on the short term. It should contribute to a stronger, more accountable media industry, that can contribute to the vital change that Lebanon needs. It doesn’t mean a media sector that is involved in politics, but a media environment that is better equipped to hold those in power to account, that can ask the right questions, develop its capacities to investigate and reflect citizens’ needs, and journalists who are better equipped to stand up to political bullying through better and more effective organizing.”
Mhanna is calling for international support in two ways:
- Firstly, for donors and partners to contribute to the fund;
- Secondly, for those who provide funds for media support, to agree to shift some of the money allocated in other projects towards this fund.
As of March 2020, $346,000 (40%) of the funds dedicated to the Media Recovery Fund had been spent.
At the Joint Coordination Mechanism for Lebanon meeting on 16 March, Mhanna reported the funds had been spent in the following ways:
This included education, tuition fees, car repairs, car purchases for those whose cars have been completely destroyed by the blast, house repairs, and housing loan support.
- Support to one journalist severely wounded by the blast (> $2,080).
- Health insurance to two journalists ($2,500).
- Support for the office equipment for five independent media outlets ($6,700).
- Printers and photocopy machines for three media outlets ($800).
- Cameras and filming equipment for two individual journalists and three independent media outlets ($10,500).
- Laptops and computers for three journalists and six independent media ($29,400).
- Signed three major investigative grants to further dig into the Beirut port blast explosion ($165,000).
- Developed searchable database resource hosted on a secure website for all investigative journalists, which gathers evidence, information and official documents published about the Beirut port blast to assist journalists in their investigations. ($7,800).
Related to psychosocial resilience, Mhanna announced a series of workshops for Lebanese and international journalists covering Lebanon. The workshops will be held in partnership with the Dart Centre in New York at Columbia University, the largest centre dedicated to trauma for journalists.
Nearly $166,000 has been committed to investigative journalism support for investigating some of the most sensitive issues in the country.
For the latest information on the fund visit: