Monthly Archives: May 2024

Final call for Journalism Projects

The Bruce Jesson Foundation has supported independent Kiwi journalism for 20 years and is making one last call for projects to support before it winds up at the end of this year.

Established in 2001 in memory of the Auckland journalist and politician Bruce Jesson, has funded 16 ground-breaking journalistic projects that have made an impact on public awareness and debate in Aotearoa New Zealand since 2004.

It has also held 22 annual lectures since former Prime Minister David Lange, a personal friend of Bruce Jesson, gave the inaugural lecture in 2000, a year after Jesson’s death.

The foundation is calling for applications by 30 September for one final funding round for journalistic projects, and plans one final public lecture, but will wind up at the end of the year because of a lack of ongoing funding.

Foundation co-chairs Dr Maria Armoudian and Simon Collins say they are extremely sad that the journalism grants are ending at the same time as the impending closure of Newshub and drastic cuts at TVNZ which The Spinoff writer Madeleine Holden says have jointly slashed the already-dwindling number of Kiwi journalists by a further 15%.

“This is a very worrying time for journalism in New Zealand, which makes independent funders like the Bruce Jesson Foundation all the more precious,” Armoudian and Collins say.

“We are extremely proud of the work that the foundation has helped to make possible over the past 20 years. 

“The journalists we have supported have exposed aspects of our society and foreign policy that would not have come to light otherwise. They have sparked public debate, and in many cases have led to changes in government policy and business behaviour.

“However, unfortunately, we have never had a secure source of funding. We have had some funding from royalties from Professor Andrew Sharp’s collected writings of Bruce Jesson published in 2005, To Build A Nation, and we received a much-appreciated bequest from Wellington peace campaigner Diana Unwin, who died in 2014. But our only ongoing funding has been small donations from people attending our annual lectures and a handful of personal supporters.

“Our trustees have always been unpaid volunteers, and repeated attempts to find other sources of funding over the years have been unsuccessful.”

Bruce Jesson’s daughter Dr Linley Jesson, a Rotorua scientist and a trustee of the foundation, says the Jesson family acknowledges that many charities have a natural life cycle.

“Charities are set up to respond to a particular need, or to honour someone’s contribution, but needs change and what was a good idea originally may not be sustainable 20 years later,” she says.

“The Bruce Jesson Foundation has helped to shine a light on areas of Aotearoa New Zealand society since 2004. Now it is time for someone else to pick up the torch and help to sustain independent journalism in the future.”

The foundation seeks applications by 30 September for projects of “critical, informed, analytical and creative journalism or writing which will contribute to public debate in New Zealand on an important issue or issues”. The full criteria and a link for applications are on its website.


Dr Maria Armoudian

Simon Collins

Dr Linley Jesson