Danielle Walker Palmour, Director of Friends Provident Foundation, explains how the Journalist Fellowship 2016 came about and why it is important for journalists to have a better understanding of the economic debates underpinned by the Foundation’s work in building long-term, resilient and ethical economies
Friends Provident Foundation is a small independent grant-making charity concerned with how money and financial systems might function to benefit our society – the Right Use of Money. This comes from our roots in the financial services and to Friends Provident Life Office, which worked with a range of partners to develop the first retail ethical fund over 25 years ago, called Stewardship. Our current programme – Building Resilient Economies – supports work to look deeply into how, following the crisis in 2008, we might be able to create an economy that focuses much more on building long-term value, taking account of environmental and social matters, and distributes capital and the benefits of activity more equitably.
In early October 2014 I attended a seminar with Lord Adair Turner hosted by Positive Money at the Royal Society for the Arts. The seminar was an exploration of macro-economic theory and the roles of money creation through credit and its toxic interaction with the housing market in the current economic environment. This has since been expanded in a book that was published earlier this week (6 October 2015): Between Debt and Devil: Money, Credit and Fixing Global Finance.
At the seminar, there were a number of respondents, one of whom was well-known journalist Zoe Williams of the Guardian. Zoe suggested that the understanding amongst journalists of the economics such as those touched on by Lord Turner was very low. The response of anyone to things they do not understand may be to adopt a cautious position; this is safer than to be supportive, as you may be asked to explain why. It is a human truth – particularly where communication is so rapid fire – that it is much easier to pick holes in things than to enthusiastically embrace new ideas.
An new Journalist Fellowship
At Friends Provident Foundation, we fund people to wrestle with tough, new ideas about how our economic system can be fashioned to be more responsive to social and environmental needs – and can be more resilient to shocks and shifts. To have a broad conversation across society and between the generations, this requires us all to have a better understanding of the economic ideas that underpin the current debate. If but a few journalists have any understanding of new economic ideas and approaches, we are all the poorer for it.
This made the trustees of Friends Provident Foundation think that a useful intervention we might make might be to support a Friends Provident Journalist Fellowship in new economic thinking. They wanted to run a competition to give a journalist a substantial amount of funding to really explore an economic idea of interest to them and to us, producing an accessible output to benefit a wide audience. See here for a link to more details.
Trustees will be judging entries received by 20 November and making announcements about the winner in January 2016.
You can follow Friends Provident Foundation on Twitter @FProvFoundation.