Director, Media, Information and Journalism Program. London. Posting Date: 10/28/2019. Deadline: 11/27/2019
Open Society Foundations (OSF) has for two decades been a key funder in the fields of independent journalism and information and digital policy. In journalism, our commitment has been premised on the critical role of free, independent and trustworthy media for developing and sustaining open societies; OSF has provided support to independent journalists, particularly those working under censorship or suppression, and backed innovation to enable new models of journalism to thrive. On information, we have supported efforts to increase access to knowledge, helped build the field of digital rights, constraining surveillance and protecting privacy, and challenging powerful technology platforms and their use of algorithms in ways that undermine democracy. Today however, we acknowledge that information systems have changed dramatically and the digital public sphere is affecting independent journalism, OSF is now integrating its work in these areas into a single program.
The new Media, Information and Journalism Program will continue supporting the integrity of independent and investigative journalism as a crucial field for open society, while ramping up our work on digital platform governance and regulation, including the accountability of governments to curb platforms’ digital power. The new program will use grant making, advocacy, strategic litigation, research and knowledge-sharing to understand the implications of digital advances, address the interlinked challenges of regulating influential digital actors, combat political and corporate interference in independent journalism, and advance effective information policy.
While the overlap between our journalism and information work is significant and allows for new synergies, some distinct areas of work in both fields will continue. We will continue to work for the protection, safety and viability of journalism around the world, while in the information field, we are continuing work on digital rights and expanding our focus on machine learning and algorithmic decision-making, and their implications for democratic societies.
The Director of the Media, Information and Journalism Program will lead a team based in London, Berlin, New York and Washington D.C. and work closely with an advisory board to set direction for a new, integrated four-year strategy. The Director will know both the information and journalism fields, and bring deep experience and knowledge in at least one of them. They will understand the evolving issues and challenges shaping the digital media ecosystem, including how digital platforms intersect with government policy and business regulation worldwide. The new director will also be skilled at working within diverse cultures and contexts both internally and externally, since OSF is a network grant making in 140 counties and with staff and boards in 40 countries. Whatever their area of specialization, the successful candidate will be up to date on emerging trends in their field, knowledgeable about where valuable advocacy, action and research is taking place, bring a rich network of professional relationships from these fields, and a passion for defending and advancing open society.
The Director will build relationships with many other actors, including donors, to collaborate on projects and advance innovative thinking for journalism, and the agenda for information and media policy reform globally. The Director will also nurture internal collaboration for the program with other OSF foundations and programs working on these issues including through possible joint grant making and advocacy. The Director will act as the network’s leading representative for our Information and Journalism work globally and will travel extensively, contributing to maintaining our relationships in dozens of countries.
OSF puts the highest importance on building an inclusive, positive culture and the director’s leadership of their team is a key aspect of the role. As the most senior member of a team of varying experience and seniority, the director will be an excellent people manager with thoughtful and developed ideas about their role and responsibility as a manager. A member of OSF’s Senior Leadership Group, the Director of the Media, Information and Journalism Program not only leads the work of the program, but is also responsible for contributing to and strengthening the institutional, programmatic, and financial integrity of OSF as a whole.
Typical duties and responsibilities include the following:
- Design grant-making, advocacy and litigation strategies and interventions, appropriate to the specific context of the fields and geography in which they are implemented and taking account of team experience and capacity
- to tackle the deteriorating climate for independent media; enabling the growth of resilient journalism in a digital age, seizing opportunities at moments of democratic opening;
- to respond to massive asymmetries of power in digital publishing and other sectors and the associated risks for democratic systems, citizen participation and free flow of information/access to knowledge
- Act as OSF’s principal internal and external representative on issues of information and journalism, with a profile in public discourse on the shifting landscape of media through participation at conferences, interviews, publishing articles etc.
- Manage significant grants and operational budgets; balancing operational practicalities and resources with conceptual priorities
- Develop an empowering and inspiring environment for the program’s team, leading and managing with accountability and integrity
- Manage complex relationships of high sensitivity, including relationships with other OSF Programs, external organizations, OSF’s Global Board and advisory bodies
- The candidate must have deep first-hand experience in at least one of the following areas and a good understanding of the others:
- the creation and implementation of journalism that engages its audiences; demonstrated success in delivering or enabling the delivery of high-quality media with transformative effect
- the current media landscape and the relationship between freedom of information, quality of information and democratic practice
- the implications of new technologies on human rights and the field of information and digital rights
- Personal and professional alignment to the core mission and values of OSF and in excess of 15 years’ progressively responsible experience in the field of media and/or information with significant exposure to policy within that time
- Willingness to commit to the long-term success of the program
- Proven experience in the development and nurturing of teams, instinctive understanding of when to delegate or lead, empowers and enables staff to incorporate their perspectives in strategy development
- Ability to perform in an advisory role to senior management, including the President of OSF and Global Board
- Experience in planning and managing significant budgets, maintaining high standards of fiscal governance
- Experience of having lived or worked in diverse geographies, particularly including within the Global South, preferred
- Excellent English language skills, with additional languages strongly preferred
- Willing to undertake frequent travel, up to approximately 30% of work hours
What we offer:
- Ample opportunities to learn and grow, from annual professional development allowances to onsite trainings and brown bag lunches with visiting experts;
- Top-notch benefits and perks designed for your well-being and a healthy work-life balance. With some variability according to location, this includes generous time off, flexible work arrangements, employer-paid health insurance, a generous retirement savings plan, progressive paid parental leave, reproductive and family planning support, sabbatical opportunities, and much more;
- A commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive workplace that enables everyone to bring their full self to work and make a positive impact on the world.
If this sounds like the position you have been looking for, please submit your cover letter and CV; we look forward to learning more about you.
Competitive rates of pay apply.
We aim to build an inclusive workforce that is reflective of the populations we support, and actively seek applications from those who are marginalized and underrepresented. We are committed to providing reasonable accommodations to applicants and colleagues with disabilities.