Published – 10th April 2016 (Amit Youlzari, TimeOut)

In the place where watchdogs merely bark, six vigorous media bodies have come together to found an the IFIJ – The Israeli Fund for Investigative Journalism. You choose the topic being investigated, you cover the costs of it being done – and they are obliged to come back with the answers.

An Israeli independent journalism fund which finances freelance investigative journalists who operate directly by the public. Sounds like a utopic dream, doesn’t it? Well, it’s for real. The vision behind this project is Tomer Avital, a freelance journalist and a social activist, who started “100 Days of Transparency” and is the front-runner of this initiative.

“In a reality in which there’s insufficient funding, fear of being subjected to liability lawsuits, foreign interests, cross ownership of media and inhibitive governmental influence – the watchdogs of democracy are in shackles and carrying out in-depth articles is difficult”, says Avital. “In our investigation fund all the notable independent journalists in Israel are joining forces. For the first time, the public is both the publisher and the chief editor”.

This innovative journalist format allows users to flood IJIF’s page with requests for topics they wish will be addressed, to rank the best topic suggested, and finally to financially support the suggestions which scored the highest rating – in order for receive quality answers for the questions raised. “How were the funds Netanyahu raised during his primaries spent?”, “How come the cannabis market in Israel is not regulated?”, “What are “Yedioth Ahronoth” publisher, Noni Mozes’s hidden interests?” and “What exactly is happening at animal pounds?” – These are some the topic suggestions which were already raised on the IJIF’s page.

In order for the selected investigation to be carried out Avital collected all the independent media platforms into one place – “The 7th Eye”, “The Hottest Place in Hell”, “Social Justice – Situation Room”, “The Real Economy”, “The Plog” run by journalist Tal Schneider, and “100 Days of Transparency” which he is for front-man for. When there will be sufficient rankings in the investigation fund, all the freelance media means will gather and vote on what are the topics which are most opt to be undertaken and who is the journalist best fit for the job in question. The fund will aim to publish its findings in a large-scale media platform such as channels 2 or 10, and all the freelance media means who take part in the project will share the findings with their 250,000 subscribers.”

Six media platforms came together to form IJIF

The Hottest Place in Hell

founding year: 2013

key figures: Anat Fishbein and Irit Dolev

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Launched by journalists Anat Fishbein and Irit Dolev. An online site which covers mostly social causes, for which they won the DIGIT online journalism award for 2014. The site covered many investigative journalism articles, but the ladies behind it are especially proud of publishing Niv Hahlili’s article at the beginning of 2016 regarding sexual harassment at Amidar (Israel’s biggest national housing company). The piece presented the readers with first hand charges by female and male tenants who were sexually harassed and assaulted by officials in Amidar in exchange for promises to be put at the top of the list for receiving an apartment or being granted discounts on their payments. This article held public attention and was followed by mainstream media as the story unfolded.

100 Days of Transparency
founding year: 2015
hey figure: Tomer Avital

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Established as a crowdfunded platform for professionals to explore what the MKs are doing outside the parliament. The initiate outbid the funding first asked for. The site is responsible for uncovering businessman Yitzhak Teshuva’s frequent meetings with Netanyahu – and is considered the only piece of valid evidence for the relationship between the two. Nowadays avital is promoting the first ever legal tax revolt, which aim is to make small business owners aware of their ability to join forces and unite under a common collective company which can then ask for the same tax benefits huge companies enjoy, and on April of 2016 won the DIGIT Award.

The Real Economy
Founding year: 2011
Key figure: Eran Hildsheim

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This is a blog which examines the foundations on which the economic system lays upon. The blog was elected one of the two best economy blogs in Israel by “Yedioth Aharonot” and broadcasting company “Mako”, and in 2014 became a radio program on Kol Israel national radio station. One of the main stories dealt with Ofek, a common association, which tried to become the first social bank in Israel and conveyed messages of democracy and transparency. The depicted picture was of the complete opposite and raised some questions regarding the problematic behavior attributed to its chairman. In less than a year since the story went public many council members abandoned the project.

The Plog
Founding year: 2011
Key figure: Tal Schneider

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Won the google Israel and the Israeli Journalism society’s award of online excellence for 2012. The blog is behind uncovering Ran Baratz’s election for office as head of the national “hasbara” alignment which still hasn’t taken place, and for the manner in which Noble Energy funds American research institutes to gain influence. The Plog has 400 members who pay 15 NIS monthly, and among other things it conducts interviews with politicians over Whatsapp groups, and works using a business model which successfully delivers a steady income.

   
Social Justice – Situation Room
Founding year: 2011
Key figures: Or-ly Barlev and Yossi Shaul

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First established as a Facebook page as a herald of the social protest and has since been an alternative media means which covers social protests, deconstructs false narratives in public debate, spreads knowledge and facts, as well as motivates citizens to take action. Or-Ly Barlev, one of the central activists, is a front-runner for the gas protest. The “situation room” activists report that materials which were published during the protest raised awareness of data the general public knows nothing about, and hit hundreds of thousands of people and changed public opinion regarding the gas deal and its repercussions.

The Seventh Eye

Founding year: 1996

Key figures: Shuki Tausig and Oren Perisko

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A media critique site which started its way 20 years ago. A year ago, the seventh eye, edited by Shuki Tausig, parted from the Israeli Institute for Democracy which no longer supports the site. And so the site began to rely financially on its users. In a series of research articles it published, Itamar Bez uncovered the way in which government offices, and different associations paid millions in recent years for incorporating propaganda on their part in TV programs of journalistic characteristics on channel 2, without any disclaimer.

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