“We look for energy in society” – program managers Public Interest

We are heading in a new direction with our Public Interest program. Program Managers Martijn Roos and Ebru Akgün look back on 2021 and tell us about important developments in the program.

What is your impression of 2021?
: “I started working for Adessium in early 2021. In my view, our excellent partnership with SOMO symbolizes the new direction in which we headed in the course of 2021. SOMO is an organization that investigates multinationals. With our support, SOMO is able to add their expertise on monopoly positions to the digital field. Over a period of several weeks, we introduced SOMO to some of our existing partners in the field, such as Bits of Freedom, the organization that advocates for digital rights in the Netherlands, and BEUC, the European umbrella group for consumer organizations. We also drew up a proposal together with SOMO. In short: we took swift action with the team and created added value to the field, as well as to our other partners. Legislation in the area of digitalization is developing rapidly, so it is important to act fast.”
Ebru: “I started in late 2021. My first impression was that it was amazing how much our partner organizations had achieved during the pandemic year. They obtained great results both in the digital domain and in the field of investigative journalism.”

Left: Martijn Roos. Right: Ebru Akgün.

What are the important developments in your program?
Martijn: “In our theme responsible digitalization we emphasize advocacy and strategic litigation, for which we focus on key legislative processes in Europe, such as the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act. Good public governance is a new theme in our program. We have always had partners in our portfolio who focus on transparency, integrity and corruption. Now, we are also specifically looking at who is holding the Dutch government to account. Our journalistic work naturally also plays a major role in this process. We know that too much focus on the role of watchdog can erode trust in the government. Therefore, working on that trust is also an important theme for us. So we’re looking for energy in society, places where citizens unite to develop initiatives to innovate good public governance.”
Ebru: “In our theme availability of quality information, we also started focusing on local journalism. Our analyses show that there is not enough ‘non-profit’ investigative journalism going on at the local level.”

Can you give us an idea of the program activities you will be conducting in 2022?
: “We’ve only just embarked on our new strategy, and we’re a relatively new program team, so we still have to figure things out to get a good picture of the fields we work in. But we already have several ideas. For instance, given the vulnerable position of journalists in the EU, we will look for partners who can safeguard and strengthen the role of journalism.”
Martijn: “We also believe we should be working on a narrative together with the field. That narrative should shed light on the digital world, the threats it poses and what people can do to counter these threats. We also want to exchange much more with other funders and learn more from each other, for example through the Democracy Network.”

Program Public Interest

Adessium is committed to an open, democratic and just society. We strive to create a society in which every citizen can participate and stay informed based on independent and reliable reporting, and where freedom, security and privacy can remain guaranteed in a digital world. A society in which government and public bodies function effectively, and act with integrity in the interest of citizens and the community.

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