Thomson Foundation

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The Thomson Foundation is a media development charity based in London, United Kingdom but operating worldwide. It was founded in 1963 and was the first charitable foundation with the specific aim of training journalists in developing countries.[1] Last year it celebrated its 50th anniversary.[2]


The goal of the foundation to promote transparency and media freedom across the world and train journalists in the skills that will help them to perform their role of holding governments and commercial entities to account in the public interest.

It provides practical training for journalists from emerging countries of Africa, Asia, the Middle East, the south Pacific, the Caribbean, South America and central and eastern Europe. The foundation also provides advanced courses in journalism.


The foundation was established in 1962 by the Canadian media businessman Roy Thomson. It was set up to champion free, fair and open media in the developing world. Previous guises include the Thomson Media Foundation.[3]

An extract from the Trust Deed on the formation of the foundation reads as follows: "Its purpose is the advancement of knowledge and spiritual enlightenment of all peoples enabling them to achieve closer understanding and to play an informed and responsible role in the affairs of their nation and the world. To this end the Foundation’s activities are primarily concerned with the development of modern techniques of mass communications in emergent countries."[4]

For many years, the organisation was based in Cardiff, Wales, and worked closely with Cardiff University's journalism school. In late 2012 it moved to central London[5] and is now based on Chancery Lane.[6]


In the past, the foundation has worked in more than 150 countries[7] and its current work includes projects in Azerbaijan and Sudan.[8] Programmes include the Inquirer Awards,[9] which promotes investigative journalism in a number of countries across Asia and the Middle East.

One of the foundations biggest projects is a long-running programme of work in Sudan, which includes training for journalists working in a range of media[10] and Africa Means Business, a project in collaboration with University of Ghana and the African Research Consortium based in Kenya,[11] with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Thomson Foundation runs an annual summer course, which sees journalists from across the globe come to the UK for a month of training and work placements.

The foundation has also done a lot of work in China over the past three decades, including encouraging modern journalistic practices in the state news agency Xinhua.[12]


The organisation's chief executive is Nigel Baker,[13] formerly with the news agency Associated Press.

Other staff and associates include Bettina Peters, formerly of the European Journalism Centre and Mark Webster,[14] previously a correspondent and editor at ITN.

Lord Chandos is the chair of the Thomson Foundation,[15] having succeeded Lord Fowler, a former cabinet member in the Thatcher government.


  1. ^ "Two television journalists move to Thomson Foundation". Press Gazette. 4 February 2009. Retrieved 27 July 2013. 
  2. ^ "Thomson Foundation offers annual broadcast journalism course". International Journalists' Network. 
  3. ^ "Thomson Media Foundation". 
  4. ^ Meikle, Bill. "The Thomson Foundation Television College". Innovations in Education & Training International. Taylor and Francis. Retrieved 23 July 2013. 
  5. ^ "Thomson Foundation moves to London and announces two new directors". The Wire. Press Gazette. Retrieved 23 July 2013. 
  6. ^ "Contact Us". 
  7. ^ "About Us". 
  8. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. ^ Barfield, Tom. "Demotix photographer honoured with Thomson Foundation Inquirer award". Shout. Demotix. Retrieved 23 July 2013. 
  10. ^ Staff, Writer (2013-06-25). "Thomson Foundation Media Consultants Visit Sudan Vision". Sudan Vision Daily. Retrieved 23 July 2013. 
  11. ^ Kunateh, Masahudu Ankiilu (17 July 2013). "Ghana: Economic Journalists Go to School". Retrieved 24 October 2013. the Africa Mean Business Group, a pan-African media initiative, in collaboration with University of Ghana and sponsored by the Thomson Foundation, UK, and the African Research Consortium based in Kenya 
  12. ^ Burrell, Ian (28 January 2013). "Bill's new mission: to show the world the force for good that is a free press". The Independent. Retrieved 23 July 2013. 
  13. ^ "AP veteran Appointed Thomson Foundation Chief Executive". 
  14. ^ Mark Webster (journalist)
  15. ^ Press, Gazette. "Thomson Foundation appoints Lord Chandos as new chairman".