The Lebedevs today launched a new Journalism Foundation headed by former Independent editor Simon Kelner with support for projects in Tunisia and Stoke-on-Trent.
The Lebedevs are providing the running costs for the Journalism Foundation and beyond that it is seeking support from other donors.
Chief executive Kelner told Press Gazette that the launch of the foundation 'couldn't be more timely'in the wake of the hacking scandal.
He said: 'The Leveson Inquiry thus far has presented a picture of British journalism which is sullied by skulduggery and sharp practice. What we aim to show through the foundation is that journalism can be and is a force for good."
He said that the aim is for the foundation to support 'initiatives that have a direct and positive effect on people's lives'and which can self-sustaining after initial support.
The Journalism Foundation is partnering with City University journalism department to establish journalism training courses in Tunisia. And it is also providing support for www.pitsnpots.co.uk - a website which has been set up to cover local politics in Stoke-on-Trent.
Independent and Evening Standard proprietor Evgeny Lebedev is chairman of trustees for the charity. Other trustees include: human rights lawyer Baroness Kennedy, former chairman of the House of Commons media select committee Lord Fowler and former director general of the BBC World Service Sir John Tusa.
The foundation has a full-time staff of four, comprising Kelner, former Independent managing editor Charlie Burgess, a website editor and an administrative assistant.
Alexander Lebedev said: "I am delighted the Journalism Foundation is launching. For over 20 years I have argued that democracy cannot flourish in countries without a free press. And it is only by championing brave, investigative journalists across the globe that international corruption can be tackled effectively. Now more than ever, we must support journalists whohold the powerful to account and I am certain this foundation will do that brilliantly."
The Journalism Foundation is also planning to give bursaries to individual journalists and run an annual award.
In its manifesto the Journalism Foundation states:
- 'We will fund projects whose purpose is to increase engagement in civic society at a local or national level.
- "We will only back initiatives that use journalism as an instrument for the public good.
- "We will support investigative journalists working to expose truth in dangerous conditions.
- "We will help journalists exploit new-found liberties in countries where press freedom has been an alien concept.
- "We will help develop community journalism initiatives and will give grants to suitable projects."
The Journalism Foundation declined to reveal specific figures about its launch funding or grant allocations so far.