Billionaire Australian investor and philanthropist Judith Neilson has committed A$100 million ($72.38 million) to establish a journalism institute in a suburb of Sydney, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
To be headquartered in a building Neilson purchased to serve as a media, technology, and events hub, the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism & Ideas will support quality journalism with educational programming, grants, and convenings on topical issues. With a focus on strengthening reporting on Asia and providing opportunities for Australian and Asian journalists to collaborate, the institute will partner with university journalism schools and news organizations. An international search for key staff, including an executive director, is under way ahead of the institute's launch in 2019.
Born in Zimbabwe, Neilson was ranked forty-eighth in Forbes' 2017 ranking of the world's fifty-six self-made women billionaires with an estimated net worth of $1.1 billion, a fortune made through property investments as well as a stake in Platinum Asset Management, which was co-founded by her ex-husband, Kerr Neilson. A former graphic designer, she also is the owner of the White Rabbit Gallery, which houses one of the world's largest and most significant collections of contemporary Chinese art.
"As an avid consumer of news, I recognize the need to support evidence-based journalism and the pursuit of truth in an increasingly complicated and confusing world," said Neilson. "Journalism doesn't just need critics, it needs champions — people and institutions with the resources to help educate, encourage, and connect journalists and their audience in pursuit of excellence....Through targeted funding and education, we can strengthen Australian journalism and help restore faith in its central role in a healthy democracy."