The Judith Neilson Institute has appointed the billionaire philanthropist’s lawyer and daughter to the board as Neilson cements her control of the $ 100 million in journalistic support she given commitment in 2018.
The two new directors – daughter Beau Neilson, the creative director of Phoenix Central Park, and attorney Daniel Appleby, a director of the Judith Neilson Head Trust – were appointed at a JNI board meeting Thursday.
Neilson’s two allies replace the four independent directors who resigned en masse in protest of the patron’s plans to change the direction of the institute.
The directors who stopped were the former Chief Justice of New South Wales, James Spigelman, the Australian Editor-in-Chief, Paul Kelly, the Chief of Free TV, Bridget Fair, and the former CEO of Victoria’s State Library, Kate Torney.
Under JNI’s CEO Mark Ryan, the institute has distributed $ 2.5 million in grants to everyone from major media organizations to community groups and has run a variety of events and training programs.
The institute, housed in an updated cultural heritage building in inner Sydney’s Chippendale, which was gifted by Neilson, was launched as a non-partisan charity run by an independent board.
But it emerged last week that Neilson was unhappy with some of the decisions the organization had made, and had indicated she wanted to be more involved in running it.
Neilson, who has broad philanthropic interests, wants to fund social change journalism, signaling a step away from handing out grants to the media giants.
According to leaking emails, Ryan opposed the move and warned the International Advisory Committee that the organization was heading “out of control”. But only four of the 12 advisory board members signed the letter to Neilson. Ryan remains on the board but is thought to be negotiating an exit.
Neilson’s chief of staff, Simon Freeman, told Guardian Australia that Neilson wanted to move the organization “in a slightly different direction”.
“Judith acknowledges the efforts for what has come to date, but has decided she wants to move in a slightly different direction, which is more focused on social change journalism,” Freeman said.
Guardian Australia, like other media organizations, has had several projects funded by the institute, including Pacific Project.
When she founded JNI, she said she would “look to experienced journalists and other experts to guide and guide its work.”
“I know that traditional forms of journalism are undergoing massive change, and Australian journalism and intellectual life need a shot in the arm,” she said in 2018.
However, Neilson now wants to focus on grassroots journalism and society, which is underserved by the media.