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MDIF was founded in 1995 as Media Development Loan Fund by journalists Sasa Vucinic and Stuart Auerbach.
Sasa was a Serbian editor and media manager who had run B92, Belgrade’s leading independent radio station, during the early years of the Milosevic regime, while Stu was a vastly experienced Washington Post journalist and foreign correspondent. Though from very different backgrounds, they shared a passion for quality journalism and a belief that independent news media are essential to sustained political, social and economic development.
Together they had the idea of launching a ‘media bank’ to help journalists in countries with a history of media oppression build sustainable news businesses, strong enough to stay independent of governments, political parties and oligarchs.
17 years after making its first loan to a small Slovakian newspaper called SME, the organisation they created has grown faster than they – or anyone – imagined, providing over $128 million in affordable financing and helping more than 90 independent news businesses in 31 countries to flourish and grow.
The organisation also changed its name to Media Development Investment Fund in January 2013. Though only one word different, we think ‘investment’ captures the scope of our work much better than ‘loan’, both in terms of the range of financing we provide (we made our first equity investment in 1999) and the technical support we invest in our clients.
Sadly Stu died in 2003 and wasn’t able to see how the fruits of his labour continued to grow. Sasa served as Managing Director from 1995 until March 2011.
Together they left a legacy to be proud of: the world’s only global investment fund for independent news media. Perhaps more importantly, they created an organisation with a life of its own.