International Center for Journalists

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Group.png International Center for Journalists   Sourcewatch WebsiteRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
HeadquartersWashington DC
Sponsor ofOrganized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project
Sponsored byLuminate, National Endowment for Democracy, Open Society Foundations
US government funded organization to promote and finance a network of reliable journalists worldwide.

The International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) is an journalist training organization located in Washington, D.C., United States. Originally it was a Cold War front organization designed by the US government to promote and finance a network of reliable journalists worldwide. Since 1984, the International Center for Journalists has worked directly with more than 140,000 journalists from 180 countries. ICFJ offers hands-on training, workshops, seminars, fellowships and international exchanges to reporters and media managers around the globe.


ICFJ was founded in 1984 by Tom Winship, Jim Ewing, and George Krimsky, three prominent U.S. journalists, one of which was expelled by the USSR as a spy.

Harold W. Andersen was on the board, from the World Press Freedom Committee, later merged with the regime change organization Freedom House


"ICFJ does more than train citizen and professional journalists. We launch news organizations, media associations, journalism schools and news products. We help journalists develop stories that lead to better public policies such as improved access to health care and cleaner environments. Our trainees expose corruption, increase transparency and hold officials accountable to their citizens."[1] These targets sound worthy while at the same time being vague. Corruption is a standard accusation regularly wielded against international political opponents, while at the same unclear enough to let preferred leaders stay on in power. And if these effort are sponsored by a foreign government (the US), it will not "hold officials accountable to their citizens", but is a cynical abuse of civil disobedience by imperial interests.


The ICFJ runs many programs. A selection include:

  • ICFJ has a learning module, a Short Guide to the History of ‘Fake News’[2], using the language of the US government of "a weaponization of information on an unprecedented scale. Powerful new technology makes the manipulation and fabrication of content simple, and social networks dramatically amplify falsehoods peddled by anti-democratic governments, populist politicians and dishonest corporate entities."... but downplaying the massive US/NATO effort in the same field (as ICFJ seems to be a part of), and teaching as facts US/NATO narratives on several key events, while not presenting the opponents view straight.
  • The Eurasia Media Innovation Challenge "offers grants of between US$5,000 and US$100,000 to applicants proposing innovative and entertaining projects to provide quality news and information to Russian-speaking populations in Eurasia.", a program eerily reminiscent of something the Integrity Initiative worked on funding - and indeed they partner with a British NGO called Media Diversity Institute.
  • Expanding investigative journalism and transparency in Nicaragua, a country that is prioritized as a target for regime change. The ICFJ complained that the government is stopping foreign funding "independent" journalists. "We’re also seeing increased financial pressure on journalists....a new anti-terrorism law targets international donors, including those who help fund these outlets"[3]
  • The International Center for Journalists has been operating in the Middle East North Africa region since 2005. In 2010, the ICFJ started a program training citizen journalists in Egypt with the majority of the funds provided by the US Department of State. Many analysts today credit the utilization of social media outlets by these citizen journalists as one of the main vehicles for mobilization in the Arab Spring regime change operation. However, the ensuing instability rendered US government funded NGOs, vulnerable to harsh criticism and scrutiny across the country. In June 2013 following the election of the now deposed Muslim Brotherhood president Muhammed Morsi, a Cairo criminal court convicted 43 NGO workers, including 3 American and 2 Egyptians who worked at ICFJ, of operating without a documented license and receiving illegal foreign funding. One of the lessons learned by ICFJ was "Build a loyal local constituency.....Let’s identify those in the power structure who want our services."[4] After the toppling of Morsi, the new reliable dictator al-Sisi reversed the verdicts[5].

Arthur F. Burns Fellowship

ICFJ’s longest-running program, the Arthur F. Burns Fellowship provides talented young U.S., German and Canadian journalists the opportunity to live and work in each other’s country. Among the mid-career journalists reporting on international affairs in Germany today, at least half are Burns alumni. Many U.S. alumni, who began in small community news organizations, have moved to positions of greater influence and breadth. More than 80 percent of Burns alumni have been promoted or joined other organizations in more senior positions.

Before individual fellowships begin, all participants attend a one-week orientation in Washington, D.C., during the last week of July. Fellows attend meetings with prominent media and government representatives and discuss professional issues. The orientation fosters a spirit of community among the participants and gives a foundation for understanding transatlantic relations.Over the next two months, fellows work as temporary staff members at host newspapers, magazines, and radio and television stations.

Fellows represent every type of media outlet, from The Wall Street Journal, the Globe and Mail, The Seattle Times and National Public Radio, to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, ZDF and Der Spiegel. Their influence on readers, viewers and listeners is diverse and far-reaching.[6]

Started during the Cold War, the function of the Arthur F. Burns Fellowship is to create a cadre of central journalists that are friendly and beholden to the United States and NATO. "By providing journalists the opportunity to broaden their perspectives and deepen their coverage, the Burns Fellowship helps...preserve the transatlantic bond."[7] One can see the importance of this work by looking at the trustees, who include Henry Kissinger and former CIA-director David Petraeus.

Full article: Arthur F. Burns Fellowship/Trustees

Funding and Partners

The US government finances it[8] directly through the National Endowment for Democracy, the CIA-close Radio Free Asia,United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the US State Department, and the Cold War era government financed "independent" Freedom House.

Corporate cutouts for the US government/private propaganda effort includes Google News Initiative,Facebook Journalism Project,Microsoft News Labs. Wikipedia list the CIA-close Open Society Foundations as one of the sponsors.

The work show several connections to other US propaganda efforts, like First Draft and Bellingcat

It collaborates with many of the heavyweights in corporate media, New York Times, the Washington Post,NBC News,21st Century Fox,Bloomberg Philanthropies,Fusion Media Group,Associated Press etc, etc.

Other corporate sponsors include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundationand the oil industry American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufactures.

Connections to their Cold War work can also be found in the for example Fundación Violeta B. de Chamorro, named after the first president after the 1990 regime change in Nicaragua; and the very Cold War sounding Supporters of Civil Society in Russia.



LuminatePierre Omidyar's foundation for financing global media and civil society groups. It is unknown how close it aligns to certain US government agencies.
National Endowment for DemocracyThe "traditional intermediary of the CIA", promoting the US "national interest" by "soft power".
Open Society FoundationsA NGO operating in more countries than McDonald's. It has the tendency to support politicians (at times through astroturfing) and activists that get branded as "extreme left" as its founder is billionaire and bane of the pound George Soros. This polarizing perspective causes the abnormal influence of the OSF to go somewhat unanswered.