As some Croakey readers may appreciate, this blog is something of a hybrid creature.

It lives on the Crikey website and receives editorial, technical and other backup from the supportive people at Crikey.

It is moderated by me (Melissa Sweet, freelance health journalist) but largely runs on contributions from members of the Crikey Health and Medical Panel (whose members now exceed 250 and include prominent figures in public health and health policy).

As you can see from the “about Croakey” section to your right, since November 2009, a consortium of health organisations through the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) has provided $1,000 a month towards the cost of my time in writing and moderating Croakey.

They have signed a Memorandum of Understanding stating they have no say over Croakey’s editorial direction or content.

The original funding arrangements expired at the end of December, but I am delighted to report that the PHAA is keen to ensure the blog keeps croaking, and has again rallied support from organisations and individuals who value an informed and vigorous public debate with a focus on public health.

While Croakey may seem something of an odd creature by traditional media standards, it is also indicative of how the media world is changing rapidly.

For example, in California a major health charity is funding journalists’ positions at selected print and broadcast media outlets to cover community health. The journalists answer to their outlets’ normal editorial processes and the charity, the California Endowment, has no editorial involvement.

Such arrangements – as with Croakey – clearly raise issues around editorial independence and conflicts of interest. But hopefully they are also bringing some public benefits and useful coverage.

I must confess to mixed feelings about the Croakey funding arrangements.

On one hand, I am conscious about the conflicts of interest (a minefield for freelancers generally, and please note my COI declaration has been updated).

On the other hand, the funding arrangements have made me more focused on servicing the interests of my audience who, I presume, are generally concerned about issues such as public health, equity, and health policy.

As I often tell people, one of the reasons I enjoy doing Croakey is that I feel a much greater sense of connection to audience than I ever did when working in mainstream media organisations.

It’s the difference between pitching to a news editor (whose news priorities and selections are often based on commercial news values, ie will this attract a large audience?), rather than thinking: will this be of interest/use to my somewhat niche audience?

Anyway, enough navel gazing from me.

The organisations that have agreed to fund Croakey over the next 14 months (until the end of February 2012), are:

1. The Epidemiology Unit of the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory;
2. The UNSW Research Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity;
3. The Public Health Association of Australia;
4. The Australian Health Care Reform Alliance;
5. VicHealth;
6. Australian Health Promotion Association; and
7. RaggAhmed.

As explained here in more detail, they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding stating they shall have no say over Croakey’s editorial direction or content

Thanks to all those above for their support. (And please encourage your members to engage with Croakey, whether in submitting posts or commenting on articles).

And thanks also to those who contribute posts, tips and comments to Croakey. I do appreciate that many of you are doing this on top of excessive workloads, and are often writing posts in the early mornings, late evenings and weekends.

• If any other Croakey readers or contributors are interested in supporting the Croakey Consortium, please contact Michael Moore at the PHAA: