Pro Bono Australia Founding Editor Retires
14 December 2017 at 8:46 am
The founding editor of Pro Bono Australia’s independent news service, Lina Caneva will retire from the top job at the end of 2017 after 18 years working side-by-side with the social enterprise founder Karen Mahlab AM.
Caneva developed the bespoke news service with Mahlab, to sit alongside Pro Bono Australia’s many resources for the not-for-profit sector, including the Guide to Giving, VolunteerMatch, the Source Directory, and the Pro Bono Careers platform, and will hand the editorial-baton to established journalist and deputy-editor Wendy Williams.
“Globally the media industry has never been at such crossroads and it’s in this environment that as editor at Pro Bono Australia I can look back with pride on 18 years of endeavour and achievement during a time of frantic technological growth and change,” Caneva said.
“As the largest online social sector publisher in Australia, there are close to one million Australians a year currently using our services. We started from a very small readership base back in 2000 to now reach almost 50,000 subscribers.
“Today our reach and impact are significant and I leave the independent news service in very good hands.”
She said Pro Bono Australia’s role in the sector was “unrivalled as a conduit between those working at the coalface, federal and state governments, corporates and the general public”.
Pro Bono Australia was launched in 2000 as a for-purpose business to provide resources for the social sector to help “activate good intentions”.
Mahlab, who received an Order of Australia for her services to the community and philanthropy in 2015, said Caneva’s role inside Pro Bono Australia had been “pivotal” in getting the organisation to where it is today.
“She has been a passionate and prolific writer on issues that have concerned the sector over many years. Her heart, her head and her talent have been fundamental to the growth of our news services where we have always punched way above our weight,” Mahlab said
“Her dedication to the news service and her immediate attention to changing events have made us relevant and timely.”
Caneva took up the role of editor at Pro Bono Australia after an extensive media career in radio and television including ABC News from 1977, the Seven Network from 1986 and as an award-winning independent documentary film-maker from 1999.
Looking back on where Pro Bono Australia started, Caneva said that in 2000 very few not-for-profit organisations had an email address.
“In fact most organisations had just one shared email and only the very large internationally-based organisations had a website,” she said.
“So our first task was to find email addresses to deliver a fortnightly news bulletin via email about the sector in Australia and elsewhere. At that time we didn’t have a website that incorporated news. That didn’t happen until 2006.
“Today our extensive daily, online news service and regular daily email editions are a tribute to the growth and size of the Australian not-for-profit sector.
“We are timely and online, delivering a highly regarded independent news service using the explosion of social media to promote and encourage the work of the sector.
“We are producing around 1,600 stories a year on all aspects of the sector from politics to human rights, volunteering and philanthropy, technology and social innovation, social enterprises and changemakers.”
Caneva said that since 2000 the sector had seen many major changes of which Pro Bono Australia and Pro Bono News were at the forefront.
“We have covered multiple national inquiries into the NFP sector; a change to the 400 year old definition of charity; a ground-breaking 2010 Productivity Commission report by Robert Fitzgerald; the introduction of new privacy laws in 2000 (the do-not-call exemption for charities); the exclusion of fundraising events from GST in 2000; the establishment of private and public ancillary funds to simplify philanthropic giving; and significantly the 2012 establishment of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, just to name a few,” she said.
She said Pro Bono Australia as a social enterprise had also been on the front-line of issues affecting the sector.
“Pro Bono Australia’s first sector survey delivered the ‘not-for-profit manifesto’ and a campaign to make social policy part of the federal election in 2010,” Caneva said.
“Our ongoing surveys have continued to ‘take the temperature of the sector’ alongside our exclusive executive salary surveys. The introduction of our highly successful podcast series, Not for Podcast, have also broadened our reach.
“Our most recent contribution has been the Civil Voices project, produced by Pro Bono Australia and led by deputy-editor Wendy Williams, the Human Rights Law Centre and academics from the University of Melbourne.”
Civil Voices set out to examine how public debate and advocacy had changed over a decade and whether NGO perceptions of their capacity to participate in public debate had changed.
“This was a major piece of work that I am proud to have been a small part of,” Caneva said.
“This was also a reflection on the work of Pro Bono Australia and the team as a whole.
“I am retiring as editor but will continue my consultancy work at a much slower pace with the intention of indulging in some long-awaited travel plans across Australia. I leave the news team, including our newest recruit Luke Michael, in very good hands with plans to expand and develop in 2018 and beyond.”
Mahlab said: “It has been my good luck to work with Lina as one of the cornerstones of this organisation. She will be missed by many in the sector, not least us. She leaves us in very good hands to take our work forward.”