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Tortoise Network

The news is what we all make it.

The problem: The divide between the powerful and the powerless is widening. Information inequality is rife. For democracy to work, the news media needs to be more democratic.

The solution: Giving everyone a seat at the table won’t happen by itself. The Tortoise Network is a new membership funding model that ensures Tortoise journalism is open to the people who are hardest for news platforms to reach, but whose voices we most need to hear.

The numbers: We currently have almost 22,000 funded Tortoise Network memberships around the UK. Network members have made their voices heard in the 350 ThinkIns we hosted in 2020.

Testimonials from Network members

“Tortoise has given me an opportunity to speak both about my own experiences and on the broader issues around children’s social care leaving me feeling more empowered and confident.”

Annie, a mother in the North East whose baby was removed at birth, then returned after a legal battle

“Coming into an empathetic newsroom like Tortoise changed the way I think about the media and made me want to tell my story.”

Anne Marie Douglas, who works with traumatised teenagers

“As a homeless person reliant on welfare payments to survive, I’m often excluded from many things due to expense. Being a participant of the funded membership scheme just levels the playing field.”

Paul Atherton

We find the people our newsroom is missing.

We monitor the demographic and attitudinal profile of our whole membership to spot groups who are underrepresented. Typically, people who are unseen and unheard by the media, and people working for change on the front lines in different communities.

We work with Connectors to invite them in.

Our Network of not-for-profits, NGOs and charities with deep roots in local communities introduce us to the types of people we’d struggle to reach ourselves, and support and encourage them to contribute to our journalism.

“Giving young people a chance to join a conversation about the world they live in, no matter who they are or where they are from, is a brilliant way to engage them in debates and to build confidence in their own voices.”

Michael Lynas
Chief Executive, NCS Trust

“We believe in a country where everyone can have an equal say. Being part of the Tortoise Network means being part of a conversation, where we can challenge ideas and seek to find common ground on often divisive issues.”

Tabitha Morton
CEO, More United


All made possible by the generosity of our supporters, both patrons…

Quality journalism doesn’t come for free. The Tortoise patrons are businesses and foundations who believe in the power of information equality. They commit to funding from 100 to 1,000 Tortoise memberships at £50 per member per year.

“We wanted to support the Tortoise Network because healthy societies should engage in shared conversations, open to all, about issues that matter.”


“Too often conversations are happening in echo chambers. We want to support Tortoise because they are bursting the bubble of news by opening up their membership to truly diverse groups.”



…and partners.

These are foundations and trusts we form long-term partnerships with to focus on a particular area of work, where our editorial mission aligns with their core purpose and we can build a programme of ThinkIns that help both our aims and engage new audiences around these conversations.

“Tortoise ThinkIns are about more than sharing insights and ideas; they are bringing about change.”

Lisa Harker
Director at Nuffield Family Justice Observatory

get in touch

Be part of the

tortoise network

Thanks to the generous support of our patrons and founding Supporters, the Network launched with 3,500 funded memberships. The total currently stands at 18,743. We’re always looking for individuals, businesses, foundations and charities to help us expand further.

If you’d like to find out more about becoming a Supporter or a Connector, please write to gurjinder@tortoisemedia.com.

If you’d like to join Tortoise as a member, you can apply to receive one of our funded Network memberships. We especially welcome applications from people who are on low incomes or currently receiving benefits, as well as people working for change on the frontline of their communities.

Please write to networkapplication@tortoisemedia.com and tell us a bit about yourself, why you want to be part of Tortoise, and what you’d bring to our ThinkIns.