Resources and takeaways from Engagement Explained Live: Building resilience

Engagement Explained Live: Building resilience in Budapest.

When baking a cake, it is vital you don’t forget any of the ingredients. That’s because all of the constituent parts — flour, butter, sugar, eggs, baking soda — fulfil specific and important jobs. Leaving one out makes it infinitely more difficult for the mixture to become the cake you want it to be.

We’ve found the same when it comes to engaged journalism. …


Behind-the-scenes of choosing our Engaged Journalism Accelerator grantees

(From left to right) Szelim, Laura, Amanda, Rico, Catalina, Sune, Olivier and Javier (credit: Kathryn Geels)

Have you ever asked yourself about what happens behind-the-scenes of a funding call?

Maybe you’ve wondered about how an organisation decides who it funds?

How is it possible to differentiate a good application from a great one?

Our Engaged Journalism Accelerator programme, supported by the News Integrity Initiative and Civil, recently funded eight news organisations across six European countries and we know that sometimes the process can seem opaque and even confusing. The final decision may not make sense straightaway and feedback can be hard to come by.

That’s why we want to explain a bit more about how we…


Participants of the News Impact Academy in London. Photo: Ben Whitelaw.

Three years ago, I read a piece calling for a revolution in the way product management happened in news organisations.

It was written by Espen Sundve, the newly appointed chief product and technology officer at SVG, Norway’s largest media group. In it, he wrote compellingly about the need for media organisations to embrace product management wholesale or face losing ground to tech companies and, eventually, going out of business.

I was working on the website redesign of a UK newspaper at the time and his arguments really resonated with me — especially his call for a new generation of hybrid…


After 25 phone interviews, 11 news organisation visits in five countries and one survey, here’s what we found

Photo by: David Marcu

Two months ago, we set ourselves the task of finding out what journalists across Europe needed to become more trusted, more open and more resilient. That’s why over the summer we conducted 25 interviews, visited 11 news organisations and carried out an online survey altogether covering more than 15 countries.

While each country had their own context and specific challenges, some themes were remarkably consistent. Here are the main lessons we learned and what they mean for our Engaged Journalism Accelerator programme.

1. I don’t know where to start when it comes to resilience or sustainability

Revenue was the overwhelming theme of most of our conversations. Marketing messaging, pricing strategies, membership growth, and subscriber…


Take five minutes to tell us how the Engaged Journalism Accelerator can help you

Since the Engaged Journalism Accelerator was announced back in April, there’s been a lot of work behind the scenes at the European Journalism Centre. The team (say hello to Kathryn, Madalina and Ben) is now in place and work has begun.

Our first task has been to think about the questions we’ll need to answer to help news organisations across Europe reach a new place of trust, dialogue and resilience.

We know one thing for sure — that we want to make newsrooms think twice about their organisational culture, their relationships with the people they serve and the impact they…


Reporters will know the following situation well.

You’re working on a story and, as part of your research, looking at cuttings from other newspapers in an archive system (like Clipshare) or on the web. In the course of writing the story, you use some of the information to provide context or to explain to the reader why the story is important or timely.

What you won’t know from the cuttings system is whether that story subsequently had a complaint brought against it about the information contained in it or the conduct of the journalist that wrote it. These complaints are…


Social media tools have far more firepower than commenting platforms. That needs to change.

If 2014 goes down as the year when publishers gave up on comments, 2015 may well mark the early shoots of a fightback.

The recent terrorist attacks in Paris have re-opened a discussion about the right to self-expression and the benefit of being challenged on our views (something that’s often a factor for those who engage in the comments on an article).

Aron Pilhofer, The Guardian’s exec editor for digital, followed that up last week by suggesting that it was a ‘monumental mistake’ for publishers to kill comments because it’s a way of giving readers ‘a voice’. …


Earlier this week, Reuters announced that they would be closing comments on news stories. Their argument, Executive Editor Dan Collarusso explained, was that social media had become the place to discuss news. “The best place for conversation is where it is open to the largest number of participants possible” he wrote.

As is often the case when a site stops readers from leaving comments (as Popular Science did in September 2013), the news triggered a wave of soul-searching about the value of reader comments. Engagement, transparency and accountability were given as reasons for allowing readers to have their say.


Not so long ago, comments on many news sites were just a way of generating revenue. Lots of comments yielded higher page traffic through repeat visits and time spent on page as well as additional SEO benefit (Disqus did some research in 2011 which summarised these long held ideas). News organisations often wrote articles with the aim of getting people commenting in order to drive traffic and, over time, readers began to understand why it was that this happened.

But as news organisations have adopted different models, the role of comments has changed. For The Times and The Sunday Times…


A few weeks ago, I got some good news. One of my good friends proposed to his girlfriend and she said yes. Finding out on Facebook on a thread with five of his other close friends, I couldn’t have been more happy for them both. Each of us in turn congratulated him and his fiancé, sharing in the moment, before he told his other friends with a status update and picture of the ring.

In the same week, Facebook announced a redesign of Newsfeed. Bigger pictures, a choice of feeds and a common experience across mobile and web were unveiled…

Ben Whitelaw

Journalist. Formerly European Journalism Centre, The Times and The Guardian. Co-founded @WannabeHacks.

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