EJC launches €1.7m Accelerator with support from News Integrity Initiative & Civil

It’s time to get serious about new journalism models

How can journalists empower communities and their conversations? Photo by Marianna is licensed under CC0.

The European Journalism Centre believes journalists have a key role to play in improving people’s lives through access to information, data, and perspectives that build bridges. Yet European journalism faces increasing pressures on revenue, attention, trust and independence. Something has got to give.

Engaged journalism — reporting that empowers communities and their conversations — offers a solution that can positively impact journalism and society.

European pioneers such as De ​Correspondent ​and ​The Bureau ​of ​Investigative Journalism have built promising models that put community engagement (geographical or topical) at the centre of their ownership, reporting, distribution, impact and revenue.

However support for these types of newsrooms is limited. There’s not enough funding available to organisations emerging in the same space. Very often it is not linked to sustainability, nor does it come with enough support or coaching. Innovation across Europe is siloed, and media environments are very different.

The European Journalism Centre, with funding from the News Integrity Initiative and Civil, seeks to change this with a €1.7m Engaged Journalism Accelerator.

What are we accelerating?

Following months of research, we’ve learned that European news organisations that place community engagement at the heart of their strategy are making significant progress.

Funding

€600k of grants will support new revenue and sustainability for 10–15 European* organisations. This funding will focus on emerging media organisations with proven user loyalty.

Typically, these are growing newsrooms who need support in financing expansion, business development and product development. Funds will be available for bringing in new expertise or technology to support this.

Two rounds of open calls will launch in October 2018 and February 2019, with a simple application process designed to attract a diverse range of applicants engaging a diverse range of audiences. To stay up to date, sign up for our Funding newsletter.

There is incredible variety in new, emerging business models and journalistic practices across Europe in membership, cooperatives, merchandising and partnerships. We’re mindful that there’s no single winning model for engagement or revenue.

Thanks to the support of our sustainability partners Civil, all grantees will also get optional access to Civil technology, CVL tokens, community and mentorship. We believe that the Civil platform offers exciting opportunities for a decentralized marketplace, governance and content verification through blockchain. There is no requirement to use Civil technology for grantees, but those that do wish to implement it will receive CVL tokens and onboarding from the Civil team.

*47 Council of Europe Member States

Coaching

As part of the Accelerator, we’ll be making coaching available for grantees and the wider journalism community. This will be open to any media organisation or journalist, and takes the form of an Open Surgery launching in Autumn/Winter 2018. It provides innovators office hours with experts in business, product and organisational growth. Advice on blockchain in journalism, co-operative governance and microtransactions will be available from the Civil team.

In addition, we’ll be establishing a peer mentorship network for around 100 people, connecting legacy newsrooms with start-ups and emerging media organisations.

Resources & Events

Resources and events will be open to all newsrooms interested in new models of engagement and sustainability. Over an 18 month period, these will include:

  • 10 European events and meet-ups across Europe.
  • Playbooks and case-studies of successes and failures
  • Content and interviews from newsroom leaders and pioneers

Our principles

The Engaged Journalism Accelerator will support newsrooms, journalists, and the wider media ecosystem, by adhering to the following principles.

  1. Coach for success.
  2. Capture and share real case studies.
  3. Connect humans, help them tell stories.
  4. Support skills beyond journalism (business, legal, HR, product).
  5. Grant responsibly (not too big, not too small).
  6. Tie grants to sustainability and business innovation.
  7. Insist on great user experience for grantees (easy application, clear criteria).
  8. Support experimentation and tolerate failure.
  9. Invest in people over projects.
  10. Aid the development of diverse newsrooms and audiences

Our team

Based in London, Brussels and Maastricht, a new team will join us to lead the Accelerator.

Joining EJC as Programme Director for the Accelerator, Kathryn Geels has been working at Digital Catapult, an organisation established by the UK Government designed to support innovation in the digital economy. Previously, she was a Programme Manager at Nesta, where she led the Destination Local hyperlocal accelerator, and she worked with Google News Lab on their Digital Identities programme.

Ben Whitelaw will be Engagement Lead for the Accelerator. He is Head of Audience Development at The Times and The Sunday Times, co-founded Wannabe Hacks and previously worked for the Guardian’s Professional Networks, writing about health, social care and social media in the public sector.

Madalina Ciobanu joins us as Project Manager from journalism.co.uk, where she is a Senior Reporter writing extensively about media innovation in Europe and abroad. In her role she also produced a weekly podcast about trends in media and co-organised the UK digital journalism conference newsrewired.

Our partners

The Engaged Journalism Accelerator wouldn’t be possible without our generous partners.

News Integrity Initiative

The News Integrity Initiative is a philanthropic fund and a global coalition of newsrooms, nonprofits, technologists, and academics to foster mutually trusting relationships between journalists and the communities they serve, while also tackling the spread of disinformation, and nurturing respectful and inclusive civic dialogue. NII is a project of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

https://www.journalism.cuny.edu/centers/news-integrity-initiative/

Civil

Civil is a decentralized marketplace for sustainable journalism. Journalists can launch “Newsrooms” on Civil over which they retain full business and editorial autonomy. This model enables a more direct, transparent connection between citizens and newsmakers, and strengthens protections for journalists against censorship and intellectual property disputes. Civil will publicly launch in late Q2 2018. To date, six Newsrooms, comprised of more than 50 full-time journalists, have committed to publishing on Civil.

Learn more at www.joincivil.com.

Further reading

To stay up to date with the Accelerator, including when the call for applications opens, sign up for our Funding newsletter.

For more background on the Accelerator check out these posts: