Four untold stories that sum up my first year at the European Journalism Centre
Faced with the one year anniversary of my arrival at the European Journalism Centre, I had many ideas for a blogpost. Most of the previous posts in this series involved failures, things learnt, and opportunities for improvement.
This time, I’ll focus on reasons to be proud.
Over the past twelve months, the team have achieved a huge amount. Despite the struggles and the day-to-day doubts (and, oh boy, have there been a lot of those too), we have a lot to be proud of.
Not all of these made headlines or required press releases. But all of them are indicative of the huge amount of work the team put in to change things for journalism and our organisation this year.
We transformed our revenue mix
When I joined the European Journalism Centre, my first board meeting was mostly occupied with discussing our revenue strategy.
For many of the past 25 years, the EJC has had contracts with the European Commission. That will no longer be the case in 2018.
The board and I share the belief that this is an opportunity for the EJC to increase the volume and diversity of funding from other sources who can help us transform journalism.
In less than a year, we’ve replaced our EU funding, increased our net income, and added five brand new partners. To do this whilst simultaneously improving our organisation-wide focus is something to be hugely proud of.
We formed new partnerships more easily
We’re obviously very excited about the potential for the €1.25m accelerator programme we announced recently.
Beyond this, the partnership also validated the strategies the team and I put in place earlier in the year. By listening to our core communities, we were able to much more clearly explain our value and start conversations around those values with like-minded organisations.
That meant we were able to move quickly and maintain momentum with someone like the News Integrity Initiative. We could answer an immediate need without trying to make square proposals fit circular application calls. It’s an important step forward and a blueprint for the future.
We kickstarted industry change (hopefully)
Our Journalism Funders Forums this year were more than just events. They marked a tipping point for philanthropy and journalism in Europe.
Of an estimated $1.3bn annually, only 6% of philanthropic funding for journalism flows to European organisations [source: new data we analysed for Alliance Magazine’s December issue, out soon]. That looks set to increase in 2018 and beyond, and I’m delighted with the small but significant role we’re playing in this. These types of initiative might not seem huge from the outside, but have real potential.
Wrangling stakeholders in this space is complex, but building on the efforts and goodwill of many pioneers, exciting partnerships are forming. We’ve approached this endeavour with openness and I believe it’s reaping rewards.
We developed new leaders
Much of my year has been spent trying to unpick and understand the historical legacies of our organisation’s structure. In doing so, we managed to develop and introduce a framework for trying to make this a better place to work.
By defining core values of collaboration, leadership and communication and then aligning career progression to this, we’ve seen (and rewarded) new leaders emerging.
These leaders have taken on unfamiliar topic areas, embraced mentorship, and shared knowledge across silos in a way that has been nothing short of impressive. Change like this is very challenging work. Getting it right first time is unlikely, but we continue to work at this every day.
All in all, it has been a good year. The highlights above sum up the year — bold, open, community-centred, team-led — and provide a blueprint for 2018. All of our events, grants, training programmes and media development have gone from strength to strength. I’m immensely proud of the team.
That’s also one of the reasons why this will be the last post I will write in my 100 days of questions blog series.
It has served its purpose through an important time of transition. Next year, I’ll be focusing my writing efforts next year on elevating other voices through a new blog strategy.
We’ll use this space to communicate about our work and the inspiring efforts of our community around our core themes of trust, entrepreneurship, philanthropy and data in journalism. We’ll continue to ask questions, we’ll continue to listen, and we’ll continue to connect journalists to new ideas.
There’s still a lot of hard work ahead. Thanks for reading.