Audience-Engaged Journalism Grants

Reach your audience in new ways

Audience-Engaged Journalism Grants set you up to connect with your audience and co-produce original reporting with your audience.

What are Audience Engaged Journalism Grants?

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) is inviting media outlets interested in connecting with their audiences and reporting on original stories that will make an impact to apply for Audience-Engaged Journalism Grants.

Individual grants will be awarded to selected media outlets that wish to cover national/regional/local topics on their own. Collaborative grants will be awarded to selected media outlets that want to investigate cross-border issues with a media partner.

What does the training cover?

Grantees selected by the international jury under the Audience-Engaged Journalism Collaboration scheme will undergo a four-day training programme that will be offered online. The training agenda will cover the following topics:

  • Planning an engagement story
  • How to select an engaging topic 
  • How to develop a callout 
  • What makes a project an engagement project?
  • Local and global perspective in engagement journalism
  • How to design a callout – technical perspective (intro to the BE tool)
  • BE tool implementation
  • Callout development based on local examples
  • How to design a callout from an editorial perspective 
  • How to read the results; which topic could have success in your newsroom?
  • What do people want to talk about?

Activities and project support

The selected grantees will undergo a four-day training programme that will be offered online and on-the-job mentoring by BIRN editors on how to use and implement innovative, effective audience-engagement tools for investigative community-based reporting. 

The participating media will receive training in the use of the B-Engaged tool, developed by BIRN, an online tool that enables direct engagement of many citizens interested in sharing information and evidence related to issues they are facing. 

Through training and mentoring, media outlets will also learn: how to select engaging topics; what is important to the audience; how to develop a callout; how to analyse crowdsourced data; how to incorporate data in the stories; and how to shape a story according to engagement journalism standards.

General eligibility

Media outlets based in the following countries can apply for Audience-Engagement Journalism Grants: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Hungary, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Serbia and Slovakia.

The call for applications is open to 10 participants in the first year and 10 participants in the second year (one media outlet per country per training cycle)

Selection criteria

  • Demonstrate a deep understanding of the problem they seek to solve.

  • Demonstrate a willingness to undertake audience research and find ways to serve new audiences.

  • A vision of what success would look like with metrics to measure against.

  • Promotion of quality independent journalism

  • Capacity to implement the project

  • Willingness to include diversity and gender equality

  • Openness to journalism collaborations

Application requirements

  1. Stories must tackle an issue relevant to your national/regional/local audience if you are applying for individual grant.

  2. Stories must tackle an issue relevant to audiences in Southeast and Central European countries if you are applying for collaborative grant.

  3. Applicants should elaborate ideas on how they will include underrepresented communities in their stories (marginalised communities, such as minorities, youth, women and other underreported communities).

  4. The story must be investigative and in-depth.

  5. All stories must be published within eight months from the date of signing a contract.

The following documents are required:

The following supporting documents should be submitted within the embedded application form:

  1. Detailed budget

  2. Business Registry Certificate or any other document certifying that the applicant is registered as a legal entity in (country) as of at least January 2021.

  3. Financial statements for the 2020 and 2021 fiscal year, if applicable.

  4. Certificate from relevant tax authority that the media outlet is a regular taxpayer.

  5. A court certificate that the media outlet does not have ongoing legal proceedings nor is awaiting final judgment of cases against the organization.

  6. Editorial policy if applicable. 

Selection process and timeline

  1. Administrative checks will be done by BIRN to ensure the applicants have followed application procedures and submitted all the required documents.

  2. Evaluation will be done by the international jury to select applicants based on the evaluation criteria, including: quality of the proposed idea; feasibility of the proposed plan; ability to reach the broad public.

Media outlets should fill out an online application form to apply for the Audience-Engaged Journalism Grants

To learn more about the application, click here.

Apply for the Audience-Engaged Journalism Grants here:

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About the Audience-Engaged Journalism Grants

What are Audience-Engaged Journalism Grants? 

Run by BIRN, the Audience-Engaged Journalism Grants support media outlets interested in connecting with their audiences and reporting on original stories that will make an impact. BIRN will provide media outlets with training and mentorship in engagement journalism and usage of the B-Engaged tool (BE tool) developed by BIRN.

Who can apply for the programme? 

Media outlets based in the following countries can apply for Audience-Engagement Journalism Grants: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Hungary, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Serbia and Slovakia.

How many outlets will be accepted?

The call for applications is open to 10 participants in the first year and 10 participants in the second year (one media outlet per country per training cycle). Individual grants of €4,000 will be awarded to each selected media outlet that wishes to cover national/regional/local topics on its own. Collaborative grants of €5,000 will be awarded to selected media outlets that wish to investigate cross-border topics with a partner.

How will the grant improve my news outlet’s audience engagement?

Audience-engaged reporting has proven to be a game-changer in the region, as ordinary people’s voices are heard and unresolved issues are tackled. You will learn how to listen to these voices and report on essential topics for your community while bringing innovation to your investigative reporting and newsrooms.

The selected grantees will receive training in the use of the BE tool, which has been developed and tested by BIRN to meet the needs of local media facing limited capacities and resources. BE is an online tool that enables two-way communication between journalists and citizens interested in sharing information and individual experiences related to issues they are facing. Through the BE tool, media outlets reach out to the community for testimonies, information, experiences, data, evidence, expertise, etc. In addition to their own research, it enables journalists to use crowdsourced information that is well-structured and can be easily analysed while reporting on specific problems recognised by communities on a local level.

Grantees will be offered an online training programme. What topics will the training cover? 

Grantees selected by the international jury under the Audience-Engaged Journalism Collaboration scheme will undergo a four-day training programme that will be offered online. The training agenda will cover the following topics:

  • Planning an engagement story
  • How to select an engaging topic 
  • How to develop a callout 
  • What makes a project an engagement project?
  • Local and global perspective in engagement journalism
  • How to design a callout – technical perspective (intro to the BE tool)
  • BE tool implementation
  • Callout development based on local examples
  • How to design a callout from an editorial perspective 
  • How to read the results; which topic could have success in your newsroom?
  • What do people want to talk about?