Here’s the good news: Europe has seen hundreds of innovative independent media organizations launched. But too many face growing challenges to survive.
Now, the IPI global network has launched a major new project incorporating practical sustainability programs for media adapted for their different stages of development. With a focus on organizations in regions where media pluralism is under threat, the project supports these media in their innovation journey through a mix of skills development, coaching, strategic advice, funding, and networking.
As lead partner, the International Press Institute (IPI), will work with Thomson Media, Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN), and the Ukraine-based Media Development Foundation (MDF), to leverage the expertise within Europe’s journalism network to ensure communities across the continent can access the quality independent journalism they need.
Media Innovation Europe will give editors, publishers, and new media builders access to the expertise and insights they need to deeply understand the challenges they face and find the insights and pathway to sustainability. Participating media will gain a deep understanding of the needs of their target community and, crucially, will develop and deploy new journalism tools and skills in diverse products that reach audiences where they are.
By bringing together both existing media and new players, partnerships created through Media Innovation Europe will help build the new European journalism ecosystem.
The project takes a holistic approach to innovation and transition, understanding that great journalism survives on more than just its business model. With a clear journalism mission at the centre, the project will help media outlets explore sustainability in products, audience relationships, distribution and discovery, and the revenue streams that will support the mission. The aim is to create space for news organizations to access a wide range of different experiences and ways of thinking about innovation and the future of journalism.
Building strong relationships between journalists and news media outlets, and the network benefits these create, is central to IPI’s mission to strengthen independent journalism. As a membership-based organization, IPI will promote exchanges and collaborations across its global network. Media Innovation Europe will strengthen and expand these robust relationships and grow a network of new media innovators beyond the project.
Support for journalism
To meet the many challenges newsrooms face in Europe, the project supports publishers with their launch, growth, or transition. Activities include a transition accelerator, media business consultancies, a new media incubator, hackathons, audience engagement tools and practices, and an annual summit to develop, support, and celebrate media innovation across the continent.
A six-month Transition Accelerator programme and Deep-Dive Business Consultancies offer targeted support to news organizations that are vital to media pluralism in their region but may be struggling to survive. These initiatives will draw rich media experience of news leaders from across Europe in a programme designed to accelerate the digital transformation of their journalism, product development, business model, and revenue streams.
A six-month incubator will encourage and support the launch and growth of new media ventures by targeting groups who can articulate a deep understanding of their audience and needs, and who have a well-developed plan to test, and need help to implement their ideas. An annual hackathon competition, designed to surface new ideas and solutions, will offer opportunities for radical collaboration and exchange among media thinkers and builders from different backgrounds to help solve some of journalism’s urgent challenges. From each hackathon, three groups will be provided small grants to develop their ideas and prototypes.
All media chosen to join the accelerator and incubator programs, or as candidates for the business consultancy support, will also be eligible for grants of up to €20,000.
The project offers an audience-engaged journalism grant scheme to support newsrooms in implementing effective strategies to involve their community of readers and listeners in their journalism. The grant schemes are complemented by a curated mentorship program to match journalists and media innovators across Europe to share expertise and advice on anything from media management and editorial to audience engagement and product development.
The project will also create space for showcasing media innovation and raise awareness of why it is important to ensure quality, independence, and sustainability. An annual Media Innovation Europe Summit will be held in Vienna and will kick off each year with diverse hackathons, allowing participating media to exchange ideas and best practices in a fast paced and supported setting.
Impact on the European media landscape
The project will work across Europe, engaging media in EU member states, Western Balkans, Moldova, and Ukraine, bringing together diverse skills and experiences from different parts of the continent.
Media Innovation Europe will make a direct impact on the media landscape by strengthening existing newsrooms and fostering new media ventures. Above all, the program is expected to fortify journalistic collaborations.
A long-term outcome will be a critical mass of network expertise, creating the necessary transition infrastructure to strengthen business partnerships and relationships between journalists across the continent, that will build up stronger news media.
If you’d like to contribute your expertise to support journalism colleagues across Europe, or want to know more about IPI’s media innovation program then we want to hear from you.
Jacqui Park is IPI’s head of network strategy and innovation [jpark[a]ipi.media]
Ryan Powell is IPI’s product and innovation manager [rpowell[a]ipi.media].
Teona Sekhniashvili is IPI’s innovation projects officer [tsekhniashvili[a]ipi.media]