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When IPI launched the New Media Incubator, we were overwhelmed by not only the number but the diversity of creative, much-needed media startups across the continent. The ten young organizations we selected (from 78 applicants) each meet the needs of specific communities. Some focus on specific cities, others target an otherwise overlooked demographic, and some operate in repressive environments. All are digital media initiatives, but with varied forms, from websites to outlets that only publish through newsletters or social media.

The goal of the incubator was to support these teams in learning media innovation strategies and applying these to the development of their businesses.

At the end of the six-month programme, we are proud to say that the teams not only achieved impressive results – increasing newsletter subscribers and social media following, launching new products and deepening engagement with their audiences – but also gained skills and confidence that will help them on the path ahead.

How they did it

A combination of training on strategies such as OKRs and audience research, and tailored coaching from media leaders with relevant expertise, meant that our participants were able to adapt innovation strategies to their unique situation.

Whether that meant adapting to the news consumption habits of Gen Zs or to the specific nature of the news media market in their country, innovation is not a one-size-fits-all approach.

“This journey has been a dynamic exercise in agility, consistently testing our ability to pivot quickly” – Karakaya Talks

For example, two Belarusian participants navigated the challenge of audience engagement in the face of threats to journalists and news consumers. That meant creating communication channels that safeguarded privacy, and pursuing new avenues for community-building and even monetization, such as creating physical products.

“Instead of overthinking, we launch our innovation and see what happens. If something goes wrong, we fix it and try again. And if it doesn’t work out, we move on to something else right away.” – Sojka

And Romanian participants Tech Wave Development are not a traditional media company, but took part in the incubator to develop a product aimed at helping journalists counter fake news, serving as a reminder of the power of cross-sector collaborations.

Launching and growing a media business is not for the fainthearted, but the successes and, more importantly, the commitment and creativity from the New Media Incubator participants are a clear sign of hope for the future of independent, audience-focused news.

Now it’s your turn: If you’re ready to explore new ways of identifying editorial, business and technological opportunities at your media organization, including finding ways to diversify your revenue streams, you might be interested in IPI’s Innovation and Revenue Roadmap.

Learn more about the New Media Incubator

You can read about each team’s experience in more detail at the links below:

>> Karakaya Talks (Germany): Pivots and adaptation in the innovation journey

>> Sojka (Belarus/Poland): How an Instagram publication for women connected with its audience

>> Namir Media (Ukraine): Adapting innovation strategies to reach a niche audience

>> Baynana (Spain): How a migrant-focused media outlet strengthened its newsroom in six months

>> ALMADENSE (Portugal): How a Portuguese local media uncovered revenue opportunities through a newsletter

>> Mecseki Müzli (Hungary): Growing a small media outlet when less is sometimes more

>> Dzień Dobry Bełchatów (Poland): Five lessons from on media innovation

>> Centro di giornalismo permanente (Italy): The Italian journalism network using Twitch to reach young audiences

>> Backstage Belarus (Belarus/Lithuania): How a creative Belarusian media outlet pursued sustainability amidst severe pressure

>> Tech Wave Development (Romania): Developing tech innovations that help media fight disinformation

>> Zwierciadło (Poland): Creating a subscription-based revenue model from the scratch


IPI’s New Media Incubator is part of the Media Innovation Europe (MIE) project, co-funded by the European Commission. The programme is led by the International Press Institute, implemented in collaboration with Thomson Media, the Media Development Foundation and BIRN.