1. What is engaged journalism?

We see it as journalism that puts community engagement (geographical or topical) at the centre of its ownership, reporting, distribution, impact and revenue. Engaged journalism has the potential to restore trust in media, provide citizens with information they need and help establish new and resilient revenue models and enhance plurality and diversity in a crucial part of society’s information ecosystem.

2. What's an accelerator?

Good question. In technology terms, it’s a programme that involves funding, mentoring, training or education and network building for cohorts of promising start-ups developing their business. The objective is to help them reach their goal faster. Our Accelerator is no different but concentrates on organisations that do engaged journalism.

3. Who is the Accelerator funded by?

The Accelerator is entirely run by the European Journalism Centre. It is supported by a €1.7 million fund from News Integrity Initiative and Civil.

The News Integrity Initiative at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism is a $14 million fund from a coalition of partners, which currently include Facebook, Craig Newmark Philanthropic Fund, Ford Foundation, AppNexus, Knight Foundation, Tow Foundation, Betaworks, Mozilla, and Democracy Fund. The advisory council of the News Integrity Initiative can be found here.

News Integrity Initiative is supporting efforts to connect journalists, technologists, academic institutions, non-profits, and other organisations from around the world to foster informed and engaged communities, combat media manipulation, and support inclusive, constructive, and respectful civic discourse.

Civil is a decentralised journalism marketplace based on blockchain and cryptoeconomics, aiming to power sustainable journalism around the world. Launched in 2017, Civil received $5 million in funding from Consensys, a blockchain software technology company based in New York.

4. Who and what are you funding?

Emerging news organisations in Europe* with proven user loyalty, who regularly and meaningfully involve their audiences in the reporting process and educate them about the newsgathering, or who connect communities directly to the news organisation in some form, be it online or in-person. Typically, these are growing news organisations who need support in financing expansion, business development and product development, as they strive to be financially and structurally resilient. Funds will be available for bringing in new expertise or technology to support this. The Accelerator does not aim to fund one-off storytelling projects or temporary audience engagement initiatives. You can read more about the target audience of the Accelerator here.

*47 Council of Europe Member States

5. When can I apply for funding?

Accelerator grants will provide between €35k - €50k of funding for up to 15 engaged journalism organisations in Europe. 

In autumn 2018, we will select up to four organisations through a closed call for proposals. The chosen grantees will be announced at News Impact Summit Cardiff on 15 October. On the same day, details about the open call will be made public. 

For both the closed and open call, organisations will need to meet a robust selection criteria in order to be shortlisted and granted funding.

6. How does the Accelerator decide which organisations it funds?

Open call applications will be selected on the basis of their suitability in relation to the following criteria:

  1. The current barriers, as well as the potential for impact (within the organisation and for the community that the organisation is serving) are well defined
  2. The organisation is developing and engaging a clearly defined ‘community’ (geographical, topical, or other) rather than simply trying to reach and grow an ‘audience’
  3. There is a clear, robust and impact-led business objective that will benefit from a defined amount of grant funding
  4. The business objective aims to develop new approaches to and/or enhance effectiveness of: participatory revenue models beyond memberships and subscriptions / user analysis or user research / internal culture change / face-to-face listening experiences and events / transparency around the editorial and journalistic process / strategic development (including Theory of Change)
  5. There is capacity within the organisation to execute the objective quickly and proficiently
  6. There is an ability and willingness to share ideas, experiences and learnings with the other organisations that will be participating in the Accelerator
  7. The propensity to help the EJC successfully meet the Accelerator objectives, mission and vision (as outlined at the start of this document) and create long-term impact after programme completion
  8. The potential resilience of the news organisation beyond Accelerator participation and funding

You can read more about the Accelerator funding opportunities here.

7. What diversity measures do you have in place?

Not only are we committed to ensuring that all aspects of the Accelerator are inclusive and accessible, we believe the project will be more successful for it. Gender, ethnic, socioeconomic and geographical diversity are important to us. You can read more about our inclusion, diversity and equality policy here.

8. How can I get involved?

We want to hear from anyone — journalists, academics, researchers, marketeers, legal experts, business developers and product specialists — who are passionate about doing journalism for and with communities. 

Thoughts, questions or feedback? Get in touch with us at [email protected] or @ejcnet.

9. What is the difference between an ambassador and a mentor?

Ambassadors are people working in any relevant field who believe in the importance of engaged journalism and informed communities and who can can contribute their experiences and knowledge to help us promote the Accelerator and grow our network.

Mentors are people who work in journalism, product development, business development, marketing, HR or legal who are interested in taking on a mentorship role to help Accelerator grantees, and the wider circle of journalists and news organisations passionate about engaged journalism, to innovate. More details on that soon.

Read more about the different ways you can get involved in the Accelerator here.

10. What are the Accelerator’s principles?

The Accelerator will support news organisations, 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

11. Is the Accelerator able to provide feedback for my proposal before I submit an application?

The Accelerator team have outlined the types of grant proposal that we’re interested in receiving on the Funding section of our website. However, the team is not able to give feedback on specific proposals. The team are happy to answer questions related to the application process via email or in a video call.

12. Are travelling costs covered when attending Accelerator events?

As a rule, we are not able to cover flights and accommodation for participants of our events. For some events, we do have a limited budget set aside to help support participants from smaller organisations or freelancers. Get in touch with us at [email protected] if you want to know whether you’d be eligible.

13. Should I book my own travel and accommodation?

In the event that we provide financial support, we’ve found from experience that it’s easier if attendees book their own travel and accommodation and send receipts to the Accelerator team for repayment. If cash flow is an issue, get in touch with us at [email protected] and we can work something out.

14. Who is best to attend an Accelerator event from my organisation?

Our events are designed to be inclusive and we recommend sending the person who will benefit the most from participating. If you are from an organisation that has received an Accelerator grant, don’t feel like you have to send the person named on the grant application. If you wish to send more than one person, drop us an email at [email protected] and we’ll consider your request.

15. What does the monthly reporting for the Accelerator funding involve?

Each month, we ask that grantees fill out a short template to review the progress they are making with their core activity and the experiments that they are expected to undertake. This gives the Accelerator team some information about the areas grantees might need support in and allows us to capture the impact the programme is having over its duration.

16. Why are grantees expected to be involved in the programme after their grant term runs out?

There are a number of learning and reflection events that we plan to run towards the end of 2019 to help us quantify the impact of the organisations that have been funded and of the programme as a whole. As such, grantees from both the open and closed call are expected to participate and to input into that process as far as possible.

17. What feedback will the Accelerator team provide to grantees in relation to the experiments they have to undertake as part of their proposal?

Each month, there will be a scheduled call to track progress in relation to the core activity outlined in your grant proposal. As part of this, grantees have the opportunity to discuss their experiments and any other ideas that relate to their core activity. There will also be opportunities to discuss the experiments with other grantees via our online Accelerator network (details TBC).

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