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Funding news organisations that put community engagement at the…

Funding news organisations that put community engagement at the centre of their work 

Photo of Portmeirion Festival, Wales by Kathryn Geels

During the summer, the Accelerator team visited France, Greece, Spain, Ukraine and the United Kingdom (UK). We met with and interviewed a number of representatives from engaged journalism organisations that we know are developing exciting, unique and impact-driven approaches, not only with their communities but also internally within their organisations.

We had a fervent desire to understand more about these organisations’ teams, their community engagement activities, revenue models, barriers to growth and, importantly, their objectives and what impact they are trying to make. And how they are balancing working towards financial resilience with creating tangible positive impact for and with the communities they serve.

Accelerator wordcloud
We asked representatives what the top three words are that represent their organisation’s approach to engaged journalism

We also met with these organisations with the intention of inviting them to submit proposals to our closed call. Now we want to introduce you to the four of them that we have chosen — and tell you how your organisation can apply to the Accelerator too!

The closed call

“What’s the difference between a closed call and an open call?” we hear you ask. Unlike an open call, where anyone/ any organisation can apply or submit a proposal to be considered for grant funding, a closed call is where people/ organisations are invited to submit a proposal.

For the purpose of the Accelerator, we invited proposals from organisations that we know (from our intelligence gathering) can ‘hit the ground running’ with a specific and compelling activity/ objective, and in which participation in the Accelerator will help them to achieve their potential.

We shortlisted on the basis of the best match 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. A clear, robust and impact-led business objective that will benefit from a defined amount of grant funding
  3. Capacity within the organisation to execute the objective quickly
  4. An ability and willingness to share ideas, experiences and learnings with the news organisations that will be participating through the open call
  5. The propensity to help the EJC successfully meet the Accelerator objectives, mission and vision and create long-term impact after programme completion
  6. The potential resilience of the news organisation beyond Accelerator participation and funding.

As well as meeting the above criteria, the organisations’ teams also needed to demonstrate the willingness and ability to meet certain programme terms and outputs, including participating at the News Impact Summit and Accelerator roundtable in Cardiff on 15 and 16 October 2018.

Welcoming our first grantees

So, without further delay, we’re pleased to welcome the following four organisations onto the Accelerator. We’re excited to be working with them not only because our programme will support their objectives financially, and help them to alleviate financial risks or burdens as they innovate, but also because each brings a unique dynamic.

From diversity in geography, language and organisation size, to diversity in the communities they serve, their business models and their approaches to achieving their objectives.

We’re also excited as to what we can learn from this cohort, and how we can share their experiences, challenges and progress throughout the programme, both with the organisations that come through the open call, as much as with other news organisations across Europe and beyond.

Engaged Journalism Accelerator grantees map
The European countries of the organisations we're funding

Greece: Solomon

Established: 2015. Number of people working for/ contributing to the organisation: 15. Representative/ Accelerator lead: Fanis Kollias

Mission statement: Solomon is a not-for-profit media organisation comprised of people with diverse backgrounds that aims to inspire cross-cultural bonding and collective transformation toward a future where local communities will be based on one common ground and universal: our mere humanity.

The core activity/ objective that the Accelerator will be funding: Solomon will use the funds to deliver a third, advanced, LAB training programme, which requires course instructors, media equipment, project managers and building a platform for the project. Through participation in the Accelerator, the Solomon team hopes to enhance their membership, subscriptions, advertising, and knowledge they have about their community.

Spain: Maldita.es

Established: 2014. Number of people working for/ contributing to the organisation: 10. Representative/ Accelerator lead: Clara Jiménez Cruz

Mission statement: Maldita.es is a non-profit organisation that fights disinformation and promotes transparency through fact-checking and data journalism techniques. Its content helps its community differentiate between what is real and what is not in order to build informed opinions and make informed decisions. Its watchword is “journalism to not be fooled”.

The core activity/ objective that the Accelerator will be funding:Maldita.es aims to develop and integrate a CRM that organises its community — both for payments and for receiving contributions — and to develop a tool to organise and integrate conversations and the different platforms it operates on. Through participation in the Accelerator, the Maldita.es team is looking to enhance a membership business model, understand their audience better through analytics, create deeper engagement with their community to gain more contributions and expertise, and innovate with different storytelling formats.

Ukraine: Tvoe Misto (‘Your City’ Lviv)

Established: 2014. Number of people working for/ contributing to the organisation: 15. Representative/ Accelerator lead: Taras Yatsenko

Mission statement: To foster sustainable development of the local community through better awareness and creating opportunities for discussion of community-relevant issues.

The core activity/ objective that the Accelerator will be funding: Tvoe Misto will use the funds to develop internal strategies, efficiencies and training; undertake deep research into its audience and, in turn, launch new revenue streams. It will also launch a school of practical journalism with universities and upgrade its debate platform. Through participation in the Accelerator, the team hopes to enhance paid subscriptions, services and paywall implementation, and understand more about the values of their audience in regards to content and paying for content.

UK: The Bureau of Investigative Journalism: the Bureau Local

Established: 2017. Number of people working for/ contributing to the organisation: 5. Representative/ Accelerator lead: Megan Lucero

Mission statement: To inform the public about the realities of power in today’s world. Through fact-based, unbiased reporting, the Bureau exposes systemic wrongs, counters misinformation and sparks change. Through its collaborative Bureau Local project it aims to support, reinvigorate and innovate accountability reporting in the UK.

The core activity/ objective that the Accelerator will be funding: Bureau Local will hire a person in a business development role with the aim of exploring and determining viable revenue streams and strategy for the organisation going forward. Through the team’s participation in the Accelerator, they are looking to enhance donations, memberships, business expertise and strategy in their organisation.

Now it’s your turn — apply to our open call

We are inviting news organisations from across Europe to submit an application for the Engaged Journalism Accelerator open call. Grant funding is available for between eight — 12 news organisations that will each receive €35k — €50k and will participate in a fantastic programme of activities until December 2019. The programme, which is supported by the News Integrity Initiative and Civil, provides mentorship, coaching, knowledge exchange, resources and events to help participants make the most of the Accelerator, and help them achieve their objectives.

Organisations applying to the open call will need to meet robust selection criteria in order to be shortlisted and granted funding. The closing date for applications is Wednesday 5 December 2018, giving applicants an opportunity to develop a clear proposal, and giving them time to think about and ensure their application meets the criteria for shortlisting.

Further details about the open call, including how to apply, are on our website at https://engagedjournalism.com/.

We’ll be sharing more details about our first cohort of grantees in the coming weeks, as well as updates about what is in the pipeline for the programme — including our first big event in December. So please do sign up to our fortnightly Engagement Explained newsletter.

This post was first published on the European Journalism Centre's Medium page.

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