BRUSSELS - Four European organisations are joining forces to strengthen cross-border, local investigative journalism in Europe through “Cross-border Local”, which officially launched at 1 March 2022.
With financial support from the European Commission (Creative Europe), Transitions (Czech Republic), SSE Riga Centre for Media Studies (Latvia), the European Federation of Journalists (Belgium), and Journalismfund.eu (Belgium) will undertake a multifaceted, 1.3-million-euro programme that will impact the journalism profession across the continent.
A support programme for cross-border investigative journalism will bring the local to the European level and vice versa, to citizens all over Europe.
Cross-border Local has three main support mechanisms. Firstly, it will offer grants to journalists interested in local, cross-border investigative journalism. Secondly, it will provide training and mentoring in various aspects of investigative journalism. And finally, it will create a mini-MBA for local news media. In more detail:
Addressing the shortage of local independent journalism in many countries, this initiative will award grants to local investigative journalistic projects. A key area will be cross-border collaboration, which will allow participating journalists and/or media outlets to also explore possible solutions that might be working in towns and cities in other parts of Europe. That approach will spur more critical thinking about society’s pressing problems, increase the level of debate, and foster civic engagement. The resulting stories will create awareness among local journalists and citizens that local or regional items often also have an international dimension, and vice versa, that European topics have repercussions down to the local level.
Since local journalists often have little resources or experience with cross-border investigative journalism, this project also foresees a training programme in various aspects of investigative journalism, local audience engagement, and security. The trainings will be organised by experienced partners with a solid position in the field and a vast reach.
The need for innovative sustainable business and management models for local news media will be addressed by organising a mini-MBA for local news media.
This project will target journalists and news outlets from all Creative Europe participating countries (EU and non-EU).
“Local and regional news media are under immense financial pressure as audience attention and advertising budgets increasingly flow to big platforms and other competitors. Local newspapers in particular have been hit hard by disruption to both consumer behaviour and business models and the pandemic has only increased pressures. Across the world we have seen a spate of cutbacks and layoffs, and longstanding titles closing down. This is troubling because local and regional news media can play a critical role in informing citizens and underpinning democratic processes,” states the Digital News Report 2021 from the University of Oxford’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.
The total budget of this two-year project is 1.3 million euro with 80% supported by the EU under the Creative Europe Programme (CREA), Journalism Partnerships (CREA-CROSS-2021-JOURPART). Philanthropic organisations will cover the remainder of the budget.