An open letter from the team at the Engaged Journalism Accelerator

You know the problems that European journalism faces as well as we do.

Quality journalism is under pressure, and so are the revenue streams that fund it. Trust in the media is at its lowest point in decades. The attention of audiences is no longer a given and public discourse across Europe is fractured.

There are reasons to be hopeful though. News organisations are bucking the trend of distrust and decline. In many cases, they are doing journalism that empowers communities and their conversations.

What’s interesting to us is that these news organisations spend more time talking to, being embedded within, and providing a service to their communities than most.

Their journalists care passionately about the things the community holds as important. They ask questions and develop stories on their users’ behalf, rather than for their own ends or means. They think about their daily challenges and how they might help.

On some stories, the reporting process is shaped by community members and often these people actively participate in newsgathering. Openness and collaboration are key tenets of these news organisations, both in the way they interact with local groups, volunteers and sources but also each other. All of it goes a long way to creating trust and loyalty.

Editors too have a better sense of what makes their communities tick.They look to channel user feedback into reporting that creates more impactful relationships with their readers, listeners or viewers. The things they learn help them to commission stories that not only pique the community's interest, but provide context, explanation and fresh perspectives.

We call this process ‘engaged journalism’ — that is, journalism where engagement with a clearly defined community is central to everyone’s jobs, goals and purpose.

Not something that’s an add-on or something done by one or two people in the organisation, but something taken seriously by everyone, all the time.

Let us be clear: engaged journalism is not a new idea. But it is an idea whose time has arrived.

We believe it provides the best chance of combatting the challenges we all face: that of restoring trust in media, of developing new sustainable revenue models, and providing citizens with the diverse sources of information they need to make informed decisions.

If that’s something you believe in and you’re curious about doing journalism in this new way, you’re the kind of person that we want as part of our new and unique Accelerator network. Just fill in the form to get involved and we’ll be in touch soon.

Thanks for reading,

Kathryn, Madalina and Ben 

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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • When will applications for the Accelerator grants open?

    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. In winter 2018, we will select a further number of organisations through an open call for applications. For both the closed and open call, organisations will need to meet a robust selection criteria in order to be shortlisted and granted funding.

    More information about how to apply for the grants will be available in October 2018.

  • How will you ensure diversity in the Accelerator?

    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.

  • 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.

  • What are the Accelerator’s guiding 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
  • 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 or @ejcnet.

Join the Engaged Journalism Accelerator’s network

I am interested in being involved in the Engaged Journalism Accelerator in the following ways *:

Being an ambassador and contributing my experience
Attending an event/conference
Being part of the mentorship network
Working on research about engaged journalism

Would you also like to be sent a regular email newsletter about engaged journalism in Europe?

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I agree that my information will be used for contacting me to follow up on my answers in this form. All processing will happen according to the EJC’s Privacy Policy *

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Kathryn Geels
programme director
Contact for: programme strategy, grants, stakeholder & research partnerships, and impact

Ben Whitelaw
engagement lead
Contact for: resources (toolkits, case studies), communications and grants

Madalina Ciobanu
project manager
Contact for: coaching, mentorship, peer-to-peer learning, engaged journalism events


The Engaged Journalism Accelerator is a programme delivering grant funding, coaching, mentoring, resources and events to support engaged journalism in European news organisations. It launched in April 2018 and is entirely run by the European Journalism Centre (EJC), an international non-profit headquartered in The Netherlands.

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