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Engaged Journalism Accelerator | Accelerating a more participative…


1. What is engaged journalism?

We define 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 as well as enhance plurality and diversity in a crucial part of society’s information ecosystem.

2. What's an accelerator?

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?

Throughout 2018 and 2019, the Accelerator has been kindly 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 does the Accelerator fund?

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 that need support to finance expansion, business development and/or 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?

The Accelerator has provided grants of between €35k - €50k to 12 engaged journalism organisations in Europe. You can find more about them here

There are currently no plans for further grants as part of this programme. To receive updates about the programme and possible funding opportunities, you can sign up to the Accelerator online community.

6. How did the Accelerator decide which organisations it funded?

Applicants for funding were judged 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 grantees here.

7. What diversity measures do you have in place?

We are committed to ensuring that all aspects of the Accelerator are inclusive and accessible. 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 is passionate about doing journalism for and with communities. 

If you have 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 experience and knowledge to help us promote the Accelerator and grow our network. You can read more about our ambassador network here.

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. You can read more about our mentors here.

10. What are the Accelerator’s principles?

The Accelerator supports 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. What is the Accelerator's policy on providing feedback on funding proposals?

The Accelerator provides guidance about the types of grant proposal that the programme is interested in supporting. This can be found on the Funding section of our website

Unfortunately, it is not possible to to provide feedback on specific proposals ahead of submission. At this point in time, there are no plans for further grants as part of this programme. 

12. Are grantees expected to complete any reporting as part of the programme?

Every month, grantees are asked to fill out a short pro forma to review the progress they are making with their core activity and the experiments that they are expected to undertake. This process provides the Accelerator team with information about the areas that grantees might need support in and allows the team to capture the impact that the programme is having over its duration.

13. Is the Accelerator able to cover participants' travel and accommodation for its events?

The Accelerator sets aside between 10-15 travel allowances per event to help with the cost of travel and accommodation. Applications are reviewed on a first come, first served basis and applicants are told whether they've been successful within two weeks of submission. 

There are currently no plans for further events or travel allowances as part of this programme. To receive updates about future events, you can sign up to the Accelerator online community.

14. How do you decide who receives a travel allowance?

Travel allowances are open to anyone who registers for an event and can explain why attending is a useful professional development opportunity in the context of your current role.

We prioritise employees of small and medium-sized news organisations based in Europe that don’t have a professional development budget as well as participants from the following countries:

- Baltic states (particularly Latvia and Lithuania)

- Caucasus states (particularly Armenia and Azerbaijan)

- Eastern European countries (particularly Slovenia, Slovakia, Serbia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Russia and Ukraine)

- Southeastern European countries (particularly Latvia, Croatia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus and Malta)

At the moment, there are no plans for further events or travel allowances as part of this programme.

  • News Integrity Initiative
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