News media eye monetary diversification with ‘more funding than ever’ – EURACTIV.com

New and collaborative funding fashions are proving essential to media innovation and shall be important to securing long-term sustainability for newsrooms and past.

The media sector has undergone speedy change in recent times, with the rise of on-line platforms and their problem to conventional promoting revenues forcing a elementary rethink of the enterprise fashions that maintain media shops – issues that had been additional compounded by the monetary shock of the COVID-19 disaster.

Quite a lot of initiatives have turned their consideration to this subject, focusing not solely on tackling present gaps within the business but additionally on how this may be carried forwards to foster a extra sustainable media sector general. 

Central to this, stakeholders from the business emphasise, is the availability of numerous and collaborative funding alternatives that make house for innovation inside and between shops.

Solid funding is essential to making sure that media corporations are capable of innovate and take a look at new concepts, Saura Lopez Leal, digital challenge supervisor at Spanish media firm Vocento, instructed EURACTIV. 

Through a challenge run by the Stars4Media programme final yr, Vocento partnered with Swedish tech agency Cruncho to develop an AI-driven information to Málaga, drumming up new income streams for native newspaper Diario Sur

“Sometimes innovation departments [in media companies] don’t have really big budgets in order to test new technologies inside of the company”, mentioned Lopez Leal, including that funding can be regularly conditioned on the profitability of the concept or product being examined, the chance of which is usually laborious to find out. 

“Through this project, you have the opportunity to test something. Maybe you will do very well or maybe you will fail, but you can try the product”, she mentioned. “You take the risk away and test a new idea.”

The cross-border nature of this sort of collaboration can be key, not simply because it means merchandise which might be working nicely in a single nation will be trialled in one other, but additionally as a result of it permits for corporations to share their methods of working. 

“Big companies are sometimes really slow in making things happen”, mentioned Lopez Leal. “When you work with a startup, like our partner [Cruncho], they work in a different way – they are really fast, they are really agile. For us, it was a great way to learn how to work in a different way; this was the most important thing from the experience.”

Jourová requires cross-border media cooperation

“No journalist should die or be harmed for doing their job,” European Commission Vice-President for values and transparency Věra Jourová has mentioned, because the EU ready to centre the security of journalists at an upcoming European News Media Forum in November.

The third spherical of Stars4Media initiatives is about to launch later this yr, this time oriented round medium and enormous information media shops. Through the programme, members may have entry to direct grants and training with the goal of fuelling innovation in both newsroom or enterprise transformation. 

While Stars4Media is co-funded by the EU’s Creative Europe Programme, business stakeholders have emphasised the significance of fostering collaborative and numerous approaches to funding. 

Speaking at an occasion on media transformation and democracy-building on Thursday (12 May), Max von Abendroth, Executive Director of Donors and Foundations Networks in Europe (DAFNE), famous that philanthropy stays an under-utilised supply of funding inside the business. 

In half, he mentioned, that is because of the existence of authorized limitations that stop foundations in Europe from funding journalism as a consequence of the truth that it’s not recognised as a charity exercise. Where it does go to the media, he mentioned, philanthropic funding primarily finally ends up with non-profit journalism organisations, however there exists nice potential for this to be expanded.

Philanthropic backing couldn’t solely assist to offer journalists with the infrastructure they should work safely and securely on and offline, he famous, however might additionally assist to spur media innovation by permitting for brand new enterprise fashions and modes of content material creation and dissemination to be developed and examined.

Another good thing about philanthropy, von Abendroth mentioned, is its potential to “create structures that can neutralise public funding into journalism.”

“We all know that public funding directly for journalism and content creation is problematic because it’s not necessarily independent, or there’s a risk of becoming dependent [on it]”, he mentioned. “There are ways of neutralising this public funding through structures built up by philanthropy.”

Bolstering media independence may also be the goal of the upcoming European Media Freedom Act, set for launch later this yr. Commission Vice-President Věra Jourová mentioned on the similar occasion on Thursday that the act “will enshrine, for the first time in EU law, common standards to protect media pluralism and the editorial independence of the media.”

The EU additionally has plenty of initiatives designed with the goal of funding journalism, such because the Commission’s European Journalism Partnerships, which goal to spice up the sustainability of European information media.

“I think that there have never been so many funding opportunities” on the EU stage, Marie Frenay, a member of Commissioner Jourová’s cupboard, mentioned at Thursday’s convention. The journalism partnerships particularly are a “flagship” programme of the Commission, she mentioned, including “we have a call that is now open and more opportunities will come.”

[Edited by Luca Bertuzzi/Nathalie Weatherald]

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