European Federation of Journalists

New EFJ study: Sustainable innovative journalism and new business models

Today, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) published a report examining initiatives that aim to promote sustainable innovative journalism, including those that explore new business models. This report, written by international media expert Marc Gruber follows and updates a previous report on digital journalism and new business models and a workshop held in 2018.

Against the backdrop of a collapsing traditional business model for media, journalism has to constantly reinvent itself and be viable and financially sustainable. Structured in six sections, this report provides numerous examples and approaches that show common trends and ideas to reach this much-needed sustainability and innovation. The survey found that successful media are those that offer strong engagement with their diverse audience – from hyperlocal to pan-European – and create alliances. Good financing practices include the creation of non-profit foundations and not relying heavily on a single source of funding.

“The market failure in journalism is pushing journalists to the edges. On the one hand, it is a chance to launch new independent innovative digital start-ups with journalism as the main focus and journalists being their own publishers. On the other hand, it is an enormous challenge to not only create niche journalism for a literate elite but also new models which sustain public interest journalism at large,” said Renate Schroeder, EFJ Director, who edited the survey. “We hope this timely survey gives new incentives to media professionals; be it on non-profit, private or public foundations sustaining journalism, slow-, hyperlocal-, cross-border- or multilingual journalism, blockchain, app-based, podcast or any other related funding model or new tool.”

The report also emphasises journalists’ unions’ and associations’ role in the process of innovation, through promoting and encouraging initiatives. “Journalists’ organisations have a responsibility to promote a pluralistic and diverse media ecosystem and to engage with the public authorities in their countries to do this.” The report includes an extensive checklist for media, journalists and journalists organisations on trends and recommendations. The recommendations for journalists organisations include advocacy for public funding at arm’s length, in particular for local media and to provide training to their members in order to develop new skills.

The full report can be accessed here.

This activity is part of a two-year project “Trust in Journalism” launched by the EFJ and is co-funded by the European Commission (DG EMPL).