European Federation of Journalists

LM4D: How to make local reporting impactful?

The first mentorship workshop was held for the successful candidates of the Local Media for Democracy project this week. Within the project, 17 media outlets across Europe received funding and the opportunity to technically develop their media and projects to help mitigate news deserts in their regions. 

The first online workshop, organised by the International Media Support (IMS), took place on 7 September.

The IMS advisors Iryna Vidavana and Clare Cook led the workshop for the 12 successful applicants from around the EU. This first webinar was centred around the  common element for all projects to focus on – defining their impact hypothesis and creating an impact framework. 

Media must think about how to distribute and promote their products, and how to reach and engage with their audiences. Such impact frameworks help to identify who will be affected by the project, what changes it will bring, what actions are needed to achieve it and how to measure the intended impact,” said  IMS advisor Iryna Vidanava

Diverse projects with common challenges 

The main common challenges identified were: the financial sustainability of the regional media teams, reaching new audiences for local content, deepening investigative initiatives, increasing audience engagement, expanding to neighbouring areas of new deserts and developing the digital presence of their local media. 

One of the workshop’s objectives was to help the participants understand their project’s expectations and explore the options for impact measurements. In one of the exercises, participants had to draft their Impact Hypothesis, i.e. a summary of what they are doing, for whom and why. 

Future support and opportunities

As Iryna Vidanava summarised, setting an impact framework at the project’s start can help implement it most efficiently and bring greater satisfaction to the media outlet and its audience. “In the longer-term perspective, tracking and measuring impact can also help with generating more income, be it public funding, advertising or reader revenue, thus, impact framework may contribute to a greater sustainability of a media outlet,” she said.

The upcoming projects’ mentorship and thematic workshops are based on other applicant’s requests. Based on these preferences, applicants can expect more sessions about audience understanding and research methods, analytics data literacy, engagement and community growth, product development, distribution strategies or revenue innovations for small digital media.

The first workshop about the impact was a precursor to further technical assistance that the media will receive in the coming months. Technical support will also be given to other successful candidates who may apply for the grant in the second round. The deadline for their applications is 28 September. 

In the second round, all local and independent media based in the EU are welcome to apply if they meet certain criteria. However, based on the preliminary study of European news deserts, the priority countries include the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Greece and Bulgaria. 

“Supporting local media throughout Europe is key, not only to fill in the gap in regions, cities and towns, where either municipality news or unchecked social media content is the only source of information. Investing time and resources in sustainability, audience engagement and trust is essential for the future of Europe’s independent media and journalism landscape,” said Renate Schroeder, EFJ Director.  

The Local Media for Democracy project is an 18-month project co-funded by the European Commission and launched by a consortium of partners: the Journalismfund Europe, the Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom (CMPF), International Media Support (IMS), and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ).