European Federation of Journalists

Local Media for Democracy

The existence of a vibrant and independent local media ecosystem serving the public interests of its local communities is a cornerstone for our democratic societies. They are the key to empowering citizens to grasp and exercise their rights in the communities where they live. And they are better placed to gain trust and engagement from their native audience and to confront dis/misinformation. However, the very existence of these media has become uncertain across different parts of the European Union. The robustness of a region’s or community’s local media ecosystem also serves as a meaningful indicator of a state’s vulnerability to media capture, a growing and most worrying phenomenon in Europe.

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) with a consortium of partners, the Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Fredom (CMPF), International Media Support (IMS) and is launching a project “Local Media for Democracy” to help struggling local, regional and community media in the news desert areas in Europe by providing financial support and organisational capacity building. It will start on 1 February 2023 for a period of 18 months. 

The overall objective of the project is to revive the local media landscape with measures to build resilience, independence, and sustainability by improving their capacity in innovation, business strategies, and audience engagement. Ultimately, it will help contribute to building an enabling environment where a pluralistic and independent media landscape in the EU can exist.

The project has four specific objectives: 1) to improve the knowledge base of the regional, local and community news media in the EU; 2) to provide quality and comprehensive data so that policy-makers make relevant and useful media policy to support regional, local and community news media especially those in dire need area, e.g. news deserts; 3) to provide support (both financial and technical support) to improve startup, local and regional media’s capacity to reach underserved communities and audiences with new products and services; & 4) to help local, regional and community news media build resilience and independence.

These objectives will be achieved with two main activities

1) A mapping research on news deserts in the EU with direct research targets from local, regional and community news media or initiatives and those (journalists, editors and managers) working for these media on EU 27 Member States. The expected results will help define and identify existing and future news deserts, challenges and good practices, as well as policy recommendations targeting media stakeholders and national and European policy-makers to address these challenges.  

2) A Media Funding Scheme will provide direct financial support and technical assistance targeting local, regional and community news media or initiatives in EU 27 Member States, especially those operating in areas defined as “news deserts” by the mapping. This action is expected to result in improving the operating capacity of the target media or initiatives (a total of ±30 grantees) so that they can better serve their community with quality and public-interest journalism. 

The main outputs of the project will include:

  • One mapping report on news deserts in the EU with infographics, one interactive map for websites, 27 country factsheets & 3 blog posts on case studies. 
  • ±30 local, regional and community news media or initiatives will receive financial support and technical support (mentorship). 
  • Evaluation reports of the grantees receiving the Media Funding Scheme. 
  • Web pages populated with the project activities. 
  • Dissemination & networking event “Local Media Festival”

This project is co-funded by the European Union.

Views and opinions expressed on this website are however those of the author (s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them. 



Understanding audiences is crucial in an ever-changing digital environment

Audience research methods was the topic of the two workshops organised by the Local Media for Democracy (LM4D) project, as part of a series of workshops developed for this project. Journalists from the first round of grantees of the LM4D Media Funding Scheme attended the two online meetings on the subject.   Understanding audiences in the modern and ever-changing digital environment is crucial not only for developing content and distribution strategies, but also for developing innovative products and business models.  “LM4D offers a capacity building program to assist local media in achieving their project objectives and strengthening their long-term sustainability. The…

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The digital transformation has encouraged local and community media outlets to explore new strategies for audience engagement and content distribution, according to a recent blog post by the Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom (CMPF). Researchers Urbano Reviglio and Danielle Borges surveyed various best practices of local and community media in Europe. They found innovative responses offered by local media outlets to engage audiences amidst the harsh competition of the attention economy. Newsletters are one of the most popular strategies, which are used by media outlets around the region as a tool to deliver customised and specifically-targeted news to their readers.…

Ireland: Local and independent newspaper fights for underserved communities

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Grant recipients receive technical support on improving impact

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17 local media outlets awarded funds to mitigate news deserts in the EU

The LocalMedia4Democracy project is supporting 17 small local media outlets. These outlets aim to serve the public interest in localities and regions where access to information has significantly decreased in the European Union. This grant scheme is operated by Journalismfund Europe and International Media Support (IMS), and co-funded by the European Commission.  The 17 media outlets are from Belgium (1), Croatia (1), France (2), Hungary (2), Ireland (1), Italy (1), Latvia (1), Lithuania (1), Poland (4), Portugal (1), Romania (1) and Spain (1). The total amount distributed among the 17 proposals was €524.265.  Check the list of the granted media…