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 Journalismfund.eu. 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. 

 

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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…

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…

Lack of independent media funding is a major cause of news desertification around Europe

The Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Pluralism (CMPF) published their preliminary study, “News deserts in Europe: assessing risks for local and community media in the 27 EU Member States”. The study, carried out as part of the Local Media for Democracy (LM4D) project, illustrated that one of the main causes for the desertification of accessible independent media throughout Europe is the lack of adequate and sustainable funding for media organisations. For the scope of this project, and in line with the methodology adopted by the Media Pluralism Monitor, the CMPF developed a comprehensive and Europe-specific definition of news deserts…

Interview with media adviser Clare Cook on the challenges faced by hyperlocal media

In the context of the project Local Media For Democracy, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) interviewed Clare Cook, Media Adviser and Business Viability at International Media Support (IMS), the largest media development organisation in the Nordic region. Clare has talked to us about the work of IMS, a partner of the project, alongside the Center For Media Pluralism and Media Freedom (ECPMF) and JournalismFund Europe. She touched upon the topics of digital natives, community and independent media, and the challenges faced by those outlets, especially in news desert areas in Europe. According to the Center for Media Pluralism and…

News Deserts Aren’t New: The cases of Croatia, Portugal and Turkey

The existence of vibrant and independent local media that serves the public interest of its local communities is a cornerstone of our democratic societies. They are the key to empowering citizens to grasp and exercise their rights in the communities where they live. However, the very existence of these media has become uncertain across different parts of the European Union. We spoke to people researching this phenomenon in Turkey, Portugal and Croatia. They spoke to us about the news deserts emerging in their countries, a term developed by US scholars and policymakers to explain the crisis of traditional news media…

What are “news deserts” in Europe?

The article was originally published here. The concept of news deserts was initially developed by US scholars and policymakers to explain the crisis of traditional news media and the vanishing of local news outlets as a consequence of the digital transformation and the 2008 global economic crisis. In an attempt to provide a definition for this concept, some authors have focused on digital accessibility by measuring the availability of broadband and wireless technology in local communities. A second group have focused on linguistic and cultural barriers that leave ethnic communities marginalized and disenfranchised, whereas a third group have concentrated on the quality…