Activity areas

We work in a variety of areas to enable and promote journalistic excellence and media pluralism.

Here are some examples.

 

As a consequence of the EJC’s integrated approach, many specific actions match two or more of the Centre’s focal areas; however, they are sorted below by their main objective.

Please note that the following is only a selection of the EJC’s recent and ongoing projects to illustrate the foundation’s work. Please see the Projects section for a more comprehensive overview.

Journalists’ qualification and networking

Information events for journalists

Almost since its inception in 1992, the EJC is on a regular basis organising and implementing seminars, briefings, study trips, and conferences on EU-related topics for journalists from anywhere in the world; most events take place in the European Union, but many also in the European Neighbourhood or overseas.

The EJC’s philosophy for these events rises above and beyond the mundane level of providing services to the relevant client. All activities under this programme must meet the standards of open, participatory and inclusive democratic communication, and take journalists’ practical requirements as well as the commonly agreed ethics of journalism into account. While tackling specific policy objectives of European institutions, they are a public service in their own right. They stand for a consistent – and most importantly, credible – journalistic perspective at all times.

The gist of the events series is encapsulated in the motto “enabling coverage”: Even practised journalists appreciate professional assistance thoroughly to understand the European Union in the first place, and to be presented with tailor-made opportunities to make contacts, to conduct interviews, to learn about EU policies, procedures, and institutions, and to draft compelling stories afterwards. The adoption of a dedicated journalistic approach to such information briefings has always been a key success factor. Taking the invited participants entirely seriously and interacting at eye level, the events appeal directly to the invited participants’ natural curiosity and professional ambition.

We have learned that insisting on the delivery of high-quality EU information while conscientiously putting it into perspective, many sceptics can be converted, and a great number of previously ill-informed reporters eventually become genuinely excited about European topics.

Sustainable European Neighbourhood Journalism Network

In a consortium with international partners, the EJC has implemented from 2008-11 an online and face-to-face networking and professional qualification project for journalists from the European Neighbourhood countries. Serendipitously, the project period included the peak months of the “Arab Spring”, providing the opportunity to actually see the multi-year efforts towards freedom of the press and freedom of expression come to fruition.

Despite the fact that the project formally ended in 2011, it has not stopped. In a then visionary initiative, before Facebook and others soared, the EJC in 2008 established an online social network for journalists in the area, which enables them to exchange information across borders and political divides, and to collaborate with their peers. The community now has more than 1000 members and keeps growing.

In the fall of 2011, the EJC also organised the project’s official closing conference, entitled “Media Futures: Policy, Politics, and Power” with several hundred participants and high-level speakers. The lessons learned during the project and in particular at the conference were published in the book “Revolution: Share! The Role of Social Media in Pro-Democratic Movements“ (2012).

Qualitative and quantitative study of European journalism and the social situation of journalists in Europe

In cooperation with two partner organisations, the EJC has helped carry out in 2010 a representative survey of professional journalists in the European Union. The primary objective was a feasibility study for a European exchange programme for mid-career journalists in the manner of the Erasmus programme; at the same time, the study looked into the working conditions of permanently employed and freelance journalists and undertook a comparative analysis of news media coverage of EU affairs in the Member States.

The study, which was commissioned by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for the Information Society, has been published by the EU and is a seminal and unique stock-taking of the various dimensions of the state of European journalism. It calls for the development of a culture of cross-border journalism by encouraging and facilitating direct collaboration and peer learning opportunities between reporters from different EU Member States in order to help create a European public sphere.

EJC journalism community

The EJC runs an online community dedicated to connecting journalists from all over the world with their peers. The free-to-use network, which was expressly not set up on Facebook or a similar commercial service, enables its thousands of members to exchange practical information, to help each other with research tasks, and to build trust-based professional relations with colleagues. In dozens of thematic groups, members discuss specific topics and shared interests, and an EJC community manager moderates and stimulates the conversation. Think of the EJC journalism community as the journalist’s LinkedIn.

Media development

Press Freedom 2.0

The EJC is participating in this five-year (2011-15) global media development initiative. The Centre’s activities focus on six out of the eleven developing countries covered by the project: Bolivia, Georgia, Indonesia, Kenya, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. The foundation always follows an integrated approach, involving all stakeholders of the media value chain as comprehensively as possible, i.e., high school and journalism students, working journalists, media-related as well as development NGOs, press associations, and all relevant tiers of media. The EJC also makes sure that cutting-edge technologies and practices such as distance learning, online news gathering and delivery, and mobile applications are an integral component of all training and capacity building initiatives.

The broad geographical scope and the range of the developmental needs of the countries involved are reflected in the various specific measures implemented. For instance, in Bolivia and Georgia, emphasis is on the development and implementation of up-to-date curricula for journalism and media literacy and on enabling and strengthening investigative journalism. This includes conventional training and e-learning as well as scholarships and competitions for investigative reporting.

In Indonesia and Kenya, on the other hand, the programme concentrates on strengthening journalists’ networks and thus the trade as a whole, and on regional, local, and community reporting, thus making sure that impartial and dependable information becomes available where it is needed the most. In South Africa, youth issues and bottom-up youth reporting are the points of main effort.

In Zimbabwe, the EJC assists with the establishment of an independent financial news agency, from founding the institution through the start-up phase up to full-fledged operational capacity, including appropriately trained journalistic and administrative staff and a nation-wide network of stringers and qualified freelance contributors. This initiative answers to the demand in the emerging Zimbabwean economy for objective and dependable business and financial news.

Grant programme on innovation in development reporting

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged their support for a journalistic grants programme that seeks to inspire entirely new, unconventional and high-quality approaches to the coverage of development-related topics in the media of Europe’s countries with the highest development spending, i.e., the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Sweden, Norway, Spain, and Italy. Starting early 2013, individual journalists and journalistic teams as well as media outlets will be able to apply for substantial reporting and research grants in order to implement highly ambitious and even risk-taking cross-media and interactive projects.

The European Journalism Centre will be in charge of the entire grants programme from issuing calls for proposals over making award decisions to supporting the journalists during their work.

Comparative international study of media coverage of migration

In close cooperation with the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, the EJC is coordinating a comparative analysis of how migration issues are reported and framed in the news media of the Netherlands, Germany, France, the United States, and Canada.

The study is expected to show commonalities and differences between prevailing migration-related issues in the participating countries on the one hand, and to provide insight into journalistic practices and biases on the other hand. Results will be presented at the 2013 Annual Forum of the UN Alliance of Civilizations.

Journalistic techniques and innovation

Data-driven journalism

Data journalism is one of the new forms of investigative journalism, expected to bring new types of high quality contents to the media coverage of a wide range of topics. It aims at analysing and filtering large sets of publicly available data for journalistic purposes. Data journalists are able to reveal patterns and information which would otherwise not be available and accessible – helping decision-makers, businesses and other stakeholders in the process. A typical data journalism story employs elaborate visualizations, frequently complemented by interactive charts for use by the news audience.

The EJC is the international front-runner in this area and has played a key role in developing the technique in the first place. From rather humble beginnings at a 2010 Amsterdam conference, which brought together literally all of the about 50 relevant people worldwide who worked on this method, Data-driven journalism has now developed into a massive movement with training seminars and workshops in high demand.

The highly visible 2012 Data Journalism Awards, sponsored by Google, attracted over 300 applications from 60 countries, and the EJC’s activities so far culminated in the publication this spring of the seminal “Data Journalism Handbook”, which is extremely popular even beyond the journalistic community. The Handbook is in the process of translation into several languages, of which the Russian version is already available.

PICNIC conferences on innovations in journalism

Since the first edition in 2006, the EJC has annually organised a session at the PICNIC Festival in Amsterdam, one of the major technology/media events in Europe. With its focus on innovation journalism as the starting point, the EJC's programmes centred on the future of journalism by investigating the role of citizen journalism with bloggers from the Caucasus and Central Asia; new business models for the journalism industry; and what it means to make use of data to enhance multimedia reporting. The most recent 2012 event brought together all themes of the previous EJC sessions: Crowd involvement, data visualisation, and the new role of journalists in digital age under the title "Maps, the Power of the Crowd, and Big Data Verification”.Research and development of cutting-edge ICT tools for journalists

In recent research projects such as SYNC3, which has developed innovative blogosphere and news analysis tools, and CASAM, which created a semi-automatic semantic annotation tool for video news segments, the EJC has served as the journalistic partner and was responsible for conducting extensive user requirements surveys, user evaluations, and usability tests. In this capacity, the EJC is systematically building bridges between the world of journalism and emerging information and communication technologies.

Press freedom and media pluralism

Strengthening investigative journalism and the fight against corruption in Armenia

This project (2009) responded to the issue of corruption in Armenia. More specifically, it addressed the inability of Armenian journalism to uncover and expose such criminal misconduct, and advocated freedom of speech and freedom of information with a view to foster better governance and the rule of law.

In order to reach a generation not yet tainted by the existing system, the main emphasis was put on educating journalism students and law students at Armenian universities. This included reforming in a collaborative fashion the respective curricula to reflect the appropriate values and codes of ethics. Furthermore, the project implemented practical training exercises for both main target groups, and organised training and competitions in the area of investigative journalism. On a study trip to the Netherlands, participants had the opportunity to meet their peers in a leading EU country.

New media initiative for Ukraine

This project (2009-11) promoted the use of innovative media tools, particularly online, in order to increase transparency and access to information in Ukraine and to improve the professional skill level of the country’s journalists in general. To this end, the EJC organised specific training seminars at various levels (regional and national, beginners and mid-career professionals), set up a networking initiative for journalists and the media, and invited high-profile guest lecturers to the country.

Investigative reporting and good governance in Bosina-Herzegovina

In cooperation with the Sarajevo Mediacentar, the EJC implemented a programme for the continuing education of professional journalists in Bosnia-Herzegovina (2008). The action pursued two main objectives: To help raise the qualification and ethical awareness of the country’s journalists to internationally accepted standards against the backdrop of a media landscape driven by overwhelming political influence, and to improve transparency and the fight against corruption. The EJC’s activities were conceived as a pilot programme enabling the Mediacentar to become a flagship educational institution for journalists.


For more information regarding our activity areas or business proposals, please get in touch with Mr Eric Karstens, EJC Business Development (karstens@ejc.net).