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No, the European Journalism Centre is not changing its name.


No, the European Journalism Centre is not changing its name.

Picture of Adam Thomas
Adam Thomas — Director
March 29, 2017

But there is something else we should change.

Let’s face it, the European Journalism Centre is a terrible name for the place I work. Apart from the fact that people confuse us with the European Juggling Convention, I’m not sure where to even start explaining why.

Our work is not solely European. Our media development team have done fantastic work already this year in Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Kenya, Senegal and Bolivia. Our new Press Released series has an international focus. The New Arrivals is reporting on migration from across the global south. The Innovation in Development Reporting grant series we run features amazing applications looking at hundreds of countries each round.

Journalism is a term that limits us. That is our core, but our remit includes literacy and training with a far wider remit — data, analytics, social, crisis response — and for a far broader audience. We count NGOs, legal bodies, educators, activists, governments and, frankly, anyone with a smartphone among the beneficiaries of our work.

And we’re not a Centre. Not in the traditional sense of the word. We don’t have rooms you can train people in, very rarely do people visit our premises to learn stuff (we usually come to you), and we don’t have suites of expensive educational technology and libraries of pedagogical material.

Yet, we’re not changing our name. It is actually perfect for us, and here’s why.

We are European, deeply. Our core team of 17 features at last count 13 nationalities, speaks numerous languages, and we have a community of 100k European journalists who in one way or another have received a grant from us, attended an event, used our technology and platforms, or learned something new from one of our courses. Our best initiatives cross borders to spot international patters and solve international problems. We live this collaboration every day.

Journalism is exactly what we’re about. And not just any old journalism. Media, press, publishing — none of these terms quite work for us. We believe in a journalism that is ethical, sustainable, and innovative. All overused words in relation to journalism (perhaps not as much as “quality”), but the sentiment holds. We believe some things about journalism should change (quickly), and some should not (ever). If journalism strikes the right balance, there’s a vital place for it in the brave new world we’re experiencing.

We are the centre (of something). While our centre is not physical, the name suggests a repository of expertise and a focal point for thoughts and activities. There are many such organisations across Europe, and the world, and I would hope that we are one of them. We’re privileged to be connected to a lot of smart people doing interesting things — communities around data journalism, verification, philanthropy, journalism jobs, emergency response and many more.

So, we’re not changing our name. We are the European Journalism Centre.

But we are going to change how we talk about ourselves. My self-reflection about our name arose from a rebranding process we’re undertaking.

(Yes, I too shuddered when I read that last sentence. Rebranding process. Sentences that contain those words are usually followed by “public backlash,” “colossal waste of money,” and “reverted back to the old logo.”)

This isn’t about logos. For the record, our old one was chosen as the winner of a design competition. That’s generally a bad idea. This process is about more than that.

It’s about finding out how we help people and what they value us for. And what we aren’t valued for, but maybe should be. Just as with my first 100 days experiment, we going to be transparent about this whole thing. Most rebranding processes that fail, fail because they take place in a boardroom, not out in the open. Rebranding needs to be a conversation, not a broadcast.

So you’re going to be part of that conversation.

I’m going to publish our processes, the results of our research, our journey to new visual designs and how we are developing new ways to talk with our audience. And I hope you’re going to tell us whether it’s any good. Sound like a deal?


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