NEWSLETTER: Media support: bridging silos of public, corporate, philanthropy programmes

Media support: bridging silos of public, corporate, philanthropy programmes 


As the stakes rise for media companies, aid grows, but fragmented approaches and short lived projects are impeding full impact. Strategic coordination, referrals, shared gateways and coaches are required. 


Europe’s MediaLab reports about numerous media innovation programmes and the need for an overall media sector strategy. The slow progress of the Media Freedom Act (more inside) should not slow down practical help for media , increasingly urgent. There exist multiple ways to do so: let’s address the big picture behind them.


Getting better informed public spaces is key to preventing the ‘parents’ populism, nationalism and their ‘enfant terrible’: warmongering. A healthy press may not stop the current Russian aggression, but perhaps prevent the next war? *. 


This, along with many structural factors, is the reason why the philanthropic sector wakes up to its role in the media sector. More foundations can follow these pioneers, as Max von Abendroth wrote in this newsletter’s previous Edito on ‘Philanthropy for Journalism’.


In many countries, and at European level, good public aid schemes do exist. Since the beginning of this EU mandate, notably under the Media and Audiovisual Action Plan, ressources are finally increasing, under the heading NEWS, to support  technological uptake  and transformation, beyond the usual editorial cooperation for  coverage of  EU happenings.Corporate programmes are also welcome, such as the large ones financed by Google and Meta. When they are also managed directly by the platforms, additional issues of perception and ulterior motives may arise: media beg for money those accused of neglect for copyright and advertising dominance.


From all three funding categories – philanthropy, public and corporate – such media support programmes are worthwhile, and also trigger goodwill for the funders. However, do they reach the average news publisher, a medium-sized company with no idea about public affairs. Even large media typically  have   no bid expert, they compete mainly for editorial awards.. If Publishers or Editors ever read calls for proposals, are they not scared by the depth of administrative requirements, the width of expected partnerships and decision times? 


There are solutions to these issues, based on goodwill, and a sense of urgency. Notably using non-profit organisation selecting third parties (delegating project selection and monitoring), and independent juries. This cuts the admin burden and decision times while ensuring independence. Public funds and corporate sponsoring, like those co-led by the authors of this piece, and many others indeed, pursue converging aims. They should not be considered  competitors, but potential allies for the media sector’s health.


To reach wider impact and transform the media faster, we need at least five joint efforts:

  • a mapping of who does what and building a shared vision based on common ethical principles, such as to ensure transparency and respect for the editorial independence of supported media  (perhaps updating from past reports of the Journalism Funders’ Forum?)
  • strategy coordination, to strengthen complementarity between all funding sources (a special workshop at the next European News Media Forum? building on communication efforts as suggested in this press release)
  • a joint gateway, such as a website and newsletter helping navigate the programme maze and self-select, not limited to one type of funding (topic for an ad hoc project?)
  • coaches (yes, not more handbooks, but experienced humans, preferably paid), able to steer and critically review draft applications.
  • in some cases, moving forward  with programme co-fundings or even mergers? (let’s be goal-driven and consolidate our ‘cottage industry’?).


We,from different categories, would love to hear from you, and take such joint initiatives.   

In the meantime, enjoy Summer!


Paolo Cesarini                                                                                                                                                                                                  Christophe Leclercq @LeclercqEU

(co-leader of EMIF, corporate funded,                                                                                                                      (initiator of Stars4media, mostly EU funded, led by  

under scientific supervision of EDMO)                                                                                                                       VUB with WAN-IFRA and EJC.                                                                                                                                                                                               & Chair @ Europe’s MediaLab)

Both are former EU Commission officials: Paolo C. until 2020, Christophe L. until 1998


 (*Most wars are prepared by a (dis)information escalation. As a Frenchman born in Lorraine, Christophe Leclercq is well aware of the 1870 war (including annexation of a region, like in Crimea), leading to the ‘trench war’ of 1914-1918, and then to the ‘all out’ war of 1939-1945. 

Putin now wages his second war against Ukraine: can we try to inform Russian citizens against this aggression, and prevent a third surge of imperialism? And maybe one day achieve mutual understanding – or even friendship – like between France and Germany today? 

Press freedom and EU enlargement will make Ukraine a beacon for Russians. Meanwhile, out of 90 media applying for Stars4media funding, statistics show an encouraging 12 are from Ukraine, Russia (exile) and Belarus (exile))




Record application to Stars4Media NEWS, helping business and newsroom transformation (Stars4Media)

The Stars4Media NEWS Call for projects closed on 30th June with great success. A total of 48 eligible project proposals were presented by 90 media companies, from 24 countries. These numbers clearly show the recognition of Stars4Media  and of its consortium partners: VUB, Europe’s MediaLab (Fondation EURACTIV), World Association of News Publishers WAN-IFRA and European Journalism Centre (EJC). It also echoes the media sector’s wish to transform itself faster, and cooperate across borders. 


Perceptions of media coverage of the war in Ukraine (Reuters Institute)

YouGov carried out a separate follow-up survey in five countries: Brazil, Germany, Poland, the UK, and the US.


Save the date! European Anti-SLAPP Conference 20.10.2022 (ECPMF)

Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) are legal threats and lawsuits used by powerful individuals and corporations to limit freedom of expression by intimidating and discouraging journalists from gathering and publishing information on public matters. The strategy of using fully or partially unfounded lawsuits against journalists force them to invest time, money, and energy into defending themselves in courts


Commission launches a €4.1 million call to monitor and defend media freedom and pluralism (European Commission)

While €1 million will be allocated to further strengthen the position of media councils and to develop journalistic standards, the other €3.1 million will make sure the EU continues providing a rapid response mechanism to protect journalists under threat after 2023. The mechanism includes concrete tools enabling targeted journalists to pursue their professional activities.


IJ4EU relaunches: €1.23M in grants for watchdog journalism in Europe

Back for a fourth edition, IJ4EU has secured core financing from the European Commission to continue its work fostering collaboration between European journalists as they tackle transnational subjects in the public interest.


Agence France-Presse and EURACTIV supported to fight disinformation on Ukraine

Responding to this urgent need, EMIF opened a Special Funding Round for Ukraine on 25 February. The call ran until 29 April 2022 and received proposals from five countries. Having completed the evaluations, the EMIF will support two projects designed to increase the coverage, depth, and speed of fact-checking activities directly and indirectly related to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.




The ‘News Initiative’


The Commission plans to support news media through:

  • a structured dialogue
  • enhancing competitiveness
  • unleashing innovation
  • nurturing democracy


A structured dialogue

The Commission engages in regular exchanges with the industry to work towards a news media innovation agenda that can help the sector thrive in the digital economy and society. To this end, the Commission set up the European News Media Forum (ENMF) to maintain a regular dialogue with news media organisations, professionals, representatives of the civil society and international organisations.


More information:

Europe’s MediaLab’s presentation last year at the European News Media Forum (Europe’s MediaLab) 

EU leaders must stand up to protect the news media sector (EURACTIV)

Media recovery beyond regulation: a NEWS bundle across Creative Europe and Horizon, like MEDIA (EURACTIV)

Media in crisis? Several funding programmes help modernisation and resilience (Stars4Media)





Media Freedom Act


LEAK: Digital policies in the Commission’s 2022 work programme(EURACTIV)

The EMFA is planned to be adopted in the third quarter of 2022, with the launch of a public consultation set for the first quarter.


The Commission’s aim of increasing transparency of media ownership and influence is set to be codified in the upcoming European Media Freedom Act due for publication in September (EURACTIV)

Eight EU countries have been urged to take measures to protect media freedom and pluralism as part of the 2022 Rule of Law report, published on Wednesday (13 July) by the European Commission. 


Media Freedom: A rebalanced ecosystem and sector consolidation (EURACTIV)

Europe’s MediaLab (Fondation EURACTIV) summarises some of its input into the Media Freedom Act consultation, running until 21 March. Pedro Ortún Silvan and Christophe Leclercq are respectively senior fellow and chairman of this think-do-tank, the latter also a former member of the High-Level Expert Group on disinformation.


The European Media Freedom Act must be strengthened (EURACTIV)

The upcoming European Media Freedom Act (EMFA) is a unique opportunity to tackle the threat of media capture and the threat to media financial sustainability in Europe, and to build a robust and resilient media ecosystem across member states. 


Think: Other Policies


Data retention: Germany’s new plan for a more targeted and time-limited approach (EURACTIV) 

To target child sexual abuse online, the German Interior Minister has spoken out in favour of securing the IP addresses of computers, for which the governing coalition wants to use the quick freeze method.


AI standards set for joint drafting among European standardisation bodies (EURACTIV) 

The European Committee for Standardisation (CEN), the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation (CENELEC), and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) will all be in charge of developing the technical standards for the AI Act.


EU resilience: Council presidency and European Parliament reach political agreement to strengthen the resilience of critical entities (European Council) 

Work will now continue at technical level to finalise the provisional agreement on the full legal text. This agreement is subject to approval by the Council and the European Parliament before going through the formal adoption procedure.


AI Act: leading MEPs seek first compromise on administrative procedures, standards


The AI Act has received over 3,000 amendments in the Parliament’s internal market and civil liberties committees, which have the joint lead on the file. This batch is the first attempt to find a compromise among the different political groups, but for now, it only represents the views of the co-rapporteurs.


France seeks more flexibility for regulatory sandboxes in AI regulation (EURACTIV) 

The French Presidency circulated its consolidated version of the AI Act ahead of the last Telecom Working Party on Friday, putting together the partial compromises it provided throughout its semester and making some final changes to the part on innovation. 


Sneak peek: how the Commission will enforce the DSA & DMA – (Blog of Commissioner Thierry Breton)

Today marks a historic moment in digital regulation with the landslide vote by the European Parliament adopting the Digital Services Act (DSA) and Digital Markets Act (DMA) which I have been working on together with my teams from the very first day of my mandate.


Commissioner hints at enforcement details as EU Parliament adopts DSA and DMA (EURACTIV) 

The European Parliament voted to adopt the Digital Markets Act (DMA) and Digital Services Act (DSA) with a broad majority on Tuesday (5 July). On the same day, internal market Commissioner Thierry Breton provided a ‘sneak peek’ into how the new rules will be enforced.


Think: NEWS


Facebook looks ready to divorce the news industry, and I doubt couples counselling will help (NiemanLab)

Out of every 1,000 times someone sees a post on Facebook, how many of them include a link to a news site? Four. No wonder Facebook doesn’t want to write publishers big checks anymore.


Facebook Rethinks News Deals, and Publishers Stand to Lose Millions in Payments (The Wall Street Journal)

Meta Platforms ’s Facebook  is re-examining its commitment to paying for news, people familiar with the matter said, prompting some news organisations to prepare for a potential revenue shortfall of tens of millions of dollars. This after the EU notably insisted on enforcing copyright legislation imposing payment for media content by platformes


UK journalism has received almost £80m in philanthropy since 2019 but US dominates donations for news (Press Gazette)

Last year, Press Gazette tallied up the amount of funding provided to newsrooms large and small to find that at least £55m of money had been given to fund journalism as of mid-2021. Our current total for funding we know is confirmed until the end of 2022 stands at £77m.


Why won’t some people pay for news? (NiemanLab)

 The role of class in news avoidance, how local party leaders use partisan media, and what native advertising studios say to sell their work.


Tracking Digipower (Sitra)

People’s data is being collected on an industrial scale, often without their understanding, in ways that bridge both the online and offline worlds, according to a report by the Finnish Innovation Fund (disclaimer: I participated in the project underpinning the research).


Battle lines for the future of the internet (Brookings)

When the late Grateful Dead lyricist John Perry Barlow penned his “Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace” in 1996, proclaiming “our virtual selves immune to your sovereignty,” he railed against “the great invertebrate in the White House” and the “Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel.” 

So what would Barlow have thought when, on April 28, 2022, 60 governments, mostly from the industrial world, met (in person or in their virtual selves) at the White House to sign a “Declaration on the Future of the Internet,” initiated by the United States along with Australia, Canada, the European Union, and the United Kingdom?


Meta Hit With 8 Suits Claiming Its Algorithms Hook Youth and Ruin Their Lives (Bloomberg) 

Eight complaints filed in courthouses over the last week allege that excessive exposure to platforms including Facebook and Instagram has led to attempted or actual suicides, eating disorders and sleeplessness.


Germany to allow more companies to set up online (EURACTIV) 

The bill was adopted to supplement the laws transposing the EU Digitalisation Directive on Friday (24 June).

The online certification of commercial register applications will be expanded, and restrictions previously applied to some legal entities will be removed. Certification will also be made possible via video call.


News engagement spirals (Axios)

Engagement with news content plummeted last year compared to 2020, and given the ongoing decline in interest in news about COVID-19 and politics, it doesn’t look like 2022 will be much better.


UK wants online content rules (except for politicians) (Politico)

The much-delayed Online Safety Bill includes hefty penalties for companies that fail to remove illegal or harmful online content such as terrorist propaganda and child sexual abuse. It also imposes a so-called duty of care on social networks, smartphone apps and other sites where people can interact with each other, making them responsible for policing online content and protecting users from harm.