Europe’s MediaLab, its successes and its future

Europe’s MediaLab, its successes and its future


As Europe’s MediaLab flagship programme Stars4Media announces the 14 winners of its NEWS edition, five of which hosting exile Russian and Ukrainian media,  we look back at projects that have over the years helped the European media and public sphere. 

Created as Fondation EURACTIV in 2003, five years after its older sister the media company EURACTIV, we were built on a new approach of a Think-and-Do-Tank. Since then we have been working on building and strengthening the European policies on media innovation and news independence, as pillars of a sustainable EU public sphere. To reflect this idea, Fondation EURACTIV changed its name to Europe’s MediaLab (Fondation EURACTIV), thus honouring a long track record of activities delivered with both public EU institutions and private partners.


First phase: Language, editorial projects and policy:

EURACTIV versions in French and the policy section “langage et culture”, were supported by the Organisation International de la Francophonie (OIF). 

The EU Journalism Fellowship 2011 – 2013, with support from the Robert Bosch Stiftung and Fondation Hippocrène, trained the “up-and-coming” professional journalists from ten countries on how to report EU policy issues nationally. 36 reporters published an average of 18 articles a week during their training. The training allowed for a two-way process of exchange and feedback between both participants and trainers.

Helping the European Commission, Europe’s MediaLab, was also involved in the High-Level working Group on disinformation. It is now part of the European Digital Media Observatory – EDMO, among others. 


Second phase since 2016: media innovation & european strategy:

The think-tank focused on innovation. Stars4Media launched as a pilot project of the European Parliament, supported by many Stakeholders. Its successful execution led to, so far, two more editions. Concrete opportunities for funding of media innovators evolved progressively from small editorial cooperation to large media transformation.


The first two editions of Stars4Media launched respectively in November 2019 and July 2021. Both were one-year projects initiated by Europe’s MediaLab (Fondation EURACTIV), led by the  Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) (SMIT-Imec) with the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), and The World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), co-funded by the European Commission. The  projects aimed at speeding up media innovation and increasing cross-border coverage in Europe. The programme focused on media professionals (mainly young “rising stars”, plus senior mentors), acting either from within a media organisation or as freelancers, collaborating around an innovative idea: a Stars4Media ‘initiative’. 


The recent, third, edition added a new consortium partner EJC (European Centre Journalist), and is funded by the EU programme Journalism Partnership. This  new phase of the Stars4Media programme, called NEWS, focuses on providing media companies with tools, resources and expertise to make their business and newsroom sustainable. Fourteen larger projects are provided with funding and tailored coaching through two programme’s phases, fostering a long lasting impact.  Building on lessons learnt from Stars4Media we created a strategy document and policy recommendations

Medialab is also a consortium for two EU strategy studies, on media content sharing and media data sharing


Looking back at what was achieved, we see a growing impact. We expanded to more tech and AI, crucial for the future of public policies, such as the EU’s Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act. We will continue to build our community of like-minded experts, like MediaLab’s Senior Fellows, Stars4Media jury members and coaches. 

Democracy needs a media sector that is challenging, prompt in reactiveness and financially sustainable.

Thierry Leroy

(Europe’s Medialab, Secretary General )

Christophe Leclercq @LeclercqEU

(initiator of Stars4media, mostly EU funded, led by VUB with WAN-IFRA and EJC & Chair
@ Europe’s MediaLab)