NEWSLETTER: 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)




In this section VUB Prof. Luciano Morganti, Stars4Media Project leader and Europe’s MediaLab Senior Fellow, remembers Caroline Pauwels, a friend of Europe’s MediaLab who passed away this summer:

Caroline Pauwels, was a friend and a fellow ally of media  freedom and a passionate advocate of the sector’s innovation. Helping foster media health in her own way, as  rector of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Caroline established  Difference Day, showcasing individual professionals who make a difference everyday. 

Caroline was a woman of action who stood behind her words. She was one of  the first supporters of Europe’s MediaLab. Ambitious and driven, she was a mentor and an inspiration to all those around her and will be remembered as such.




DO : Forum


The 2022 European News Media Forum will start on the 10th of November, if interested, keep your timetables clear for that day.  


THINK: Policies


Commission to present new media law, leaving ownership unaddressed (EURACTIV)

The proposed European Media Freedom Act (EMFA), comes in reaction to what the Commission says are a range of issues within Europe’s media landscape, including a lack of convergence between national regulators, insufficient safeguarding of editorial independence, an uneven economic playing field and the fragmentation of the media market. 


Cybersecurity Policy Challenges on the Agenda of the European Parliament Delegation Visit to ENISA (ENISA)

Led by Member of Parliament Henna Vikkunen (EPP), Members of the ITRE committee and several political groups paid a visit to the Athens headquarters of European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) in July 2022. The programme included discussions with the Executive Director, Juhan Lepassaar and the Agency’s experts who presented the major activities of ENISA and engaged in discussions on the key cybersecurity policy files.


UK lays out regulatory model for Artificial Intelligence  (EURACTIV)

Much like the EU, it suggests adopting a risk-based approach but will differ from the bloc by entrusting enforcement to a panel of regulators. The British government presented its “pro-innovation approach to regulating AI” on Monday (18 July) alongside its new Data Protection and Digital Information Bill.


Canada’s Online News Act shows how other countries are learning from Australia’s news bill (NiemanLab)

While governments around the world have begun to engage in the journalism policy space, few efforts have garnered as much attention as Australia’s media bargaining code. It was designed by the country’s competition authority to address market imbalance between platforms and Australian publishers.


A sneak peek into Germany’s new – unbudgeted – digital strategy (EURACTIV)

Germany’s long-awaited digital strategy is set to be adopted by the federal government at a cabinet meeting on 31 August, almost a whole year after the new government was elected. Both delays in the publication of the strategy and the vagueness of its content have drawn criticism from industry representatives. 


Leading MEPs tackle obligations for high-risk AI systems in new compromise (EURACTIV)

The co-rapporteurs Brando Benifei and Dragoș Tudorache circulated new compromise amendments last week, to be discussed at a technical meeting on Tuesday (30 August). The leading MEPs have so far tried to advance on the least controversial part of the text, to make some progress before addressing the most contentious aspects of the proposal.


Czech EU presidency seeks way out of deadlock on European digital identity (EURACTIV)

The Czech presidency of the EU Council circulated last week a new compromise text on the European Digital Identity (eIDs) proposal, a file that has so far seen limited progress due to its technical complexity. The document will be discussed at the EU Council’s Telecom Working Party meetings on 5 and 8 September. National representatives will then be able to submit specific drafting suggestions until 12 September.


European news agencies reinforce Brussels reporting with the launch of the European newsroom (PRESSPORTAL)

The European Newsroom (enr), a joint project of 18 European news agencies, was launched in Brussels today. The aim of the initiative is to reinforce reporting from the heart of Europe, as well as fostering cooperation between international agency correspondents. 


LEAK: Commission to introduce cyber requirements for Internet of Things products (EURACTIV)

The proposal for a Cyber Resilience Act that will mandate baseline cybersecurity standards for all connected devices and stricter conformity assessment procedures for critical products, according to a draft seen by EURACTIV.


Data Act: Czechia pitches compromise on cloud switching, interoperability, governance (EURACTIV)

The 9 September text completes the first revision of the rotating Presidency on the Data Act proposal. The compromise will be discussed in the EU Council on the Telecom Working Party on Thursday (15 September).


Commission releases Media Freedom Act proposal, to mixed reactions (EURACTIV)

While many media organisations have broadly welcomed the Act, others have been outspoken in their opposition to the regulation’s introduction, particularly given that media policy is usually regarded as a national competence. 


Lawmakers urge EU diplomats to scale up response to disinformation (EURACTIV) 

The EU’s diplomatic service should place more emphasis on countering disinformation and develop a coordinated response to Russian narratives about the war in Ukraine, lawmakers said on Thursday (29 September).


Publication postponed (EURACTIV) 

The DMA is set to be published on 13 October. The publication in the EU’s Official Journal was initially scheduled for 26 September, according to an internal document seen by EURACTIV, but was postponed due to technical problems. 




UK tribunal quashes Meta-Giphy deal block, regulator to reconsider ruling (Reuters Institute) 

Britain’s competition regulator said  it would carry out another review of Facebook owner Meta’s (META.O) acquisition of Giphy (American online database and search engine that allows users to search for and share animated GIF files) after a tribunal quashed its original decision to block it.


Google’s update on app system payment raises eyebrows (EURACTIV)

Following Google’s announcement on July 19 that it will open up its systems to competing app stores while also lowering fees, stakeholders suspect it may require attention from regulators when the Digital Markets Act (DMA) comes into force.


Jeff Bezos’ Next Monopoly: The Press (Washington Monthly)

Bezos’s control of Arc ( Washington Post’s content management system) and Zeus (product that improves website speed, commercial perspective, “viewability” and performance of adverts on a site) give him significant power over the news industry. They both allow him to harvest vast amounts of cash from competitors, even as he makes them increasingly dependent on his technology. 


What big media can learn from small startups about digital safety in newsrooms (Reuters Institute) 

While the journalistic community has historically demonstrated a poor understanding and appreciation of the importance of strong information security skills and techniques, smaller outlets are proving they can effectively incorporate strong strategies into their highly adaptive and responsive workflows. 


Google to roll out anti-disinformation campaign about Ukrainian refugees (EURACTIV & Reuters Institute)

Working with Jigsaw, the psychologists from the universities of Cambridge and Bristol have produced 90-second clips designed to “inoculate” people against harmful content on social media. The clips, will run on Google’s YouTube, Twitter, TikTok and Meta’s Facebook, aim to help people identify emotional manipulation and scapegoating in a news headline.


With record antitrust fine, Europe lands blow against Google (Politico)

Margrethe Vestager, Europe’s competition chief, announced a record €4.3 billion ($5 billion) antitrust fine on Wednesday against Android, the search giant’s popular mobile software. It comes just over a year after the Danish politician announced a separate €2.4 billion ($2.8 billion) financial penalty linked to some of the tech giant’s search services. Google denies wrongdoing and is appealing both charges.


After 260 journalism innovation grants, Google has decided smaller and quicker is better (Poynter) 

While others practice a long-term “go-big-or-go-home” strategy, Google’s philanthropy has taken the opposite tack. Ludovic Blecher, who runs the Google Innovation Challenges from Paris, told me. “But we decided that might not be it. … Something funded for one year that could then be expanded … gets to both vision and execution … (and) leads to projects that are truly iterative.”


THINK: Other 


‘National security’ curtain falls down on Greek spyware scandal investigation (EURACTIV)

The Parliament’s committee investigating the use of surveillance technologies (PEGA) zoomed in on Greece, following the revelations of espionage targeting MEP Nikos Androulakis and investigative journalists. 


Novaya Gazeta, one of Russia’s last independent media, banned by court ( EURACTIV & Reuters Institute)

Novaya Gazeta, was stripped of its media licence on Monday (5 September), and in effect banned from operating. On the same day, a Russian court sentenced ex-journalist Ivan Safronov to 22 years in a penal colony after finding him guilty of treason.


IJ4EU fund opens new calls for cross-border investigative journalism (ECPMF)

The IJ4EU fund supports cross-border investigations of public interest in Europe. In 2022/23, IJ4EU will disburse €1.23 million in grant funding to watchdog journalism, along with practical, editorial and legal support.


Gmail creates “Spam Emails”, despite CJEU judgement (Noyb)

Today, (an NGOs who focuses on protecting commercial privacy and data protection violations) filed a complaint against Google with the French Data Protection Authority (CNIL). The tech giant has repeatedly ignored the European Court of Justice (CJEU) ruling on direct marketing emails and used its email platform Gmail to send unsolicited advertising emails without valid consent of the users.