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The Stars4Media innovation exchange programme for media professionals

Stars4Media is an innovation exchange programme for media professionals to accelerate media innovation and cross-border cooperation in Europe.


Challenges facing the media sector in Europe  

Stars4Media is responding to the needs identified by the #Media4EU research project. According to this analysis, media professionals often fail to communicate across “silos” (i.e. commercial, editorial, communication, social media, IT) and to cooperate across borders. Within most traditional media, top management lacks the skills to lead fast changes across editorial and commercial boundaries.

Developed by the media and for the media, and co-funded by the EU, Stars4Media is supporting collaborative initiatives developed by at least two media organisations from two different EU countries. These initiatives should contribute to innovation in new editorial products and formats, emerging technologies or other innovations at the organisational level. Stars4Media Second Edition is the continuation of the first European training programme for media professionals to accelerate innovation and cross-border cooperation. 

Participants are media professionals (mainly young “rising stars”, plus their optional senior mentors), either acting from within a media organisation or as freelancers, collaborating around an innovative idea: a Stars4Media ‘initiative’.

Stars4Media ‘initiatives’ and teams must involve a mix of different media profiles: reporters, data journalists, graphic designers, web developers, social media managers, user experience and marketing specialists, data and AI experts, etc. Stars4Media ‘Initiatives’ are innovative ideas developed during 4 months by small cross-border and cross-disciplinary teams of media professionals, focusing on one of the three thematic waves:

  • Journalism, Trust and Participation
  • Media Technology and Marketing
  • Other Innovations

Innovate your media and cooperate across borders on new solutions for journalism! 

WHY participate? 

As a media professional you will:

  • Cooperate with another European media organisation for 4 months
  • Benefit from the guidance and coaching of international media experts to test an innovative idea
  • Gain practical skills in areas such as quality reporting, data journalism, AI and translation technologies, marketing, business development, and social media
  • Join a community of media innovators from all over the European Union
  • Receive a grant of 5 400€ per participant
As a media organisation or tech company you will:

  • Test new editorial and technological products and new business models across borders
  • Grow your network with innovative media and tech companies in Europe
  • Develop and motivate your staff and future management
  • Receive a grant: up to 16 200€ per media organisation (in the ideal case of 3 individuals per organisation)
  • Exchange best practices with innovative media organisations


Stars4Media First Edition (2019-2020)

For its first edition, Stars4Media supported 21 innovative partnerships, bridging 100 media professionals from 17 countries. Out of all beneficiaries, 47% are women, 30% work as journalists, while the rest come from other professional backgrounds such as content marketing, social media management, editing, engineering,  and business. 18% of the total participants are freelancers. Overall, 41 proposals have been evaluated, and 21 ideas, the best and most promising, have been selected. More information on the 21 selected initiatives can be found here.

Following the 12 weeks of collaboration between media organisations, involving both physical and virtual cooperation, and the evaluation of the deliverables, 5 prizes were awarded to the outstanding initiatives during a virtual conference in October 2020. Watch the event video here.

About the Consortium

SMIT stands for Studies in Media, Innovation and Technology. SMIT is a research group part of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and IMEC. VUB’s SMIT is the consortium leader.

Europe’s MediaLab (Fondation EURACTIV) is a think-and-do tank for the health of the media sector in Europe. It contributes to a healthy democracy and the emergence of a European public sphere. It is the initiator of the Stars4Media project.

WAN-IFRA is the global organisation of the world’s press. It is a global network of 3,000 news publishing companies and technology entrepreneurs, 60 member publisher associations representing 18,000 publications in 120 countries.

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) is the largest organisation of journalists in Europe, representing over 320,000 journalists in 72 journalists’ organisations, across 45 countries.

This project was voted as a Pilot Project by the European Parliament into 2018 and 2019 EU budgets (see the list of moral supports, including 15 MEPs and 13 media outlets).

This project is co-funded by the European Commission’s DG CONNECT (grant agreement number: LC-01590082).