Stars4Media NEWS is a pan-European funding and coaching programme that supports European news organisations to achieve long term Business and Newsroom transformation. The programme is co-financed by the Creative Europe scheme of the European Commission and is implemented by a consortium of four partners: Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), the project coordinator, Europe’s MediaLab (Fondation EURACTIV), WAN-IFRA, and the European Journalism Centre (EJC). The project is co-funded by the European Commission.
The third edition of the Stars4Media programme increases the size of projects, the financial support, and the depth of coaching.
Stars4Media NEWS programme is not just about financing ‘good’ project ideas. It is primarily about providing media companies with tools, resources, skills and expertise to make their business and newsroom transformation sustainable. Stars4Media NEWS will provide financial support and in-depth coaching as well as peer-to-peer knowledge transfer for cross-border collaborative projects.
In a nutshell:
- Stars4Media NEWS welcomes Projects in 2 main areas: Newsroom Transformation and Business Transformation;
- Benefits: up to €100,000 per project, including up to €88,000 cash support + in-kind tailored coaching and training throughout the project;
- Length of the programme: minimum 4 months, maximum 10 months.
- 14 Projects will be selected to enter an EXPLORE Phase: experimenting innovation ideas, with a benchmarking partner in another country. 9 of these 14 projects will then be selected to continue in a BOOST Phase: deeper and wider in the development and implementation of their ideas;
- All projects selected will be able to benefit from ad-hoc and in-depth coaching from recognised experts in the newsroom and business transformation;
- Participating companies will cooperate cross-border with another media organisation for a period of 4 to 10 months.
- The application deadline is set for 30 June 2022. The 14 selected projects will start in November 2022.
Eligibility and Programme Framework
Candidates can submit projects under one of the two following tracks:
Track 1: Collaborative Business Transformation projects (around 50% of projects selected)
Business transformation will gather projects whose scope is the partial or total transformation of the company, with an impact on one or several departments and/or workflows. This track could cover topics like diversifying revenue models; new approaches to audience engagement and monetisation; development of common professional/technical standards; to quote just a few.
Track 2: Collaborative Newsroom Transformation projects (around 50% of projects selected)
Newsroom transformation will gather projects whose scope is the partial or total transformation of the newsroom, with an impact specifically on the functioning and organisation of the editorial and news content production activities. It could cover dimensions like adjusted reporting methods; innovative production methods; innovative distribution methods and new formats; innovative tech solutions for newsrooms; collaboration tools and techniques; workflow optimisations, internal culture etc.
A total of 14 projects will be supported in the first phase of the Programme “EXPLORE”. Of those 14, only 9 will access the following phase called “BOOST”.
Phase 1 – EXPLORE is focused on the exploration of media innovation
- Duration: 4 months
- Number of Projects selected: 14
- Grant amount: in the EXPLORE phase, for a typical project of two partners (media companies based in two different countries): €24,000 (€12,000 lump sum award for each participating media)
Phase 2 – BOOST is focused on the transformation of the newsroom and/or business
- Duration: 6 months
- Number of Projects selected: 9
- Grant amount: in the BOOST phase, for a typical project of two partners (media companies based in two different countries): €64,000 (€32,000 lump sum award for each)
Given the limited duration of both phases, there should be clear convergence, from the initial application stage, between:
- the EXPLORE focus (an innovative project with transformation potential, eg possible roll-out, and gaining internal momentum), and
- the BOOST phase (implementing or widening the innovation at hand, or working on prerequisites for further changes later, eg HR selection and motivation, training, IT, external comms, etc).
Overall, flexibility and simplicity are the core principles: whatever helps the media’s competitiveness is welcome. Throughout both phases, participating teams will benefit from coaching, mentoring and training, including tailored support provided as ad hoc and regular advice.
Each participating company will have two reference persons to deal with a Process Coach (project management and change process) and a Transformation Coach (specific advice or benchmarking on newsroom transformation or business transformation).
Who can submit a project?
Medium-sized and large media organisations: We are looking for mostly medium (25-200 employees) to large (>200 employees) news organisations. Smaller organisations and tech companies can also join as long as they partner with a larger news organisation.
Composition of participating teams: A wide variety of media professionals! The project teams must involve a mix of people from business, technology and newsroom which cover different media profiles: Sales directors, marketing specialists, editors, reporters, data journalists, graphic designers, web developers, project managers, social media managers, user experience, data and AI experts, etc.
A typical project includes two media organisations, based in two different participating countries: Participating countries include: All EU member states; Iceland; Norway; Liechtenstein; Albania; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Montenegro; North Macedonia; Serbia; Georgia, and Ukraine. Other Eastern European countries are allowed under a specific subcontracting model.
How to participate?
To submit your project, download, fill in and upload the application form.
The deadline for submissions is Thursday, 30 June 2022, 17:00 CET.
To evaluate your overall admissibility as well as the alignment of your idea with the scope of the Stars4Media NEWS programme before the deadline, interested applicants are encouraged to fill in this two-page checklist.