On May 7th, 2020, Scott Griffen, Deputy Director of the International Press Institute (IPI) and Kathryn Geels, Programme Director at the European Journalism Centre (EJC) hosted a GFMD member-only webinar focusing on their ongoing Investigative Journalism for Europe (IJ4EU) grant programme.

About IJ4EU

IJ4EU (Investigative Journalism for Europe) is a fund that supports cross-border investigative journalism in the European Union and EU Candidate Countries, providing grants to teams of journalists or news organisations in Europe investigating topics of public interest. The project stemmed from an initiative of the European Parliament and European Commission to support investigative journalism while allowing the journalists to maintain absolute editorial independence. The programme mainly provides grants to investigative journalists but also aims to provide support to grantees and opportunities for networking with similar organisations. This year, IJ4EU is working with the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) to launch a new monetary prize for investigative journalism, which is open to any projects, not just those funded by IJ4EU.

IJ4EU will provide €1 million to investigative projects in Europe, which should be allocated to 64 projects over the course of the year. For 2020, IJ4EU is providing funding through two different schemes:

  • Investigation Support Scheme for new projects that have not yet started, or have just started. Approximately €800,000 of the fund is being dedicated to this scheme.
  • Publication Support Scheme for projects that are already ongoing but need additional support to continue their work.

Investigation Support Scheme

The Investigation Support Scheme accepts applications from teams of journalists or news organisations that are based in at least two EU Member States or one EU Member State and one Candidate Country. Journalists and news organisations in the UK are also eligible to apply. The project must be on a topic of public interest and must have cross-border relevance. In terms of investigation support, IJ4EU will provide between €5,000 and €50,000 in support for new projects, with the aim of supporting a diverse group of projects. IJ4EU can also support any percentage of a project and does not need to cover the entire project budget. The fund can support any aspect of the investigative journalism projects including salaries, human resource costs, research and production, translation, travel, and administrative costs.

There are two different calls throughout the year. One is currently open (May 5th to June 14th) and the second will open from the beginning of August until September 18th. Applicants are invited to submit applications to both rounds if needed. In terms of selection process, grants are selected exclusively by an independent jury. Neither the donors nor project partners have a say in the selection process. The jury is made up of five experts, including working investigative journalists, and will focus on the strength of applicants’ projects, how much new information is being revealed, the strength of the investigative team, and whether the programme is supporting a diverse range of projects, both geographically and thematically.

For the applications, applicants are asked to provide a description of the project, what new information will be uncovered, a description of the cross-border elements, a description of the team and why they are qualified to carry out this particular investigation, and what the public interest of the project is. The application also asks for an outline of the budget and a justification of the listed costs, a timetable for a project, and a brief risk assessment. For the Investigative Support Scheme, there are publication deadlines in place. For the first round of funding, the publication deadline is December 31st. However, there may be some flexibility due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Publication Support Scheme

Approximately €200,000 has been dedicated to around 32 projects in the Publication Support Scheme and the same eligibility criteria apply as for the Investigative Support Scheme. Each project that is shortlisted will be provided up to €6,250 in grant funding. This is for investigations that are already underway and in the advanced stages of development. There are similarities between the two application forms, however, in the publication support scheme, applicants are also asked to outline what stage of development their project is currently at and what is required to help them finish it. Unlike the investigation support scheme, the shortlisting will be carried out in-house at EJC. Applications for the Public Support Scheme are being accepted on a rolling basis, meaning applications can be submitted at any time between now and the 18th of September.

As for publication dates and deadlines, grants will be awarded for a period between one and five months, and this varies depending on the nature of the request. Investigations can be published in all formats and on a range of topics, provided they are clearly seen to be of public interest and will benefit particular communities or territories.

Bootcamps and Further Supports

As part of the project, IJ4EU provides further assistance to grantees in the form of training, coaching, and legal support. EJC has experience in leading mentorship programmes, which they are using to design bootcamps for all applicants across both schemes. As well as this, EJC are coordinating calls with industry experts to assist grantees with their investigations and publication throughout the grant period. Initially IJ4EU aimed to hold these bootcamps as face-to-face meetings around Europe. However, due to COVID-19, these may be hosted online.

These bootcamps will help develop a network between industry experts and IJ4EU grantees, allowing them to learn from one another and to share experiences. As for calls with experts, organisers will first look at the needs of grantees and reach out to contacts and networks based on their particular needs. The details of these programmes are dependent on the content of applications and issues faced by grantees.

More information about the Investigative Journalism for Europe project can be found here.

Further funding opportunities for journalists and media organisations can be found here. Additional resources for investigative journalists are available on the GFMD Investigative Journalism Resource Centre.