You can't change what people don't know

The first step in raising awareness of human rights violations, climate change, organised crime and large-scale fraud is revealing them. Citizens must be fully informed, which is an essential condition for a critical democratic debate. And that’s exactly what journalists do: they search, dig and examine. They discover, reveal, expose. They tell their stories to readers, listeners and viewers, aid organisations and policy makers, who can then start doing what they each do best to fight those abuses.

Journalismfund Europe supports journalists in doing this job by giving them the money they need to do their research, by providing networking opportunities, by sharing knowledge and by building their capacities. It 's a citizens' initiative that ultimately seeks to see the citizens better informed.

Journalismfund Europe maximally monitors the independence of the investigations it supports and protects journalists from all possible influence by donors. It functions as an intermediary and firewall.

NGOs, governments, philanthropic organisations that work with Journalismfund Europe therefore share at least two basic principles:

  • Change can mainly be achieved by informing citizens thoroughly and to a high standard
  • Independent investigative journalism creates much more impact through its credibility and depth than on-demand journalism. If you want journalism with maximum impact, the donor is therefore best kept as far away as possible from the journalist. Otherwise there is a danger that the credibility of the journalist will be undermined, resulting in the opposite of what is intended, and weakening instead of strengthening the independent investigative journalist.

The necessary distance between the donor and the journalist is what Journalismfund Europe provides. Donors agree that we give the decision about which journalistic investigation we support to external professionals. Only on the day of publication do the donors know which projects the jury members have approved. That is the raison d’être and the core identity of Journalismfund Europe - we facilitate independent investigative journalism as an intermediary and firewall between donors and journalists.

Sustainable Development Goals

Journalismfund Europe also wants research topics to come primarily from the journalists themselves, and not from the donors. Nevertheless, Journalismfund is open to topics that the United Nations has established as the global Sustainable Development Agenda for 2030 (SDGs - Sustainable Development Goals). There are 17 objectives and 169 underlying targets. A donor who wants to help realise one or more of these objectives can approach Journalismfund Europe. The targets are broad enough (fighting poverty and famine, health, education, gender equality, sustainable management of water and energy, industry, innovation, etc.) so as not to jeopardise the independence of journalistic choices.

At the same time, Journalismfund strives to provide sufficient resources for topics that fall outside the SDGs (although you can accommodate most of the investigative journalism projects that we have supported over the past 20 years with those SDGs).

Monitoring impacts

As mentioned, the most important impact of investigative journalism is that citizens are better informed. This impact is not immediately visible and measurable. However, some investigations also lead to more visible forms of impact and change. To map this out, Journalismfund Europe asks grant recipients to report the impact of their story in these three areas six months after publication:

  • Reach: estimation of the reach of the story, based on the original publication / broadcast, social media, acquisition in other media, etc.;
  • Debate: articles and mentions in other media; debates; responses from organisations, civil society or politics; presentations at conferences or other forums; journalistic prizes and awards;
  • Accountability: changes in legislation or policy, layoffs, legal actions.

Finally, the projects that Journalismfund Europe supports have a fifth important form of impact: journalists gain valuable experience from them, and they generate cross-border networks and long-term partnerships  that develop new journalistic stories in the future.

Like its donors, Journalismfund Europe wants the results of journalistic investigations to have a maximum reach and therefore create a greater chance of impact. Journalismfund Europe therefore helps to maximise the reach of publications. To that end, it has a database that it has built up during its more than 20-year existence. Journalismfund Europe not only pushes the stories through existing news platforms, but also helps to alert civil society and other organisations to the newly published studies in their area of interest. This way they can assist not only with the distribution, but also with possible change.