BRUSSELS - Teams of Belgian and Dutch journalists can again apply for grants for local investigative journalism at Journalismfund.eu vzw. After a successful pilot project last year, Flemish Minister of Media Dalle is making 75,000 euros available for this purpose.
Global problems are increasingly being tackled by local authorities. Migratory pressure, climate change, employment, tourism, housing, prostitution, mobility, ... These are challenges for which we traditionally look to national and international governments, but in practice it is often the local governments who manage them on a daily basis. It is therefore important that at the local level there is also quality investigative journalism, which informs citizens in-depth and keeps governments accountable.
Independent local and regional media are thus crucial for the proper functioning of local democracy. However, there is not much of a critical watchdog on the local level: regional journalists are under pressure and have far too little time to get to grips with dossiers. That is remarkably what many Flemish mayors and aldermen say themselves, according to a study by Erasmushogeschool Brussel about regional press in Flanders.
That is why Journalismfund.eu wants to tackle the shortage of local independent journalism by making time and resources available for local journalists to conduct investigations together across borders. This way, they can compare the results in different cities and towns in Flanders and the Netherlands. Because of this comparison, the research is not done in a vacuum and their findings can inspire cities and municipalities in the different countries. At the same time, the cooperation increases the reach and impact of local investigative journalism. This also makes the local level an ideal laboratory for stimulating journalistic innovation.
A first pilot round last year resulted in four joint investigations by Flemish and Dutch journalists. A nice result was "City of the Future", in which journalists from Brussels and Amsterdam put the challenges and possible solutions for urban problems such as mobility, housing, waste, tourism and language politics in text and images in an original way. Another investigation mapped out the joint, arduous fight against drugs by the ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp.
All the journalists involved indicated that such cross-border cooperation offers great added value. It enabled them to compare their research results from different perspectives. They shared their sources, knowledge and experience, and through this cooperation they were able to raise a local story to a European level. The grant can therefore also be a lever for joining forces much more often in the future, even without additional financial support.
Journalismfund.eu has been providing grants to journalists for over 20 years to enable them to carry out in-depth research. In Flanders, it does so through the Pascal Decroos Fund, but the organisation also has several international programmes. Journalismfund.eu therefore has the ambition to eventually roll out this local project all over Europe. In this way, it wants to increase the availability of quality local news and make citizens more aware of local - and often interrelated and global - challenges and possible solutions. In this way, it wants to contribute to the critical thinking of citizens and well-informed debates, which is essential for a well-functioning democracy.
- Ides Debruyne - ides.debruyne [at] journalismfund.eu
- M. +32 477 34 36 34
- Deadline: 05 November 2021, 12.00 noon
- Applications and more information
- Contact: Kristof Polfliet - kristof.polfliet [at] journalismfund.eu