This project is co-funded by the European Union.
The existence of a vibrant and independent local media ecosystem that serves the public interest of its local communities is a cornerstone for our democratic societies.
Local, regional and community media are the key to empowering citizens to grasp and exercise their rights in the communities where they live, and they are better placed to gain the trust of their native audience and confront disinformation and misinformation. The robustness of these media ecosystems also serves as a meaningful indicator of media capture, a growing and most worrying phenomenon in Europe.
Today, however, the very existence of local, regional and community media has become uncertain in many areas of the European Union.
The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) with a consortium of partners, the Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom (CMPF), International Media Support (IMS) and Journalismfund.eu is launching the project “Local Media for Democracy” to help struggling local, regional and community media in the news desert areas in Europe by providing financial support and organisational capacity building.
The overall objective of the project is to revive the local media landscape with measures to build resilience, independence, and sustainability by improving their capacity in innovation, business strategies, and audience engagement. Ultimately, it will contribute to building an enabling environment where a pluralistic and independent media landscape can thrive.
The project has four specific objectives: 1) to improve the knowledge base of the regional, local and community news media in the EU; 2) to provide quality and comprehensive data so that policy-makers make relevant and useful media policies to support regional, local and community news media, especially those in dire need area, e.g. news deserts; 3) to provide support (both financial and technical support) to improve startup, local and regional media’s capacity to reach underserved communities and audiences with new products and services; and 4) to help local, regional and community news media build resilience and independence.
These objectives will be achieved with two main activities:
1) A comprehensive research and mapping of news deserts in the 27 EU Member States. The mapping will be carried out by the CMPF with the aim of defining and identifying existing and emerging news deserts in Europe, highlighting both challenges and good practices, as well as developing policy recommendations for media stakeholders and national and European policy-makers.
2) A Media Funding Scheme will provide direct financial support and technical assistance targeting local, regional and community news media or initiatives in EU 27 Member States, especially those operating in areas defined as “news deserts” by the mapping. This action is expected to improve the operating capacity of the target media and initiatives (a total of ±30 grantees) to enable them to better serve their community with quality journalism.