The coming collaboration across Europe

“European media will develop a common vocabulary to test, measure and analyze the diversity and impact of our coverage, newsrooms, and stories.”

2017 will see the rise of a new wave of collaborative European journalism.

Europe is more divided than ever. Traditional barriers of border, language, and culture are being compounded. Isolationism spurred by economic and migration crises is defining politics at the local, national, and continental level. Populism is moving from living room conversations into the ballot box.

adam-thomasAgainst this backdrop, one of the key systems that would normally hold these people and processes accountable — journalism — is facing its own crisis. Traditional business models have been decimated. Voters are unable to understand politics, and less willing to trust a press they feel is complicit in their detachment from the decisions that affect their lives.

Collaborative European journalism is now essential on two levels. First, patterns hide in silos. We’ve seen from the U.S. elections how weak state-level data can obscure a national picture. To be able to understand and inform, European media needs to connect the dots and tell stories on a continental level.

Second, in order to achieve sustainability and impact, news organizations need to resist the temptation to retreat into their bunkers and budget sheets. Journalists need to be open their failings (and successes) in attempting to define new revenue models and forms of storytelling.

We’ve made a good start. Initiatives like the Digital News Initiative, News Impact Summits, Journalism Grants, and Hacks/Hackers are promoting innovation at the European level. Reporters are crossing borders on projects like the Panama Papers, the Climate Publishers Network, and The Migrants Files. Startups from across Europe are being scaled in fascinating places like Next Media Accelerator. Amongst public broadcasters, the EBU does invaluable work at the European level. On the commercial front, Politico Europe and Blendle are making moves with transnational news and audiences. It may not be a truly pan-European media of the type Wolfgang Blau has advocated for (saying “500 million E.U. citizens, 28 member states, and a crisis, but still no pan-European media. Are we nuts?”), but it’s a model for future growth.

In 2017, collaborative European journalism will prevail and scale. Why? Because, with over 10 national elections next year, it simply has to. With migration challenging notions of the nation state, it simply has to. With climate policy impacting our everyday lives, it simply has to.

2017 will see European news organizations working together on cross-border investigations. Journalists will share datasets and pressure European organizations to open up data platforms. Independent bodies will track and cover voting polls, patterns, and problems. European startups will migrate to the new wave of European accelerators and infect news organizations old and new with disruptive, innovative ideas. European media will develop a common vocabulary to test, measure and analyze the diversity and impact of our coverage, newsrooms, and stories.

If necessity is the mother of invention, collaboration is the father. 2017 will see the rise of a new form of European journalism based on working together to report on the issues that divide and connect our continent.

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