Investigative journalism in the public interest

IJ4EU’s mission is to strengthen the watchdog role of investigative journalism in Europe. Its focus on supporting cross-border projects acknowledges the increasingly transnational nature of public-interest stories.

Its purpose is to foster and strengthen collaboration among EU-based journalists and newsrooms through providing them with grant funding, coaching, training, expert support and networking opportunities. It also seeks to raise the value of and incentivise quality investigative journalism through launching a new award.

IJ4EU was first launched in 2018, supporting 12 projects across a diverse range of topics with €350,000 in grant funding. In 2020/21, IJ4EU provided €1.07 million in grant funding to 49 collaborative projects, along with other forms of assistance including training, editorial and practical support, networking opportunities and legal support.

In 2021/22, IJ4EU distributed €1.1 million through two grant schemes. One is the Freelancer Support Scheme, for investigative projects carried out by teams made up exclusively of freelance journalists. The other is the Investigation Support Scheme, for all other investigative projects.

In 2022/23, IJ4EU has €1.23 million for grants under both schemes. In addition, the programme will offer expanded training and networking opportunities.

Independence is a central pillar of the IJ4EU funding model. Donors to the IJ4EU fund are not permitted to influence the selection of projects and the IJ4EU project partners are committed to protecting the editorial independence of grantees.

Project partners and areas of work

IJ4EU is managed by a consortium led by the Vienna-based International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists for press freedom; and together with the European Journalism Centre (EJC), an international non-profit headquartered in the Netherlands, focused on building resilience into journalism through grants, events, training and media development; and the Germany-based European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), which promotes, preserves and defends media freedom by monitoring violations, providing practical support and engaging diverse stakeholders across Europe.

The objectives of IJ4EU rest on five key pillars: funding, support, independence, inclusivity and safety. We believe that cross-border investigative journalism is central to the sustainability of European democracy. We aim to offer opportunities for journalists to work innovatively and collaboratively – both essential qualities for journalism to engage with the public interest.

Grant funding. IJ4EU aims to channel direct funding to where it is most needed via two schemes, one offering a wide range of grants to teams that include a newsroom element and the other exclusively serving the needs of freelancers. The Investigation Support Scheme is managed by IPI and the Freelancer Support Scheme is run by EJC.

Mentoring, training and expert support to grantees. IJ4EU provides training, mentoring, legal counselling, editorial support, advocacy support and other practical support and guidance to grantees — especially freelancers — to enhance skills development and ensure the success of the individual projects and teams, and of the IJ4EU project overall.

In 2022/23, IJ4EU will introduce public “Cross-Border Masterclasses”, to be held in the run-up to calls for grant applications. The free online workshops will help journalists of all experience levels develop ideas for cross-border stories and, where needed, find partners to collaborate with. In addition, the programme will offer grantees training in coping with online harassment as well as training in mitigating legal dangers.

Networking. IJ4EU’s UNCOVERED Conference on European cross-border investigative journalism, organised by ECPMF, highlights the work done under the IJ4EU fund and serves as a platform to discuss issues and trends as well as challenges to collaborative cross-border investigative journalism. The first edition of the conference took place in January 2019 in Berlin and the second edition was held online in April 2021. The third edition took place in Berlin in April 2022. The next UNCOVERED Conference will take place in the autumn of 2023. Meanwhile, stipends will be available for grantees to attend Dataharvest: The European Investigative Journalism Conference in Mechelen, Belgium, in May 2023.

IJ4EU Impact Award. Launched in 2020, IJ4EU’s Impact Award incentivises and raises the profile of quality investigations through monetary prizes for cross-border investigative journalism. The prize is open to cross-border projects whether or not they were funded by IJ4EU.

In defending the right of journalists to do their job, IJ4EU works in partnership with the Media Freedom Rapid Response network.

Project supporters

The IJ4EU programme is supported by the European Commission (DG Connect) as a Preparatory Action. It is also supported by co-funding from Open Society Foundations, Fritt Ord Foundation, Fondation Nicolas Puech and the City of Leipzig. The IJ4EU partners are grateful for the support of all donors to the project. The programme maintains complete independence from donors in the selection of projects and strictly guarantees the editorial independence of all grantees.