Photo by Clem Onojeghuo

Location: Europe (flexible)

Deadline for applications: September 30, 2023

Purchase of services for an external evaluation of Investigative Journalism for Europe (IJ4EU): Funding cross-border investigative journalism in Europe

A consortium led by the International Press Institute (IPI) and including the European Journalism Centre (EJC) and the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) seeks tenders from potential providers to conduct a final evaluation of the latest edition of the IJ4EU programme, which supports cross-border investigative journalism in the European Union and EU candidate countries.

With funding from the European Commission and several co-donors, the current IJ4EU project period runs until the end of November 2023.

Please see for more information.

The final evaluation is scheduled for the project’s final month, from November 1 to November 30, 2023.

Terms of Reference

1. Background

The programme’s overall objective is to facilitate and develop serious cross-border investigative journalism within the European Union and candidate countries, not least in places where media freedom and pluralism are at risk.

This is consistent with the EU’s goal of encouraging journalistic work on issues of common interest to people living within the bloc and in candidate countries and therefore strengthening the European media and the public sphere while seeking to safeguard media freedom as a cornerstone of democracy.

The specific objectives and expected results of the programme to be evaluated are:

  • Contribute to a vigorous news ecosystem across Europe by providing the financial resources to enable cross-border investigative journalism for the public good. Indicator: Publication and/or broadcast of a series of cross-border investigative journalism projects.
  • Stimulate and/or bolster collaborative working partnerships among teams of journalists working in different EU member states and/or candidate countries. Indicators: Teams of journalists based in different countries come together to act as watchdogs on issues of cross-border public interest.
  • Promote a pluralistic media landscape. Indicators: Independent media outlets benefit from IJ4EU support in countries where media pluralism is under attack; IJ4EU outreach efforts focus on making investigative journalism accessible to all types of outlets, including local and regional media; grantees publish their stories in emerging media outlets as well as mainstream news organisations, widening the public perception of trustworthy sources of information; the range of players involved in transnational watchdog journalism grows as the ecosystem becomes more accessible to freelancers, emerging outlets and local and regional media.
  • Incentivise ethical and trusted journalism. Indicator: Grantees produce and disseminate works of fact-based, impartial investigative journalism that adhere to the highest standards of journalistic integrity, even in contexts where such journalism is under pressure.
  • Help protect journalists from press freedom violations including harassment, smear campaigns and physical threats. Indicators: Close integration with the EU-funded Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) mechanism; if needed, grantees offered practical and advocacy support through MFRR and/or by IPI and ECPMF; collaborative partnerships create shields of solidarity when colleagues face risks associated with their investigative work.
  • Make investigative journalists more resilient to legal dangers including strategic litigation against public participation and defamation suits. Indicators: Grantees receive legal training; grantees have access to a contingency fund for unexpected legal costs; grantees past and present have ready access to legal support offered by MFRR.
  • Strengthen the capacity of freelance journalists to conduct complex investigations across borders. Indicator: Teams made up exclusively of freelance journalists — including those with relatively little experience of applying for grants or conducting cross-border journalism — tackle challenging transnational subjects and have their work widely disseminated to European audiences.
  • Build up journalists’ knowledge and skills through training, mentoring and by fostering networking across borders. Indicators: Grantees of a scheme designed for freelancers undergo training and receive mentoring; journalists interested in applying for IJ4EU funding attend “Cross-Border Masterclasses” in the run-up to calls; grantees participate in an IJ4EU conference on cross-border investigative journalism in Europe and receive stipends to attend Dataharvest: The European Investigative Journalism Conference.
  • Stimulate innovation in the field of European investigative journalism. Indicators: Journalists are given access to new tools and processes; prizes are awarded to innovative cross-border investigative journalism projects; grantees of a support scheme for freelancers receive training and mentoring in innovative investigative and data journalism techniques; an IJ4EU conference promotes innovation in cross-border investigative journalism; grantees present innovative work and receive hands-on training in innovative methods at Dataharvest.
  • Contribute to the sustainability of independent watchdog journalism. Indicators: Cash-strapped news outlets, investigative journalism organisations and groups of freelancers are able to “keep the lights on” as they carry out investigative work of benefit to the public. Would-be IJ4EU grantees have access to training and advice to improve their immediate and future fundraising chances.
  • Foster debate on common issues across borders, creating a more pluralistic coverage of issues of public interest. Indicators: The publication of cross-border investigations is followed by engagement from the public perceptible through social media.

2. Objectives of the evaluation

An indicative list of the areas of assessment is provided below. The evaluation questions can be further refined by the provider carrying out the evaluation.


Assess whether the funds from the European Commission (and other co-donors) contributed to the development and implementation of serious cross-border investigative journalism across Europe.

  • To what extent did IJ4EU achieve its overall objectives?
  • To what extent did IJ4EU contribute to the development of cross-border investigative journalism projects? 
  • To what extent did the two funding schemes achieve their specific goals?


Assess the extent to which the activities of the IJ4EU programme addressed the compelling needs of investigative journalists in Europe.

  • To what extent did IJ4EU address financial pressures plaguing the news industry?
  • To what extent did IJ4EU address challenges to media freedom and pluralism?
  • To what extent did IJ4EU address pandemic-related obstacles to the pursuit of investigative journalism?
  • To what extent did IJ4EU address the specific needs of freelance investigative journalists?


Assess the changes resulting from the programme (positive/negative, direct/indirect, intended/unintended).

  • What measurable impact, if any, did IJ4EU-supported investigations have on policy, public discourse or any specific outcomes?
  • To what extent has the cross-border element of the project contributed to mitigating the effects of a shrinking space for journalists to carry their work?
  • To what extent does IJ4EU demonstrate that public and philanthropic money can support quality journalism without infringing on editorial independence?
  • To what extent has IJ4EU shown the need for greater emergency funding for watchdog journalism?
  • To what extent did the IJ4EU UNCOVERED conference facilitate innovation, solidarity and networking among grantees?
  • To what extent did the IJ4EU Impact Awards contribute to the recognition of cross-border journalism in Europe as necessary to strengthen the free flow of news across borders? 

Sustainability and replicability

Assess whether the impacts achieved through the programme are likely to be sustained after the current funding period and if they are replicable in other regions.

  • What are the prospects of the programme being sustained?
  • How effective was IJ4EU’s funding model in channelling public and philanthropic money to investigative projects without compromising editorial independence?
  • What are the prospects of the programme being scaled to and/or replicated in other regions?

Learning review

Identify and expand upon lessons learned that have not been drawn in the sections above.

  • This section will cover any key areas that have not featured in the sections above and that may surface throughout the evaluation process.

3. Methodology and Deliverables

The selected provider will:

  • Review all grant-related documents;
  • Assess the impact of published/broadcast investigations that benefited from the support of IJ4EU;
  • Interview staff from the consortium organisations involved in the project, including project managers and senior management;
  • Interview a broad cross-section of IJ4EU grantees;
  • Carry out other relevant activities.

All interviews with grantees will remain confidential and anonymised. During all contacts with stakeholders, the independent evaluation provider will clearly identify themselves as independent consultants and not as an official representative of the consortium behind IJ4EU.

The consultant will provide one draft report (approximately 30 pages long) covering all areas noted in Section 2. It shall be submitted to IPI by November 30, 2023. The final report – which incorporates or has responded to any internal feedback on the draft version – should be submitted to IPI by December 15, 2023.

4. Eligibility Criteria

The selected provider will need relevant subject knowledge and experience conducting journalism-related programme evaluations. The tender is open to both natural and legal persons and groups of individuals. 

The independent evaluation provider must be strictly neutral. They will not have had any involvement in the current phase of the project before this activity to avoid any potential conflicts of interest. 

Award criteria 

  • Quality of the offer (60%), including: 
    • Methodology proposed; 
    • Previous experience in evaluating journalism-related projects/programmes; 
    • Technical competence and experience in conducting evaluation from a distance/by video conference.
  • Financial offer (40%). 

The most promising eligible tenderers will be invited for an interview to discuss their credentials and proposed plan. All tenderers will be informed about the outcome of their submission by email. 

5. Applications

Interested parties must provide a short proposal outlining their approach (two pages maximum). This should be accompanied by:

  • CV(s) of staff who will be involved in carrying out the evaluation; 
  • A proposed methodology for carrying out the monitoring and evaluation;
  • Ideally, one example of an evaluation report recently completed in English. 

Tenders should be submitted by email only (with attachments) to [email protected] using the reference “IJ4EU 2022/23 evaluation”.

Deadline for submission: September 30, 2023

6. Other considerations

The assignment shall be conducted remotely. 

The maximum amount available for the evaluation of the project, covering all the deliverables to be achieved by the selected tenderer as listed above, is €20,000.

The allocated budget includes consultancy fees and translation costs, if any.