Location: Europe (flexible)
Deadline for applications: March 20, 2022
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. With funding from the European Commission and several co-donors, the current IJ4EU project period runs until May 10, 2022.
Please see https://www.investigativejournalismforeu.net/ for more information.
The final evaluation is scheduled to take place during the final month of the project period, from April 1 to April 30, 2022.
Terms of Reference
The programme’s overall objective is to continue the facilitation and development of serious cross-border journalistic research within the European Union, following IJ4EU’s pilot implementation in 2018 and subsequent editions in 2020 and 2021. This is in line with the EU’s objective of encouraging journalistic work on issues of common interest to its citizens and therefore strengthening the European media and the public sphere. Against a backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and a deteriorating landscape for media freedom and pluralism in some countries, the consortium partners consider this objective to be more pressing than ever.
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. Indicators: 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 members states. Indicators: Teams of journalists based in different countries come together to act as watchdogs on issues of cross-border public interest and as shields of solidarity when a colleague faces risks associated with their investigative work.
- Help journalists overcome the pandemic-related obstacles to reporting, information gathering and networking. Indicator: Journalistic teams are able to carry out cross-border reporting projects despite COVID-19 perils and restrictions and contribute to like-minded communities of practice.
- Strengthen the capacity of freelance journalists to conduct complex investigations across borders in the face of COVID-19 restrictions, legal dangers and financial difficulties. 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.
- Promote a more diverse media landscape. Indicators: 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.
- Build up journalists’ knowledge and resilience through training, mentoring and by fostering networking engagement across borders. Indicators: Grantees of a scheme designed for freelancers undergo training and receive mentoring while all grantees get practical support and participate in an IJ4EU conference on cross-border investigative journalism in Europe.
- 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, for example by sharing the #IJ4EU and #MediaEU hashtags.
- Stimulate innovation in the field of European investigative journalism. Indicators: 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; a conference promotes innovation in cross-border investigative journalism.
- Contribute to the sustainability of independent watchdog journalism. Indicator: 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.
- Help build and restore trust in independent watchdog journalism in the face of rampant disinformation and anti-press sentiment. Indicator: Grantees produce and disseminate works of fact-based, impartial investigative journalism that adhere to the highest standards of journalistic integrity.
The activities conducted under the programme consisted of the following: 1) the design and implementation of a cross-border investigative funding scheme, including the establishment of an independent jury; 2) the selection of grantees ensuring a geographical and thematic balance; 3) the provision of practical support and training to journalists involved in the funding scheme; 4) the disbursement of funds and sound financial management; and 5) the dissemination of results and communication with the grantees.
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 mitigate 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?
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;
- 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 May 10, 2022. The final report – which incorporates or has responded to any internal feedback provided on the draft version – should be submitted to IPI by May 25, 2022.
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 group of individuals.
The independent evaluation provider must be strictly neutral, and they will not have had any involvement in the current phase of the project prior to this activity, so as to avoid any potential conflict of interests.
- 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%).
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.
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 shall be submitted by email only (with attachments) to the email address [email protected] with the reference “IJ4EU 2021/22 evaluation”. Deadline for submission: March 20, 2022.
Interviews are tentatively scheduled to take place between March 24 and 25 and these will be conducted remotely to address COVID-19 related health and safety risks.
6. Other considerations
The assignment shall be conducted remotely, following all COVID-19 safety recommendations.
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 euros. The allocated budget includes consultancy fees, and travel and subsistence if relevant and in line with COVID-19 safety rules, and translation costs, if any.