What has changed?

As of 22 July 2020 the following changes have been made to the Publication Support Scheme criteria: 

  • The maximum grant amount teams can apply for is now €10,000 (it was previously €6,250); 
  • It is no longer compulsory for teams to be physically based in two different countries. Applying teams can now be based in one EU/EU candidate country, provided that their investigation is of cross-border relevance and will be published in at least two countries (at least one of which must be an EU member state).

€200,000 is being provided via the Publication Support Scheme to support at least 32 collaborative projects with up to €10,000 grant funding each project, for investigations that have already been initiated and in more-advanced stages of development. These are projects that need additional, shorter-term support in order for journalists or news organisations to complete and publish their stories.

The Publication Support scheme operates on a rolling basis. Applications can be submitted anytime between 5 May and 18 September 2020. Applicants can expect a response within four weeks. Grants will be awarded for a period between 1 and 5 months, depending on the nature of the request.

Investigations being developed and published in all formats, including print, broadcast, online media, documentary filmmaking and multi-platform storytelling will be considered.

Applications must be submitted via the Award Force platform. Applicants are strongly encouraged to read thoroughly the full eligibility and application details below and to consult our FAQ page.

The Publication Support scheme is managed by the European Journalism Centre (EJC).

Eligibility criteria

1. To be eligible under the Publication Support Scheme, applications must be submitted by teams of journalists and/or news organisations that meet the following criteria:

  • they are based in at least one EU member state OR one official EU candidate country; and
  • they are collaborating on a topic of cross-border relevance, covering at least two countries (i.e one EU member state + one candidate country OR two EU member states OR two EU candidate countries). Applications must justify the relevance of the investigation for the public interest in the eligible countries targeted by the   investigation, or for the broader European public sphere;
  • projects will be completed and originally published by respected news organisations or platforms in at least two EU member states (or at least one EU member state and one EU candidate country).

UK-based journalists and organisations will be considered as “based in an EU member state” under the Publication Support scheme (For guidelines for including journalists or news organisations from non-EU member states and candidate countries, please visit our FAQ section.)

2. Freelance journalists, staff journalists and news organisations are welcome to apply. Beyond fulfilling the geographic criteria noted above, there are no restrictions regarding the composition of investigative teams or the number of team members. Teams may consist of freelance journalists only, employed journalists only, news organisations only, or be a collaboration between freelance and staff journalists and news organisations.

3. Grant funding may be used to cover any costs necessary for the completion and publication of the investigation and production of journalistic content, including salary and human resource costs, research-related costs, translation and travel costs. The only exception applies to equipment (hardware) costs, which are not eligible.

4. Teams must submit a budget as part of their application, based on this model budget.

5. Applications must be submitted in English.

6. Projects that apply to/ receive support from IJ4EU’s Investigation Support Scheme will not be eligible for the Publication Support Scheme. If the evaluation committee establishes that a proposal submitted under the Investigation Support Scheme is more suited for the Publication Support Scheme (or vice versa), the application will be directed to the appropriate grant (with the prior consent of the applicant), without the need for them to re-apply. 

Publication requirements

7. Projects must be completed and originally published by respected news organisations or platforms in at least two EU member states (or at least one EU member state and one EU candidate country) no later than the end date of the project as stated in the individual Grant Agreement. Subsequent publication may continue beyond this date.

8. Projects may initially be published behind a paywall, but must be made available outside of the paywall after one month.

9. Given the mobility and travel restrictions in place in many countries, as well as the particularly fast-changing news environment due to COVID-19, applicants should provide brief information on how they expect to to carry out the project and how they plan to adapt to any changes.

We understand that investigative journalism is an unpredictable enterprise. Therefore, Grant Agreements will require that grantees make every reasonable effort to meet the publication requirements, and to contact the EJC prior to these requirements prospectively not being met.

Investigations will need to refer to the support from IJ4EU when they are published.

Eligible topics

10. IJ4EU is open to cross-border investigative projects on any topic. This includes, but is not limited to, corruption, illicit enrichment and financial crime, security, democracy and human rights, environment and climate change, and health – including the COVID-19 pandemic. Projects must aim to reveal new information that is of relevance to the public in at least two EU member states (or one member state and one candidate country) or to the wider European public sphere.

IJ4EU is dedicated to supporting a diverse range of topics and teams across Europe. We welcome projects focusing on underreported issues. Furthermore, teams working in eligible countries where investigative journalism is under pressure, including financial and political pressure, are especially encouraged to apply.

Payment and reporting

For teams selected for grant funding, the payment of grants will be made in two instalments:

  • 80% of the grant amount will be paid upon signing of the grant agreement by the awarded project team
  • The remaining 20% will be paid following the submission of a final report by the project team, demonstrating the fulfilment of the grant requirements.

The final report will be due within 1 month of the end date of the project as stated in the individual Grant Agreement. The report must briefly describe the action(s) carried out with IJ4EU support, as well as expenditures, dissemination efforts, publication achievements and the public impact, if available at the time of reporting. Grantees will not be required to provide detailed documentation (e.g. receipts) of their spending or accounting information as a precondition of payment of the final instalment.

Grantees will be asked to keep the relevant documents for three years.

How to apply

The IJ4EU application process aims to be simple, secure and efficient.

All applications must be submitted in English via the online Award Force platform by 23:59 CEST, Friday 18 September 2020. Award Force is a free-to-use secure platform for submission and storage. It is ISO/IEC 27001 certified and GDPR compliant, and has multi-factor authentication, encrypted data, multi-tier backups and a secure multi-server architecture in VPC.

Each applicant team should designate a lead applicant that might be either an organisation or an individual. The lead applicant nominates a representative who should create a personal user account to ensure that the application can be submitted securely and so not to jeopardise the proposed investigation or those involved. Applicants can save the application form and return to it until they have completed it and are ready to submit. Once the application is submitted, it can no longer be edited. Only applications received via the Award Force platform by the stated date and time will be considered.

The first section of the application form will require applicants to provide brief information about their project and the team working on it, including:

  • brief description of the proposed project and topic,
  • stage of the investigation,
  • team composition,
  • Budget. The budget should be based on this model budget. The budget does not need to specify in detail items that need to remain confidential during an investigation.
  • expected date of publication of the investigation.

The first section of the application will serve as an eligibility check for applicants and projects. Applications that do not meet the basic eligibility criteria for the Publication Support Scheme will not be further evaluated.

Lead applicants, who are individuals within that team, should provide a CV/summary of past journalistic work.

Media outlets with which the experts evaluating the proposals may not be familiar are strongly encouraged to provide sufficient information that can allow the jury to assess their journalistic credentials. This can include, for example, the names of up to two independent experts who can be contacted.

The next sections of the application will require applicants to provide more details about:

  • the objective(s) of the investigation, highlighting its cross-border relevance, public relevance and what new knowledge and information it will provide,
  • publication plan, describing the expected timeline for the investigation and the media outlets or platforms in which the project will be published, and the expected publication date(s),
  • the main risks associated with the completion of the project and how they plan to mitigate against these risks.

Selection process and timeline

The Publication Support Scheme will receive and review proposals on a rolling basis from 5 May 2020 until 18 September 2020.

In order to streamline the process and be able to provide effective support during both the application process and the implementation of individual projects, the following tentative dates for the start of grant funded projects are foreseen:

  • For applications submitted between 5 May and 14 June 2020: start date no later than 6 July 2020.
  • For applications submitted between 15 June and 31 July 2020: start date no later than 17 August 2020.
  • For applications submitted between 1 August and 18 September 2020: start date no later than 12 October 2020.

The EJC will make efforts to inform successful applicants of the outcome of their application within a maximum of four weeks of the submission of their proposals. During the shortlisting process, the EJC may seek further clarification from applicants about any of the elements of their application in order to facilitate. Given the expected high volume of applications, the EJC reserves the right not to provide individual feedback to unsuccessful applicants.

The shortlisting of projects will be carried out by EJC experts, including the IJ4EU project team, with input from IPI.

The decision for selection of a project will take into account, but not necessarily confine itself to, the following criteria:

  • Cross-border relevance
  • Relevance of topic to European and local public
  • Newsworthiness and added value
  • Stage of the investigation
  • Strength of the publication plan
  • Expected impact and/or reach of the project
  • The extent to which projects help the EJC successfully meet the IJ4EU objectives, mission and purpose and create long-term impact after completion of the IJ4EU project.
  • Feasibility of project within project timeline and budget
  • Applicants’ experience and journalistic credentials
  • Financial need

In addition, selection will attempt to ensure:

  • Geographical balance
  • Thematic balance
  • Balance among types of investigative types, including ensuring that freelance journalists are adequately represented
  • Attention is paid to underreported topics as well as investigative topics affecting local communities

Notification of award and timeline

Successful applicants will be notified about the outcome of their application within four weeks of the submission of their proposals. Selected applicants – acting through one lead representative – will be required to sign a contract with the European Journalism Centre in order to receive the funds.

Successful investigations will receive the awarded grants in two instalments on the grounds of a budget that is double-checked and approved by the EJC as credible and reasonable. Unless the EJC has any indications for improper use of funds, grantees will not be required to provide detailed documentation of their spending as a precondition of payment of the final instalment.

Grants will be awarded for a period between 1 and 5 months, depending on the nature of the request. All funded projects must be finalised in accordance with the end date stated in their individual grant agreement, but no later than the end date of the IJ4EU project (28 February 2021).

The leading representatives of selected projects will be expected to stay in regular contact with the EJC on the progress of investigative work and immediately communicate any major unexpected delays.

Projects will be expected to show best efforts to have their work published by the deadline stated in the individual grant agreement. The EJC reserves the right to publish references to and re-publish excerpts of the project on its website and applicants agree to make themselves available to the EJC and IPI for interviews related to their experience working on the project within 6 months after the end of IJ4EU.

Project support

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

Expert calls

Team members from selected projects will be invited to participate in three expert calls per funding round. These AMA (“Ask Me Anything”) sessions will take place will industry experts, and will cover topics such as fact-checking, verification, data reporting and online research.

Legal aid fund

IJ4EU has established a small legal aid fund to support grantees. This fund is designed to provide additional financial support in the case of unforeseen legal costs, which can include the coverage of legal advice, lawyers’ fees or other support. The legal aid fund is managed by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) as part of ECPMF’s larger legal aid programme for journalists in Europe. (Please note: any expected legal costs, such as standard pre-publication review, should be included in project budgets and cannot be covered by the legal aid fund).

Advocacy support

As a global press freedom organisation with 70 years of experience, IPI is committed to defending the rights of the IJ4EU grantees to do their work free from interference. Together with ECPMF, IPI is a member of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) network for addressing press freedom violations. Any threats to the work of IJ4EU grantees will be immediately reviewed by IPI for an appropriate response and, where appropriate, will be shared with other members of the MFRR for a coordinated advocacy or other form of response, including legal and practical support.

Editorial support

Grantees will also have access to editorial support in the form of an expert adviser. This adviser will be available to provide general advice to teams that face difficulties in the advancement of publication of their investigations.

IJ4EU and COVID-19

The importance of investigative journalism is not diminished amid the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the spread of the virus and the measures to contain it present unique challenges to cross-border investigative journalism. Here’s how the IJ4EU fund is responding.

  • First, as the IJ4EU fund is open to any topic, investigative projects related to COVID-19 are also eligible for funding, provided that they meet the application requirements.
  • Second, given the mobility and travel restrictions in place in many countries, as well as the particularly fast-changing news environment, we strongly encourage all applicants to plan and present their projects with this situation in mind. In terms of the application, this means that you should provide brief information on how you expect to be able to carry out your project in view of such possible restrictions and how you plan to adapt to any changes. It also means that you should ensure your project still has newsworthiness when published.
  • Third, projects that are specifically related to COVID-19 will be subject to an overall view of all viable grant applications. Depending on the number of COVID-19-related projects, the jury may – at its absolute discretion – in some cases propose mergers of teams.
  • Fourth, we understand the unusual problems that 2020 presents. While teams should outline risks and adaptations to them in their grant applications, it is understood that there is a need for increased flexibility, including as relates to project changes and publication deadlines. Nevertheless, all teams must undertake best efforts to publish by the deadline and to keep us up-to-date with your efforts to complete the investigation and publish.

Questions and contact

Our FAQ section provides answers to many specific questions about the grant. For further questions, applicants should contact the European Journalism Centre (ECJ) at publicationsupport@ejc.net.