• IJ4EU relaunches in 2021 with €1.1 million for cross-border projects in EU
  • Includes new support scheme for freelancers
  • First call launches in June
  • Stay informed via our newsletter and website

The Investigative Journalism for Europe (IJ4EU) fund will disburse €1.1 million in grants to cross-border projects in EU member states in 2021 and launch an ambitious new support scheme for freelancers, the organisations that run the fund said on Wednesday.

Back for a third year, IJ4EU has secured core financing from the European Commission to continue its work strengthening the watchdog role of investigative reporting on transnational subjects in the public interest.

Led by the International Press Institute (IPI), IJ4EU has established itself as a trusted intermediary for channelling public and philanthropic money into quality investigative journalism without compromising editorial independence.

The same consortium that ran IJ4EU in 2020 will manage the latest edition of the programme. Along with IPI, the implementing organisations are the European Journalism Centre (EJC) and the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF).

“We’re delighted that IJ4EU is back with a full war chest of funds to help journalists collaborate across borders and launch complex investigations,” Timothy Large, IJ4EU programme coordinator for IPI, said.

“The upheaval of the past year has made watchdog journalism more critical than ever. It’s also amplified pressures on journalists, especially when it comes to doing the kind of resource-intensive investigations needed to do justice to transnational subjects.”

Following a successful pilot scheme in 2018, IJ4EU last year allocated €1.07 million in grants to 49 cross-border teams of journalists based all across Europe.

Subjects covered a spectrum of pressing public-interest topics, including public health, the environment, organised crime, corruption, disinformation, human rights abuses and surveillance. 

In 2021, the IJ4EU fund will make €1.1 million available through two grant schemes for journalistic teams based in at least two EU member states (or at least one EU country and Britain). Money can be used for almost any relevant journalistic purpose, including paying salaries.

The backbone of the programme is the Investigation Support Scheme, which offers grants of between €5,000 and €50,000 for new cross-border investigative projects.

Run by IPI, the Investigation Support Scheme aims to disburse €835,000 in 2021. IJ4EU expects to announce the first call for applications in June, with a second call scheduled for the autumn.

The scheme is aimed at helping cross-border investigations of all sizes — from the very local to the pan-European — and is open to teams that include at least one news outlet or investigative journalism organisation, or a staff member of one of these.

Focus on freelancers

In addition, a new Freelancer Support Scheme will provide teams of journalists working entirely outside of newsroom structures with grants of up to €20,000 plus an extra cushion of tailored assistance including training, mentoring and networking opportunities.

Managed by the EJC, the Freelancer Support Scheme will have a pot of €265,000 for grants. There will be a single call for applications in 2021, expected in June.

“Freelance journalists are often a crucial, but overlooked, part of the investigative journalism ecosystem,” EJC Director Adam Thomas said. “This programme will directly fund vital reporting produced by freelancers. Moreover, we will support innovation, new skills and professional development by connecting them to resources, training and a global community of journalists.”

The latest edition of IJ4EU will also feature events familiar from the last round of the programme, including an award celebrating excellence in cross-border investigative journalism in Europe and a conference designed to foster collaboration and innovation.

Managed by ECPMF, both the IJ4EU Impact Award and the #UNCOVERED conference will take place in 2022.

ECPMF Managing Director Lutz Kinkel said: “Through the IJ4EU Impact Award, ECPMF established the first prize for European cross-border investigative journalism. It honours outstanding investigations of reporters in the field. We are proud to use the prize to amplify the prize-winners’ topics and to strengthen a common European public sphere.

“The #UNCOVERED conference is the perfect frame for the award ceremony, showcasing the IJ4EU grantees and reflecting on the conditions of investigative journalism in Europe. This is where journalism meets media, and where media meets politics.”

Along with funding and networking opportunities, all IJ4EU grantees will benefit from practical, editorial and legal assistance, allowing them to work independently in a supportive environment.

In the event of any threats or intimidation, journalists will have full access to the Media Freedom Rapid Response mechanism managed by ECPMF as well as advocacy support from IPI, the world’s oldest press freedom organisation.

To be eligible for the IJ4EU programme, teams must consist of journalists and/or news organisations based in at least two EU member states.

Despite Brexit, British journalists are still eligible to take part on the same terms as their counterparts in EU countries since the latest round of IJ4EU funding comes from the bloc’s last multi-year budget, to which Britain was a contributor.  

IJ4EU also welcomes applications from journalists based in official EU candidate countries, as long as they team up with colleagues in at least two EU member states.

Independence sacred

Proposed investigative topics must be of public interest and cross-border relevance. 

Teams working in all types of media — including print, broadcast, online media, documentary filmmaking and multi-platform storytelling — will be considered. Proposals will need to be submitted in English, and provide a project description, publication plan and budget.

Independence is a central pillar of the IJ4EU funding model. All projects funded under the Investigative Support Scheme and Freelancer Support Scheme as well as IJ4EU Impact Award winners are selected by independent expert juries.

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.

In 2020, IJ4EU received core funding from the European Commission with co-financing from Open Society Foundations, Fritt Ord, Luminate and the City of Leipzig.

In 2021, the programme has again received funding from the European Commission as a Preparatory Action. Other donors will be announced as further partnerships are confirmed. 

More details of the grant schemes on offer and the timing of calls for applications will follow shortly. Interested journalists are encouraged to visit the IJ4EU site and sign up to our newsletter.

Press contacts:

IPI: Timothy Large, IJ4EU programme coordinator, tlarge[at]ipi.media, +43 1 512 901 122

EJC: Zlatina Siderova, project manager, siderova[at]ejc.net, +31 43 325 40 30

ECPMF: Andreas Lamm, deputy managing director, lamm[at]ecpmf.eu, +49 341 200 403 22