October 18, 2016
This blog post belongs to the #Media4EU Tour d’Europe series. Read the project outline, timetable and deliverables here, and the list of its steering committee here.
Fondation EurActiv and the Institut d’Études Européennes (ULB) are initiating the ‘Media4EU Tour d’Europe’ project. This will gather perspectives from top quality media in Europe and propose initiatives and strategies to implement stronger sustainable cooperation across the continent. A final report will be drafted in December 2016 on the basis of contributions drawn from a series of interviews with Editors, Publishers and media experts, as well as academic-backed desk research.
Journalism and media companies face big challenges across the world today, both financial and technological. In Europe, more particularly, the growing dependency of readers on US and UK news sites is an additional source of concern.
The linguistic diversity in Europe has contributed to fragmentation in the European media industry, and the shortage of policies encouraging and supporting innovation has exposed the sector to fierce competition, and low financial returns. More specifically, weak online ad revenues due to the rapid switch to mobile and the concentration of advertisements on giant tech platforms such as Google and Facebook, threaten the viability of the industry.
Journalism without economic sustainability cannot be free.
Our main hypothesis is that sustainable cooperation between media across borders and languages in Europe is the most practical solution to this crisis. Several attempts have been made to set-up cross-border exchanges over recent years. Networks such as the “Europa” Club, or the Leading European Newspaper Alliance (LENA), have gathered heavyweights among national media willing to exchange content, but both have met with only limited success.
Early results of the research highlight that innovative technologies, new journalism formats and business models, combined with investments into the ‘human factor’, present the best opportunities for transnational cooperation.
New language technologies are making translation faster, cheaper and more accurate, which is starting to allow publishers to take advantage of a more diverse mix of content to offer, broader reach and more scalable reporting capabilities. Best estimates are that more progress is now likely within the next five years than has been achieved in the past twenty years. Once this is done, readers will enjoy broader and deeper coverage.
Innovative journalism formats, including data and solution journalism, but also increasing amounts of video, offer better prospects to package cross-border comparisons and create an attractive formula for EU policy content.
Media actors are re-inventing their business models both horizontally and vertically to monetize online activities, but to date seem to rely on tentative pursuits of different tactics rather than on partnering with European partners to build a critical mass to compete with the multinational tech giants.
Finally, the so-called ‘human factor’ is emerging as one of the elements having a crucial impact on the effectiveness of the implementation of cooperation models. In fact, even if content from different communities is made available for exchange in the reader’s native language, without the proper incentives it seems unlikely that users will make the effort to reach for it.
During the first semester of 2017, findings from the project will be presented at several conferences, such as the “Future Media Lab Annual Conference” (Brussels, January), the “Digital Innovation Summit” (Berlin, March), the “International Journalism Festival” (Perugia, April), the “Global Editors Network Summit” (Vienna, June), plus likely one of the WAN-IFRA events, etc. ULB / IEE will also organize a conference, around March 2017.
To know more, visit the #Media4EU topic page on EurActiv and stay tuned for the upcoming interviews on EurActiv.com and EuRoman.BlogActiv.com. You can also engage with the project on Twitter using the #Media4EU or tweeting @ and @.