The Dutch Journalism Fund
The Stimuleringsfonds voor de Journalistiek, or Dutch Journalism Fund, supports the quality, diversity and independence of journalism in The Netherlands by promoting innovation. To achieve this goal, the fund provides grants to innovative journalism projects, conducts research and stimulates knowledge sharing across the industry.
The main activities of the fund are the Persinnovatie subsidy program, research on the state of regional and local journalism, The Challenge – a start-up competition for students – and the scenario study.
Persinnovatie subsidy program – Stimulating innovation
With the Persinnovatie subsidy program, the Dutch Journalism Fund helps journalists and media organisations to adapt to the changing environment. Readership and advertising income declines and media organisations struggle to take advantage of new, digital opportunities. The Persinnovatie subsidy program is designed to boost innovation and experimentation in journalism to help overcome these issues.
The program offers a subsidy of fifty percent of project costs, with a maximum of a hundred thousand euro, to organisations and individuals who submit a proposal for an innovative project. Within the program, the fund subsidized for example digital news platforms, tools for journalists, experimentation with new business models, data journalism and citizen journalism.
550 applications, 93 projects, €10,3 million in subsidies
Since the start in 2010, the program received over 550 applications from legacy organisations as well as start-ups, both from inside and outside the media sector. Applications are reviewed on their viability, innovativeness and whether they might strengthen Dutch journalism. As of spring 2015, 93 applications have been granted, comprising a total of 10,3 million euro in subsidies.
An evaluation of the program in summer 2014 showed that approximately half of the projects is continued by the applicant after the subsidy is spent.
Research – Providing knowledge on the state of journalism
The Journalism Fund performs several studies on the state of journalism in The Netherlands, in order to monitor the quality of national and regional journalism and uncover possible deficiencies. In the last years, the fund investigated the state of local news.
How many news stories can inhabitants of Dutch municipalities choose from, on a weekly basis? Which topics does the local news cover? Are up and coming ‘hyperlocals’ – new online initiatives driven by entrepreneurs – a fitting replacement for legacy media’s retreat from local and regional journalism? Compared to their national counterparts, Dutch regional dailies took an even harder blow from the general decline in circulation and loss of advertisement revenue. In addition, both regional and local public broadcasters are faced with ever continuing budget cuts. Taking an interest in these developments, the Netherlands Journalism Fund has conducted three studies into the quantity and the quality of the local news supply, as well as the demand for local news.
The Challenge – Helping journalism students build a start-up
As of 2011, the fund organises The Challenge, a start-up competition for journalism students and recently graduated journalists. The students apply in a team with an innovative idea for a journalism start-up and enter an elimination race which consists of weekly masterclasses. The teams learn the basics of business modelling, the lean start-up methods, how to pitch for an investor and how to perform customer research. Every week the team which made the least amount of progress is knocked out. At the end of the race, three teams are awarded with a grant of 20.000 euro and office space and professional business coaching for a year.
Journalism2025.com – Four scenarios on the future of journalism
On request of the Dutch parliament, the Journalism Fund performed a scenario study on the future of journalism. Five ‘trend meetings’ were held with 150 editors, journalists, managers, scientists, experts and philosophers, from inside and outside the media industry to identify possible trends that will influence the journalistic landscape in the coming years. Based on this, four scenarios were developed that each describe a possible future of journalism in 2025. The result was presented in a report and an interactive website with four long reads on the different scenarios and video-interviews with several industry players. The website also offers a toolkit, which freelancers, media organisations and educators can use to develop a strategy for their organisation.
Read the entire report and the longreads, in both Dutch and English, on www.journalism2025.com.
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