Perspectives from Africa,
engagement from Finland

Understanding Africa

Representing Africans


Fireworks at Kansalaistori Square, Helsinki, to celebrate a century of Finnish independence (Photo: Finland 100)

Fireworks in Helsinki, to celebrate a century of Finnish independence (Photo: Finland 100)

How the EJC funds fresh approaches to development reporting

A non-profit international foundation, the European Journalism Centre (EJC) seeks to improve, strengthen, and support journalism and the news media. It works in two ways. First, it safeguards, enhances, and future-proofs quality journalism in Europe. Second, it supports initiatives towards press freedom in emerging and developing nations and regions - in particular, by creating the framework conditions for independent and self-determined journalism. To these ends, the EJC provides thematic training, professional capacity development, and a wide range of support activities for journalists.

The EJC's new website, at, hosts information about its Innovation in Development Reporting (IDR) Grant Programme, which is now in its second year. The IDR grant programme, which was launched in January 2013 by the EJC with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, aims to reward quality journalism and advance a new and distinctive agenda for development coverage through awarding funding to a selection of reporting projects of great impact and high visibility.

The revamped website gives a comprehensive overview of the 28 projects funded under the grant programme. The public can access a showcase of 2013's outstanding projects - which were awarded a combined total of 550,000 Euros in funding, and which were designed to innovate global development narratives and bring new forms of journalistic storytelling based on the Millennium Development Goals.

The EJC is determined to support efforts aimed at increasing transparency regarding development spending, and the work and results of funded projects. So, the new website provides information regarding each funded project - including, as EJC Director Wilfried Rütten confirmed recently, "the grant recipients’ names, the funded amounts, the deadlines, the aims and objectives of their stories, and the results of the projects”.

The EJC is running two more rounds of applications in 2014, with the first round to be submitted by the deadline of 26th February. Journalists and media organisations interested in breaking away from development journalism stereotypes can pitch their stories via an online application form.

Wilfried Rütten, Director of the European Journalism Centre (EJC)Innovating development reporting

Last year's winning teams are committed to: employing multi-platform approaches and engagement in cross-country media collaboration; making use of interactive applications; and investigative, data-driven and photo journalism. Amongst a broad range of issues, grant winners focused on Africa have been investigating:

  • Digital technologies and biodiversity in Ethiopia and Senegal.
  • Disruption to Ghana's food markets, caused by the importation of Italian tomatoes.
  • How mobile money is changing the ways individuals spend, save, trade and exchange - and what that means in terms of poverty reduction in Burkina Faso and Somaliland.
  • Large scale land-grabbing by multinationals in rural West Africa.
  • The impact of microcredits on peacebuilding in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • Treatment of tropical diseases in Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and Madagascar.

Mr Rütten said, “With the very important on-going public dialogue around the Millennium Development Goals unfolding ahead of the 2015 target, the winning projects are very well-timed to put global development topics on the agenda of a wide public debate.”

A multi-channel, multi-plattform commitment

The winning projects will be released in the form of cross-platform storytelling that includes: TV and web documentaries; animated and interactive maps; multimedia and graphic features; mobile applications; and animated videos.

Various social media tools will also be used extensively.