General Information

What is Stars4Media?

Stars4Media is a training programme for media professionals and the first pilot project for European media organisations, aiming at facilitating cooperation between media professionals (“rising stars”) to accelerate media innovation and cross-border coverage in Europe. 

Media professionals residing in different EU countries have the chance to cooperate around bottom-up Initiatives, to test ideas and technologies, develop new business models and produce journalistic content. 

Partners of the project are the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Europe’s Media Lab (Fondation EURACTIV), the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), and the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA). The project is co-funded by the European Commission.


Who can participate?

The main target group of Stars4Media Second Edition are media professionals with a promising future (“rising stars”) of any nationality, and professionally active within the European Union. Senior mentors can be part of an Initiative, but should not constitute the majority of the team.

The media professionals will be selected from both legacy media,  start-up media organisations, and tech companies based in any EU country, ensuring a mix of different functions and profiles, such as journalists, product managers, graphic designers, developers, marketing managers, community managers, technology managers.

I have only been a media professional for a few months. Can I participate?

Only those with a minimum of 2 years of proven media experience can participate.

Is it open only to journalists or can other media professionals participate as well?

Professionals coming from different departments / professional backgrounds (e.g. journalists, data journalists, graphic designers, developers, and managers for social media, products, marketing) are eligible. In fact, cross-disciplinary approaches are privileged, especially if they include business innovation.

Is there any age limit?

There is no age limit for taking part in the project, what counts is the professional experience in the media field.


Young media professionals with more than 2 and less than 10 years of professional experience in the media sector are the main target group of the programme.

Professionals with more than 10 years of experience in the media sector can optionally join an initiative as “senior mentors”, in order to maximise its outcome, strengthen the ownership and internal company support for the Initiative’s activities. However, the majority of the participants in each Initiative should be “young media professionals”.

Can freelance journalists participate?

The participation of freelancers is welcome. Particularly, proposals involving individual freelancers partnering with a media organisation for implementing a joint Initiative are encouraged.

Can researchers/media policy experts participate?

Researchers and media policy experts can take part in the project on their own/company costs. If they submit and implement their idea on behalf of a media organisation, then they would also be eligible for co-funding.

Is there a minimum language level required to participate?

Participants should have a good command of spoken and written English.

Which language can the applications be submitted in?

Applications should be submitted in English.

What is an “Initiative”?

We consider an “Initiative” a proposal with clear objectives, proposed by a small cross-border and cross-disciplinary team of media professionals, aiming at fostering innovation in the media sector (a new service, content, tool, approach, etc). 

Each initiative shall be composed of media professionals from 2 or more different media organisations and/or freelancers based in different EU countries.

How many people from the same media organisation can take part in a team?

Stars4Media encourages cross-disciplinary teams to work together on a joint and innovative initiative. The applicants are required to elaborate on the cooperation that they envisage with colleagues from other media outlets and the respective roles in the initiative. 

The size of a team should be determined by the roles and responsibilities of each team member. Ideally, 3 individuals per media organisation should be involved in an initiative. Exceptionally, 4 individuals per media organisation could be accepted.


Can a team be composed of only one person?

Yes, a team can be composed of one individual per media organisation. In the ideal case, a team would include several professionals with complementary backgrounds, working together on an initiative. 

There should be one “lead” professional, who will act as a contact point with the other media organisations, and with the Stars4Media project team. This lead media professional will also coordinate internally with the other participants, ensure the timely reporting on progress, and communicate to the media organisation’s management. This will ensure an efficient, collaborative, transparent, and decentralised process.

Administrative / Application

What is the timeline of the selection process?

  • Propose your initiative

To participate you have two options:

  1. If you choose to submit directly a well-developed Proposal for Initiative, there are two deadlines: May 1st 2021 or July 1st 2021. Applicants who will submit by 1st of May will have the opportunity to pitch their idea at the Stars4Media Lab event on June 1st and receive further coaching. You can submit your initiative by downloading the form, filling it in, and uploading it here.
  2. You also have the option to send us first a draft Proposal for Initiative at by pre-filling the application form. In this case, a team of media experts and practitioners can provide coaching and guide you to design your initiative. To benefit from the support and guidance of a Stars4Media media expert during the application phase, you will need to submit your draft idea before 15/04/2021. The expert assigned to you will help you develop an application in line with the Stars4Media objectives, and will challenge your ideas and help you find partners, in case you apply as an unpaired applicant.
  • Coaching and Selection: Applicants will benefit from coaching by media experts from February to June. An independent jury of media experts will assess the applications by May 15th. They will receive constructive feedback during the Stars4Media Lab virtual training event in early June: the applicants will be invited to pitch their initiatives and attend coaching sessions. They may submit their reworked proposals by the July 1st deadline. Around  30 initiatives will be eventually selected and participants will be able to start their collaboration as soon as September 2021. 
  •  Implement your collaborative initiative:
    Physical mobility and virtual cooperation: starting in September 2021, for a period of a maximum of 16 weeks per initiative, the selected media professionals will carry out their initiative.
    Monitoring and evaluation: the development of the initiative will be monitored, evaluated, guided and facilitated by the Stars4Media team. The reporting and administrative process will be light. For details, please check the Stars4Media Second Edition Specific Rules, annexed to this Call.


Who will evaluate the Proposals for initiative?

The Proposals for initiative will be evaluated by an independent jury, representing publishers, journalists, and tech circles. The experts will be grouped around the main thematic waves “Journalis, Trust and Participation”; “Media technology and Marketing” and “Other innovations”. 

What if I have an initiative that fits under multiple Waves?

We welcome initiatives that are cutting cross-waves, should this be well-argued and support the Innovative aspect of your idea.

When filling in the Proposal for initiative form, please indicate the most appropriate Wave(s) that your idea reflects, and motivate your choice by answering what are the specific needs/challenges that you address.


What criteria will be used to evaluate applications?

Each member of the jury will evaluate the submitted initiatives of the following dimensions: needs, approach, benefits, cooperation, sustainability and  innovation.

Where will the results of the selection be published? Will I receive a notification?

Participants will be informed about the results of every step of the selection process via email.

What happens if I can't find a media partner? Will my application be considered?

We encourage participants to look for a media partner themselves and agree on a joint initiative before submitting their application. However, applications from unpaired candidates will also be accepted.  

If you would like us to help in finding a media partner, please choose the respective option in the Application formCall for initiatives.

To what do the media companies commit during the project?

Physical Mobility

Who will organise the exchange/collaboration?

Every professional has to organise its own virtual or physical collaboration, in agreement with the respective media partner, with respect to the country-specific Covid-19 regulations and in line with the Stars4Media Second Edition General Conditions for Participation.


Will I have a referee of the project to contact during the exchange?

Each participating media outlet will have to appoint a leader to be the contact point with the other media organisations, and with the Stars4Media project team. This leader will also coordinate internally with the other participating media professionals, ensure the reporting on progress, and communicate to the media outlets’ senior management (‘senior mentors’).

Who decides the length of an Initiative?

Work on an Initiative should last for a minimum of 40 work-days per individual, spread over 16 weeks.

The exact length of an Initiative should be determined by the applicant (in agreement with the media partner).

All initiatives should start on 15th of Septmeber 2021 and end no later than 15th of January 2022.


Financial aspects

Who funds Stars4Media?

The project is 90% co-funded by the European Commission and 10% by the beneficiaries/participants. 

Will I receive any money? When and from whom?

Every professional involved in a Stars4Media initiative will benefit from a lump-sum Award of 6.000€, respecting the 90% EU contribution and 10% co-funding. As a consequence of this co-financing, out of the total 6,000 euros, a lump-sum Award of 5,400 euros (which corresponds to the 90% co-funding) will be allocated to each participant.

The lump-sum Award can cover the following types of costs:

  1. all kinds of remote work related to the implementation of the Initiatives;
  2. costs including, but not limited to, software, licenses, equipment, and digital tools;
  3. costs of training (remote and non) necessary for the good implementation of the Initiative (e.g. language skills; marketing; user experience design, etc);
  4. international travel, accommodation and subsistence costs (when possible).

The lump-sum will be transferred by the Project Coordinator VUB in 2 instalments: 3,000 EUR at the beginning of each initiative. The second instalment of 2,400 EUR will only be transferred after receipt of all evidence of expenditures and of dutiful implementation of the initiative.
For more details, please check the Stars4Media Second Editon Specific Rules

Other questions

Will it be possible to travel to another EU country for the implementation of the initiative?

The selected applicants are encouraged to engage in physical mobility and cooperation, if travel is unrestricted by EU and country specific rules during the Initiative’s implementation period.

I am a non-EU citizen. Can I participate?

You can participate in the programme if you live and work in the European Union, regardless of your citizenship.

Can media companies from outside of the EU take part in the programme?

Only EU-based companies can benefit from co-funding for taking part in the programme. Non-EU companies will have to provide full coverage of expenses for the professionals that are to take part in the exchange on their behalf.

Is there an address for general enquiries?

For general enquiries, please contact the project management team at, mentioning in the Subject line: “Stars4Media questions”.