European Cities Journalism Accelerator: how Tagesspiegel, Arena for Journalism in Europe and Denik Referendum impulsed the vibing Urban Journalism Network supported by the Stars4Media NEWS programme

How did the European Cities Journalism Accelerator project bring together a network of 13 media outlets around Europe that thrived under the Stars4Media NEWS programme? What are the strengths of this cross border collaboration and which best practices can other media learn from their business and news transformation journey?


Tagesspiegel (DE), the Berlin daily media publisher, Arena For Journalism in Europe (NL), the foundation supporting cross-border collaborative and investigative journalism in Europe, and Denik Referendum (CZ), independent online daily media, already knew each other long before they applied to the Stars4Media NEWS programme. From the Cities for Rent collaboration project coordinated by Arena For Journalism in Europe, until winning the 2022 European Press Innovation Award, they transformed the project team into the Urban Journalism Network, a 13 media outlets network from all around Europe. They have been working together on cross border initiatives to investigate urban issues in European capital cities.


The diversity of the team and the skills each of the partners brought has been the major strength for the team. From investigative journalists and data specialists to local reporters, graphic designers, and representatives from both print and independent media, the network brought a wealth of expertise to the table. As Gaby Khazalová, Investigative Reporter at Denik Referendum, highlighted: “This diversity fostered a dynamic learning environment, especially between the data visualisation team and the investigative journalists”.


Obviously, managing such a multifaceted network presented its own challenges. Regular meetings, both virtual and in-person (including gatherings in Budapest and Berlin), greatly held the project together. These sessions facilitated smooth development and helped develop a spirit of partnership among the participating media outlets.


The Stars4Media NEWS programme provided meaningful guidance through both of their coaches who were the perfect addition to support their efforts. Indeed, Maike Olij, media consultant and concept developer, had the perfect knowledge on network and project management when Sander Stallinga, their other Transformative Coach of the Stars4Media NEWS programme, had the media publisher expertise they needed. They helped the team in settling their work plan and stabilising the network.


Their participation in the Stars4Media programme definitely impulsed the construction and then the strength of the network by developing its building capacity through the inclusion of new partners. They will keep working together in different projects notably during the coming Dataharvest, where they will be presenting their latest project Ground Control, aiming to investigate land ownership in European cities.


During the Stars4Media Day on March 15th in Brussels, Hendrick Lehmann, Head of Tagesspiegel Innovation Lab, presented the latest results of the projects and what this collaboration brought for all the partners. He added that the presentation on “Collaboration and AI in newsrooms” by Professor Charlie Beckett, founding Director of POLIS, was truly interesting as the European Cities Journalism Accelerator project which is currently experimenting AI tools to generate better data visualisations.


From the Stars4Media consortium, we are proud to be part of the achievements of our boosters and their business and news transformation. We are looking forward to knowing more about the developments of their upcoming projects and upcoming results of their collaboration.


Join our Stars4Media community to get to know more about our initiatives and future projects, and engage with media innovators all around Europe!


This article is part of a series of articles aiming to promote the Stars4Media Third Edition Boosters. Discover the full list of beneficiaries and their area of media innovations. Read the recap of our latest event Stars4Media Day ‘Ready for AI and enlargement’ and discover our latest Stars4Media projects.