Press release: Stars4Media, a success despite Covid

PRESS RELEASE – Thursday October 15th, 2020 

During the Media4Europe conference, held on 14 October 2020 at Europe’s Media Lab (Fondation EURACTIV) in Brussels, the Stars4Media results were unveiled. The project, run by a consortium of media professionals and experts, supports innovation in the media sector, through training and cross-border cooperation. For this first Stars4Media edition, in Spring, the jury members selected 21 Initiatives out of 41 applications, involving 105 media professionals from 42 media outlets in 17 countries.

Based on results achieved, the jury now assigned five Prizes focusing on Trust, Cross-border cooperation, Data, Diversity, and Reacting to the Coronavirus, while Stars4Media certificates were awarded to all 105 participants. This project is co-funded by the European Commission, based on a ‘rising stars’ budget earmarked by the European Parliament. During the conference, media stakeholders and MEPs considered the continuation of the underlying ‘rising stars’ programme, and agreed that Creative Europe should be increased, including more support to media transformation.

The five Stars4Media outstanding initiatives are:

  • Trust Prize: “Wounds of Europe”, developed by Linkiesta (IT) and Bulle Media (BE) for their Podcast series Oltre l’Europa focusing on six national conflicts, based on data journalism and historical research.  
  • Cross-border cooperation Prize: “On the run from the past”, by Centro di Giornalismo Permanente (IT), StreetPress (FR), El Salto (ES), which is a cross border investigation collecting stories of citizens who disappeared during the time of southern American dictatorships and found refuge in Europe. More: article on El Salto, in Spanish; article on Street Press, in French; article on La Repubblica, in Italian.
  • Data Prize: “Visual journalism without constraints”, by Frameright (FI) and EFE (ES), is enabling content creators to know what they publish and how the content is being shown to the public. Learn more here: What we learned during Stars4Media 2020.
  • Diversity Prize: “Black City Stories”, developed by 3 freelancers (IT, DE, PT), is a solution-oriented media platform dedicated to Black People living in Europe, investigating in-depth Black Lived Experiences. More here:
  • Reacting to the Coronavirus Prize: “The summer of 2020”, led by 5 freelancers (BE, NL, DE) and Are We Europe, is a cross-border collaboration of journalists reporting on the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic in the European Union during the summer of 2020. Discover it here.

Prof. Luciano Morganti, from VUB, coordinating the Stars4Media consortium, said: “We managed to implement this first pilot surprisingly well, despite both the media crisis and the virus. This is to be credited to the flexibility of all partners and chiefly to the resilience and creativity of the 105 participants. Congratulations!”

Christophe Leclercq, chairing Europe’s MediaLab (Fondation EURACTIV) explained this initiative is by the media and for the media: “45 media stakeholders encouraged 15 MEPs to propose the ‘rising stars’ pilot to the Parliament. A second year was voted already. Separately, here is an idea proposed by 42 MEPs: bundling news-related projects into a ‘NEWS bundle’, inspired by the audiovisual MEDIA programme. This would include Parliament-triggered pilots, plus the announced 61 millions € funding for independent journalism, plus small parts of Horizon Europe, and of InvestEU once it really starts. We look forward to the Commission’s Media Action Plan”.

Mogens Bjerregård, chairing the European Federation of Journalists, said: “The profound crisis in media, accelerated by Covid-19, should be used by journalists and media professionals to better listen to diverse audiences, to test new (technical) tools and invest in new forms of storytelling. Media pluralism, independent and innovative journalism are the best antidote to disinformation, but need the support of public and private stakeholders and of course media literate users.”

Fernando de Yarza López-Madraz, President of the large publishers’ organisation WAN-IFRA declared: “There is an urgent need to support European media organisations by strengthening their capacity and enhancing cooperation across borders. The Stars4Media programme helps focus on young professionals who will lead the next generation of media across the continent. For the moment, EU funding for the media is not visible for medium-sized media companies.”

MEP Dace Melbarde (ECR, LV): “Quality journalism and trustworthy media play a key role in ‘the whole of society approach’ to effectively fight disinformation. We have an obligation to significantly scale up the support for the media sector.”

MEP Margarida Marques (S&D, PT): “Creative Europe is one of the 15 flagship EU programmes which are a priority for the European Parliament. In the current negotiations of MFF the EP is fighting for a top-up of the flagship programmes. The Council proposal  is 1,6 billion, the European Parliament proposal  is 2,8 billions and 58%  (at least) of this amount should be allocated to the Media Sub-programme.”

MEP Ramona Strugariu (RO, Renew & co-chair of the EP media working group): “Platforms need to show responsibility because algorithms can be used to weaken democracy. Pilot projects like Stars4Media deserve to become part of a permanent dedicated fund for media.”

MEP Damian Boeselager (DE, Greens (Volt)): “Rule of law and transparency is always dependent on news. It is not the EU parliament trying to block the budget, but the EU parliament trying to improve Creative Europe.”

Watch the event video here and below.


The European Commission highlighted this project on their Daily News:

Liberté et pluralisme des médias : l’UE finance des projets de soutien à la coopération transfrontalière dans le domaine des médias”

La vice-présidente chargée des valeurs et de la transparence, Věra Jourová, a déclaré : « Ces différentes initiatives permettent à des journalistes des quatre coins de l’Europe d’unir leur talent pour encore mieux nous informer. La Commission est déterminée à accroître son soutien à ce type de projets et à présenter de nouvelles actions, notamment pour améliorer la protection des journalistes, dans le cadre du plan d’action européen pour la démocratie que nous adopterons d’ici la fin de l’année. »

Le commissaire chargé du marché intérieur, Thierry Breton, a ajouté : « Nous défendons sans relâche les médias indépendants et soutenons les initiatives visant à promouvoir la liberté et le pluralisme des médias en Europe. L’effort de la Commission pour aider les médias d’information à se rétablir sera complété par le plan d’action pour les médias et l’audiovisuel qui contribuera à stimuler leur transformation numérique pour le futur. »