Journalism is in a period of upheaval. The challenges and opportunities of digitization are causing massive changes in the market and demand new solutions. Innovative and public interest-oriented formats as well as support offers for good journalism and freedom of information and opinion are answers to what some call the "media crisis". These offerings ensure the diversity and quality of the information media, which are a basic prerequisite for an open society and a vibrant democracy.
Through all its funding activities, the Schöpflin Foundation is committed to raising critical awareness among children, teenagers and young adults, as well as to a strong democracy and its development. Both require an informed society - information media play a central role in this.
Today, classic journalism of the type published by the media giants is facing major financial and structural challenges. Public broadcasting is seeking its new role in a society that is becoming increasingly digital. In the process, the formats and channels themselves are having an ever greater influence on content, and the business models are changing. And they require an increasingly comprehensive competence of users in dealing with and exchanging information.
We consider non-profit journalism and initiatives that advocate more innovation, better framework conditions and a public interest-oriented development of the "classic" and new information media to be necessary complements to the existing offerings, such as public broadcasting or private publishing journalism.
In conjunction with these journalistic projects and initiatives, we also support entrepreneurial activities, which are urgently needed for the future of the media landscape in Germany and for public discourse as a whole.
This includes the PUBLIX project in Berlin. With it, we want to create a place for media competence, digital sovereignty, debate culture, and non-profit journalism.
Team Amal Hamburg | Photo: Jann Wilken
Amal is a group of journalists with a refugee background who live in Berlin, Hamburg and Frankfurt/Main and work together to produce local news in Arabic, Ukrainian and Dari/Farsi. They have been online in Berlin since March 2017, in Hamburg since April 2019, and in Frankfurt/Main since the beginning of 2023. Amal publishes news, reports, videos and podcasts and informs those who have no access to German media. In this way, they help displaced people feel at home in Germany more quickly.
We are convinced that people who are aware of what is happening in their environment are more likely to join in, have their say and help shape events. But many newly arrived refugees get their news from media from their home countries or from international media outlets. These offer little information about political and social life in Germany. And for its part German media rarely targets its news at newly arrived refugees and displaced people. This means that often all that is left is social media offerings – but in many cases these are not true journalistic contributions; furthermore, they frequently reinforce prejudice and spread rumors. This is where Amal fills a gap, as evidenced by the increasing demand for its output. Amal is all about ensuring that information reaches specific target groups, which is why authorities and institutions are now looking to cooperate with the Amal project.
By working together with Amal, we want to achieve integration on two fronts. Firstly, Amal offers journalists who have had to leave their homeland - often due to oppression and persecution - an opportunity to continue practising their profession. 14 journalists in exile have been employed by Amal and, consequently, found a place in society. And secondly, these journalists are themselves now making an important contribution to bringing integration to the wider communities of refugees. Given that they now regularly write for German newspapers, they are also broadening the perspective of the majority society helping it to understand the perspective of the new arrivals – and this, in turn, is promoting mutual understanding and acceptance. Amal is now moving to the next phase: the plan is for the project to become an innovative social enterprise that increasingly generates its own budget.News
Rudolf Augstein Stiftung
CORRECTIV is the first non-profit investigative newsroom in the German-speaking world. CORRECTIV carries out extensive investigative research into stories that most other media ignore. CORRECTIV aims to give every citizen the information he or she needs in order to be able to understand the world. A key feature of what we do is to make our articles and contributions available to other media outlets, who can then publish them free of charge. It’s for this reason that CORRECTIV is also launching a journalism training programme so that as many people as possible can have access to the information.
A free press is a prerequisite for an open society and democracy. With the large publishing houses coming under increasing financial pressure, and state broadcasters tending to go ever more main-stream, the non-profit journalism model has an important role to play. This is where CORRECTIV comes in. It aims to give every publisher and every broadcaster in Germany access to its investigative and informative journalism so that the media can properly perform its watchdog role.
Together with CORRECTIV we want to work on the key questions currently facing our society. These include: What sort of future will our children have? How will we live together in the future? Who actually holds the reins of power in our democracy?
Fondation Nicolas Puech
EUobserver is a not-for-profit, independent online newspaper, established in Brussels in 2000. Independent European journalism is essential in making European democracy actually function. Today, there is a gap between the decision-makers in Brussels and the people they represent. EUobserver's goal is to fill this gap.
EUobserver plays a key role in monitoring and contextualizing Europe's political establishment and thus holds a critical function at a time of dwindling trust in EU decision-making, questioning of European solidarity in the face of the crisis, and the rise of polarization and authoritarianism.
The object of funding is to secure financial stability and grow EUobserver readership while keeping the newspaper's journalistic quality. Together, we aim in particular to strengthen reporting on public money invested in the European Union into greening of the economy.
France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Norway, Poland, Portugal
Investigate Europe brings together nine investigative journalists from eight countries who, together, are researching issues which are of major significance socially and politically across Europe. The results of this research will be jointly published and will be further disseminated across Europe by other media partners. Investigate Europe’s media partners include Tagesspiegel, Publico, Aftenbladet, Newsweek Polska, Il Corriere della Sera and Falter.
The issues that affect our society both nationally and internationally are becoming ever more complex. At the same time, it is becoming more and more difficult for people to have an overview and to obtain relevant information. In order to ensure that we are all able to play a part in the ongoing democratic shaping of our society we, as a society, need to be able to make sound judgements. Investigate Europe is working to make this possible.
Together we want to ensure that the research carried out by Investigate Europe can be accessed by a much larger target audience across the whole of Europe. As well as expanding the network of partner media organisations in individual countries, it is also vital that we further improve Investigate Europe’s level of professionalisation and develop its internal structures.
[Translate to English:] Bild: Relevanzreporter
Die gemeinnützige Relevanzreporter UG ist ein lokaljournalistisches Wochenmagazin in Nürnberg. Das Angebot ist rein digital, bezieht die Nutzer*innen aktiv mit ein und verbreitet sich über eine Website, Social Media, einen kostenlosen Newsletter sowie Podcast-Formate. Die Redaktion setzt zudem auf verschiedene Veranstaltungsformate im lokalen Raum, bei denen Menschen der Region miteinander in einen konstruktiven Austausch gebracht werden. Das Team besteht aus 20 Medienschaffenden – allesamt professionell ausgebildet, mit vier bis 40 Jahren Berufserfahrung. Relevanzreporter ist GROW-Fellow aus dem Jahr 2020.
Die Relevanzreporter haben den konstruktiven Journalismus in dieser Ausführlichkeit in den deutschen Lokaljournalismus geholt und machen seither zukunfts-, lösungs- und gemeinwohlorientierten Journalismus zu Themen, die morgen noch relevant sind, gemeinsam MIT den Bürger*innen der Region. Nicht nur die Recherchen, auch das gesamte Angebot (Design, Name bis hin zum Bezahlmodell) ist mit den Nutzer*innen entstanden. Mit diesem community-basierten Ansatz im Lokalen sind sie das erste und bis dato einzige Lokalmedienangebot in ganz Deutschland, ebenso mit der Verankerung der sozialen Wirkung im Businessplan.
Studien zeigen, dass sich die demokratische Relevanz von Journalismus insbesondere im regionalen und lokalen Raum abspielt, wo Informationsmedien seit Jahren mit strukturell bedingten Herausforderungen zu kämpfen haben. Neue lokale Angebote wie Relevanzreporter können dabei helfen, wieder mehr Vielfalt in die Berichterstattung zu bringen und Bürger*innen zu mehr Engagement, politischer Beteiligung und Interesse am öffentlichen Diskurs zu motivieren. Durch die partizipative Form des Journalismus und die kreative digitale Community-Entwicklung sorgen Relevanzreporter zudem für Innovation im Mediensektor.
Photo: Benjamin Jenak
Open Society Foundations
GLS Treuhand e.V.
Veto Magazine for Protest and Responsibility is published by Rederei gUG, a Dresden-based agency for dialogue and political and societal engagement that develops strategies and concepts to promote engagement and commitment throughout society. It also offers political education projects on news.
Who and what is “civil society”? It is precisely because these questions often go unanswered that Rederei gUG launched Veto magazine with the aim of making political and societal engagement and commitment visible in Germany. From 2020 there will be a quarterly print edition of the magazine. Veto wants to be the voice of the ranks of thousands of politically and socially engaged individuals and to show what they do and achieve, day in day out.
Veto magazine fills a gap in the media landscape because Germany has no comparable media outlet that brings together and disseminates the knowledge, experience and the ideas of the country’s politically and socially engaged and committed individuals. Together we shall ensure that the general public is made fully aware of successful strategies and projects.
Dataharvest 2022 | Photo: Layla Aerts
ARENA FOR JOURNALISM IN EUROPE supports collaborative journalism across geographical and professional borders. The core activities of ARENA are planning and organizing the annual Dataharvest – the European Investigative Journalism Conference, as well as facilitating open networks for information and knowledge sharing to help journalists to collaborate across borders.
Politicians, business leaders, and even organized criminals act across borders. Societal challenges often have inter- or transnational character. In such a context, journalists need to collaborate to provide adequate journalism to audiences. But they need an infrastructure where to meet the right colleagues for such collaborations. ARENA provides such necessary infrastructure.
Like the members of ARENA, we believe that collaborative journalism is crucial to knowledge sharing, critical thinking and political life in European societies. ARENA has as its purpose to stimulate and support cross-border collaborative and investigative journalism in Europe, including collaboration with other professions. We share the belief that such journalism contributes to information exchange, critical thought, mutual understanding and democracy in Europe.
Photo: NDR Jenny von Gagern
Bad news dominates the news agenda. The mantra "bad news is good news" still persists – because, so the thinking goes, »bad news« sells better and thus generates more profit. Constructive Journalism is an approach that promotes deeper thought that goes beyond the headlines. It is all about reporting the full context of issues and the potential solutions to those issues and problems. This is the goal of the Constructive Journalism Day - a one-day journalistic symposium to which the Hamburg Media School and NDR Info have been inviting participants once a year since 2018.
The complex challenges of our time require critically thinking and committed people who are willing to take responsibility for themselves and society. But many people feel powerless and overwhelmed in the face of the flood of information and the constant buzz of alarm that dominates the media landscape. They switch off. It is a task of journalism to inform constructively and to offer a perspective.
The aim of the annual conference is to present and discuss the concept of constructive journalism in all its facets. The conference offers the space to find answers to questions that are central to solution-oriented journalism in a joint exchange. Inspired by keynote speeches from experts, participants will develop ideas and ways to ensure critical reporting and information about social and political issues, while at the same time providing broad scope for positive developments. Through such an exchange, important impulses are set that can strengthen the entire field of journalism.
The European Journalism Centre, founded in 1992, is an international non-profit organisation based in the Netherlands with the remit to improve, strengthen, and underpin journalism and the news media in the interest of a functioning democratic public sphere.
The Schöpflin Foundation and the European Journalism Centre (EJC) share the conviction that free access to information and a free press is a prerequisite for an open society and a cornerstone of democracy. The EJC is strengthening the resilience of European journalism by connecting journalists to new ideas, skills, people and funding with its programmes.
The EJC, Schöpflin Foundation, and other foundations are partnering on the Journalism Funders Forum (JFF). JFF is an open community of European foundations and journalists working together to ensure more effective and impactful funding of journalism in Europe.
Photo: Rafael Ben-Ari / AdobeStock
JX FUND is a fund for journalists in exile that we launched in March 2022 together with Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Rudolf Augstein Foundation following Russia's attack on Ukraine. Its aim is to support media professionals quickly and effectively in continuing their work immediately after fleeing war and crisis zones, and to strengthen independent media in exile beyond the current period of heightened attention.
JX Fund is supported by a broad alliance of diverse media and civil society organizations. So far, these include the research center CORRECTIV, our House for Journalism & the Public PUBLIX, the media and science platform DEKODER, the European Center for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), the NGO Media in Cooperation and Transition (MiCT), the Network for Eastern European Reporting (n-East) and the taz Panter Foundation. In early April 2022, the German government announced that it would support the fund with 800,000 Euros.
The JX Fund acts as interface bundling the numerous offers of help from companies, government agencies and social initiatives in Germany and forwarding them in a targeted manner to where they are most urgently needed.
Netzwerk Recherche e.V. was founded in 2001 by a group of journalists in order to bolster investigative and quality journalism in Germany. By 2017 this not-for-profit network had notched up more than 800 members from every branch of the media industry. In order to share its research techniques, the network runs conferences – like the network’s annual conference attended by some 900 journalists – and produces publications. Netzwerk Recherche directly supports journalistic work through research grants and provides bursaries for journalism projects.
By partnering with Netzwerk Recherche e.V. we believe there is an opportunity to further strengthen and grow investigative and non-profit journalism and thereby establish it as a third and important pillar of journalism, alongside the journalism provided by the major publishing houses and by state media.
Together we want to show that there are new ways to set up and finance non-profit journalism. The joint ‘Grow Bursary’ programme supports start-ups and non-profit journalism, helping them to implement their projects.News
Photo: Diskutier Mit Mir
Diskutier Mit Mir e. V. is an initiative that encourages democratic dialogue. The NGO's goal and aspiration is to give all citizens a voice. The app of 'Diskutier Mit Mir' ('Discuss with me') opens safe spaces for digital exchange and brings people with different views into discussion. Every chat is a path to mutual understanding, every engagement and every contribution strengthens the central concern of 'Diskutier Mit Mir' to counteract hatred and polarization in our society. In this way, 'Diskutier Mit Mir' is aiming at hundreds of thousands of users in the run-up to the 2021 federal election.
Political discourse in Germany has become characterised by what are known as online »filter bubbles« – in other words we are, for the most part, connected with only those people who share our views. Pre-selected information, and a lack of discourse and political polarization create a divided society. Instead of well-thought-out debate, emotionally charged half-truths seem to be the order of the day. We are supporting the 'Diskutier Mit Mir' project because it promotes contact between people with diverging points of view.
We want to develop 'Discuss With Me' into a leading standard tool for political communication in Germany. The focus is on low-threshold offers for all those who otherwise do not feel listened to and who have so far hardly been involved in the debates. Our goal is to create positive experiences of democracy in order to overcome the growing distance between political actors and the 'invisible third' in society.
FragDenStaat.de (literally ‘Ask-The-State’) is Germany’s freedom-of-information online platform. It enables everyone to obtain information from the authorities in a straightforward and transparent way. Using campaigns and strategic actions, FragDenStaat is improving the freedom-of-information ecosystem – and empowers journalists, campaign groups and private individuals to assert their right to information.
FragDenStaat is a digital infrastructure for democracy. As such it fulfils the goals of freedom-of-information legislation and creates transparency. This improves the democratic process by which opinions are formed and decisions made. It also facilitates better monitoring and oversight of how the state operates.
We want more people to benefit from FragDenStaat. To achieve this, we are developing new campaigns for greater openness with environmental information for example; we are expanding the platform’s functionality; and we are bringing new strategic legal actions relating to freedom of information.News
[Translate to English:] Foto: Patricia Costello
Wikimedia Deutschland (Wikimedia Germany) is a non-profit association with around 90,000 members and 150 employees. San Francisco and Berlin are the two major locations of the international Wikimedia Movement. Among other things, Wikimedia supports the free Internet encyclopedia Wikipedia, which is one of the fifth most popular websites in Germany and the only non-commercial website in the top 20 internationally.
Wikimedia is a global movement whose mission is to bring free educational content to the world. Through various projects, chapters and the support structure of the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation, Wikimedia strives to bring about a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.
Wikimedia Deutschland now aims to have a European legal structure “Wikimedia Europe” as an organization of organizations. Wikimedia Europe is to complement and strengthen the work of national chapters. Ongoing cooperation on EU policy has proved that pooling resources from chapters provides our community with benefits that none of the chapters could achieve by themselves. This will ensure sustainability, resilience, and growth for the whole Movement. We believe that in the Europe we live in today, the European perspective should be taken by default. To only operate on a national level is subject to justification and not the other way around.
Rudolf Augstein Stiftung
Luminate UK, PHINEO, the Rudolf Augstein Foundation and the Schöpflin Foundation are cooperating on a field report that
The report focuses on Germany, but also takes into account outstanding European and international examples. It will be published by the end of September 2020.
We are currently experiencing a reorganization of journalism: Obsolete and collapsing financing models, dependence on tech platforms and a crisis of trust and authority suggest that there is a lack of viable concepts for sustainable journalism.
One of many approaches to ensuring quality journalism for the future lies in the systematic and increased promotion of corresponding offers in the area of freedom of information and expression and journalism projects oriented towards the common good.
By identifying offers and potentials in the field, the report can serve as a guideline for funding decisions and provide quality-assured orientation for financial commitment. In this way, relevant actors in the field are supported and the journalistic commitment to the public benefit, as well as freedom of information and expression is strengthened in the long term.
Photo: David Ausserhofer
The Nina Grunenberg Fellowship is directed at interested journalists (freelance and employed), editors from local and national media as well as news agencies. It aims to provide insights into the structures of the educational system at German schools.
The German school system is facing major challenges: A shortage of teachers, growing educational deficits, unevenly distributed educational opportunities, and a 45 billion euro backlog of school construction projects. This makes well-founded reporting on the current educational issues all the more important. However, this is not reflected in many editorial departments. There are only a few education editorial departments or education topic pages.
This is where the Schöpflin Foundation, the Wübben Foundation and the ZEIT Foundation come together to offer a scholarship for well-founded reporting on the school system.
The goal of the fellowship is to give journalists and editors from news agencies in Germany the opportunity to better understand the structures of the education system and the challenges of schools in order to ensure qualified reporting.
Sometimes it doesn’t take much to bring about positive change. Through its »Rapid Response Grants« the Schöpflin Foundation provides organisations and projects with straightforward and rapid financial support - enabling them to implement their innovative and sustainable ideas, projects and initiatives. The maximum grant is 25.000 € per project, no applications can be submitted.
International and national
Up to 25.000 €
KONTEXT Verein für ganzheitlichen Journalismus e.V. | The charitable weekly newspaper KONTEXT is the critical voice in the South West, which – since 2011 - enlightens where others are silent.
Radikale Töchter gUG | Radikale Töchter (Radical Daughters) enable young people from Saxony to take part in a radical courage and action training as part of a scholarship.
Transparency for Iran e.V. | The German-speaking online magazine Iran Journal reports on developments in the realm of civil society in Iran and Iran’s relations with the rest of the world since 2010.
Zukunftsacker | A podcast as a listening-journey into a future suitable for granchildren. 12 episodes present and discuss solution approaches based on virtual events for the agriculture and food sector, economy and politics.
Fritt Ord Foundation
Nicolas Puech Foundation
Rudolf Augstein Stiftung
CIVITATES provides funding for civil society actors to come together, revitalise public discourse, and ensure that all voices are heard. Because we need a strong civil society to shape vibrant and open European democracies that work for all.
With its Sub-Fund »Public Interest Journalism in Europe«, CIVITATES aims to establish a strong cohort of independent public interest journalism organisations which defend democracy in Europe by exposing abuses of power and drivers of polarisation, and defending a space in which all voices are heard.
Our mutual goal is to support independent journalism and to help bring new funding into the sector, while providing structural, core support for the organisations in the field that need it the most.
Photo: KU Kreatives Unternehmertum
KU Kreatives Unternehmertum gGmbH has devoted itself to business education and promotes a new approach to education in terms of how to shape the society in which we live. The approach involves organisations and individuals having an entrepreneurial impact on, with and for society that is orientated towards the common good and the public interest. From its premises it carries out research into the liveable future and, together with other pioneering organisations, devises education formats for groups and organisations that shape society. The work is interdisciplinary and inter-generational.
Local media enable citizens to take part in democracy; guarantee public scrutiny; contribute to a sense of identifying with the local environment; and even go so far as to act as a counterbalance to the global sphere of influence. But how can this form of journalism be financed and organised now that the traditional ways of working are no longer valid? On 18th October 2018 around 100 participants from a wide range of sectors came together to look at these issues and to discuss new models that could be developed for collaboration between the business world, civil society and public-service broadcasters. We support this type of event because local journalism has a key role to play in the future of our democracy.
Journalism, it would seem, is no longer a successful business model. Today, it’s all about attracting attention and as many readers as possible – and far less about actual information. In the digital world, businesses place their adverts wherever they can attract the highest number of mouse clicks. The danger is that journalism becomes little more than a side-show – which results in a loss of democratic opinion-forming and democratic diversity. The aim of the ‘Local Journalism and Democracy’ conference was to rediscover local journalism as an expression of corporate social responsibility through multiple visions and perspectives.
The majority of media articles are predominantly negative. Studies show that this leads to a skewed perception of reality and needless pessimism. The Noah Foundation therefore promotes journalism that focuses on opportunities and solutions. This gives readers a more balanced world view and increases the likelihood that they will play a more constructive role in society.
High-quality and constructive journalism contributes to a more optimistic and responsible moulding of society. It is therefore important to strengthen this form of journalism so that it becomes a truly integral part of what shapes public opinion.
Together we have strengthened and grown support for solution-oriented journalism. In addition to regular, tried and tested bursaries for journalists, the Noah Foundation has developed its innovative Good News App.News
ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius
#UseTheNews is a broadscale, multi-year project with partners from the media and media research. Its goal is to gain a better understanding of the use of news and news literacy, to develop better news formats, especially for younger people, and to improve the teaching of news literacy in Germany.
The grant has supported a conference on the topic of news literacy on September 15, 2021, aimed at journalists and teachers. The conference will be organized by Netzwerk Recherche e.V. together with the Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) and the Hamburg Ministry of Culture and Media (BKM).
In today's world, news literacy is a basic prerequisite for critical awareness among children, adolescents and young adults, as well as for a strong democracy and its further development. The conference's goal was to help strengthen the teaching of news literacy in schools and everyday life.
Foto: Patryk Witt / ZPS
2017 to 2020
The Zentrum für Politische Schönheit ("Center for Political Beauty") describes itself as an assault team that establishes "moral beauty, political poetry and human greatness" – all with the aim of "protecting humanity". The Center is one of the most innovative incubators for political performance art and is a byword for a broader form of theatre: art must hurt, provoke and rise up in revolt. This, they sum up by the term "aggressive humanism".
The aim here is to promote and support the development of a transparent, self-determined and democratic society. In this context, action – particularly action through art and specifically theatre – that is targeted, disruptive and extraordinary, can lead to greater awareness and thus to change. As an incubator for political performance art, the Zentrum für Politische Schönheit has a central civil-society role to play.
Our shared goal is to make the lessons of the Second World War one of the most important issues for the younger generation and thereby actively promote the defence of human rights.
"Critical and high-quality journalism enables me to participate in society. Achieving this for as many people as possible and thereby contributing to greater democracy is the very bedrock of our Media & Society program."
Lukas Harlan is head of the Media & Society program at the Schöpflin Foundation. He has worked as a founder, social entrepreneur, and cultural and educational manager. For many years, he has been advising civil society organizations on strategy and development issues. He studied philosophy, cultural reflection and public policy at the Universities of Witten/Herdecke and the Humboldt Viadrina School of Governance in Berlin.