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Call for Proposals in the field of data-driven news production
Deadline: 26 Sep 2016   CALL EXPIRED

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 Audiovisual Services
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 New Media
 Photography
 Web

1. INTRODUCTION – BACKGROUND

The Political Guidelines for the Commission "A New Start for Europe: Agenda for Jobs, Growth, Fairness and Democratic Change” presented by President Jean-Claude Juncker on 15 July 2014 to the European Parliament describe various ways of “bringing the European Union closer to citizens”.

In this context, DG Connect has been entrusted the management of support for Multimedia Actions that aim at engaging citizens in the EU policy-making process by providing them with information about European issues from a pan-European point of view i.e. showing more than only a national perspective. Support is given for the production and dissemination of information and content, while respecting complete editorial independence.

Recent events across Europe show that there is room for new ways of reporting. The production of news and current affairs content is changing rapidly, and newsrooms are adapting to new consumption habits and increased competition. Journalists are also under pressure as the speed and amount of information is increasing.

Challenges are manifold, with media searching for ways to retain audiences with new business models and different forms of content. Several reports point to "big data" as one of the main opportunities, for instance to monitor news, to cater to specific audiences and to produce innovative content.1

In this context, big data may help to increase reporting on European issues by making it easier for media companies/journalists to produce innovative and attractive content around such topics, allowing citizens to be better informed about the EU.

In line with Financing Decision C(2016)652, the current Call for Proposals aims to exploit this opportunity by supporting data-driven reporting on European issues i.e. the range of topics that are addressed by the EU.

2. OBJECTIVE(S) – THEME(S) – PRIORITIES

Objectives

This Call aims to increase reporting on European issues, from a pan-European viewpoint and/or by comparing different viewpoints from within Europe. To do so, it stimulates the production of innovative content through data-driven research and visualisations and the distribution of such content to as many EU citizens as possible.

In line with this objective, applicants should describe their approach to content production (increased coverage) and to content distribution (increased reach).

Objective 1 - Content production

Today, EU affairs are arguably under-represented in printed and digital media, in spite of their actual relevance to people's daily life. Reporting on EU affairs often lacks a broader multi-national perspective, and there is scope to increase opportunities for citizens to find and share qualitative media reports on EU affairs.

To engage citizens in the EU policy-making process, it is essential to provide information on EU affairs that is characterised by independent, professional and high-quality reporting. This Call aims to increase the production of content that adheres to these principles and that uses new technologies to maximise audiences. Content can for instance make use of data research, visualise data to compare viewpoints across Europe, help audiences understand complex topics through clear and factual reporting, contextualise story timelines and/or encourage interaction with the audience.

Expected results include increased coverage of EU affairs in terms of volume and quality. The content of such "increased coverage" will depend on the editorial choice of the applicants. Proposals are free to indicate whether the focus will be on breaking news and/or on more in-depth background reporting on current affairs.

The editorial independence will be guaranteed by a charter of independence that will be part of the agreement between the European Commission and the awarded applicants.

Objective 2 – Content distribution.

To reach a maximum number of audiences, this Call aims for maximum republication of content in media outlets and social media across the EU. To do so, the content production process will need to take into account the needs of partners and potential partners from the outset.

As competition is increasing, many media outlets are looking for ways to work together with colleagues (often outside of their national markets) to bundle their research capacity and produce innovative content against minimum costs.

This Call aims to stimulate such collaboration on European topics. It aims to support proposals of media companies/journalists that aim to produce content and distribute content involving as many media/journalists and end-users across the EU as possible. It aims to support proposals that identify the needs of partners as well as potential partners across the EU and design a production process that can contribute to those needs.

Expected results include increased reporting on EU affairs by national and regional media across the EU, from a pan-European viewpoint and/or by comparing different viewpoints from within Europe.

Priorities

Priorities per activity include the following:

1. Content production

Applicants should focus on production of innovative news content around EU affairs and topics affecting multiple Member States. The editorial priorities should be established independently by a professional editorial team, with members from at least four EU Member States.

Applicants must indicate in the proposal how they intend to generate a European perspective i.e. add value to existing reporting on EU affairs by newswires and national/regional media, regardless of the topics they choose. Proposals are free to indicate whether the focus will be on breaking news and/or on more in-depth background reporting on current affairs.

Proposals should clearly describe workflows, including editorial workflows for journalists to produce content on a regular basis, using sources from multiple countries. The editorial workflow should explain the applicants' approach to gathering different sources/viewpoints, and provide examples of how their content will address multiple viewpoints and allow the reader to form their own opinion.

Proposals should outline which formats will be used, such as for instance thematic and multimedia files, videos, audio, photos, illustrations, graphics, maps, data journalism perspectives, interactive contents and/or user-generated content. The choice of formats should be cost-effective and in line with the news consumption habits across Europe.

Proposals may include visualisation of data to compare viewpoints across Europe, navigate story timelines, illustrate policy implications of pan-European and EU topics and/or encourage interaction with the audience. Mock-ups of such visualisations may be included in the offer.

To increase the potential dissemination by other media, proposals must indicate how EU topics will be categorised and how content will be prepared to fit into "regular" non-EU reporting. Applicants are encouraged to explore a "topical approach" that can be of interest to more people than only those interested in politics.

Content should be made available on a dedicated platform that is clearly open to other media and end-users. It can for instance provide guidelines for producing/distributing content, explain the modalities of collaboration, provide raw data sets and/or provide links to multiple data streams2. It may also gather useful tools to navigate "big data", to analyse news events across Europe3, to analyse public opinion across Europe and/or to do sentiment analysis. Tools to monitor social media and user-generated content may be considered if relevant for the content being produced.

Proposals should describe how a taxonomy/categorisation of topics will be established, preferably combining the user's terminology with EU terminology. The platform should include search functionalities that can combine such categorisation with the metatags of different sources. It should be suitable for covering a multitude of topics in the long run, yet it is possible to start with focal topics. Apart from text search, proposals may also consider ways to search audio and video content.

Proposals should provide a mock-up to illustrate how the platform may look. 2. Content distribution

Projects should aim for maximum distribution and redistribution of their content by media across Europe, taking multilingualism into account.

Applicants are encouraged to work together with existing media companies. Applicants can aim to provide visuals and data-driven news illustrating European issues to established media companies, helping them compare viewpoints across Europe and increase critical thinking among their audience.

Applicants should therefore indicate to what extent the project can be relevant for other media outlets in Europe, which activities will be undertaken to promote the project to them, and how they will phrase the project's main business benefit to these outlets.

Proposals should contain an outreach plan, indicating how national/regional media editors will be addressed and encouraged to use the proposed materials. The outreach plan should privilege digital means such as mailings, virtual meetings, webinars or other cost-effective ways to exchange best practices. The plan should also consider other multipliers and social media to boost dissemination, and explain how the content aims to engage the target audience. The plan should include clear objectives for each of the target audiences and include mid-term and final targets.

To maximise republication of content across the EU, applicants will need to identify the needs of partners and potential partners, and take those needs into account from the outset when designing the production process. The proposal should clearly explain the workflows and the conditions for involving others. It should provide quantifiable but realistic ambitions in this regard, providing proof and/or indicators of interest from content producers as well as distributors to publish on media outlets and social media.

Objectively verifiable indicators

Proposals should include concrete deliverables and set clear, objectively verifiable and quantifiable performance indicators where possible, both for content production and content distribution activities.

Sustainability

Proposals should address sustainability and indicate whether the project can be continued independently after the requested period of EU support.

An organisational structure that allows continuation of the project will be perceived favourably. Subcontractors are allowed, but maximum 30% of costs can be subcontracted.

3. TIMETABLE

a) Publication of the call 29/06/2016

b) Deadline for sending applications 26/09/2016

c) Evaluation period October 2016

d) Information to applicants November 2016

e) Signature of grant agreement or notification of grant decision December 2016

f) Starting date of the grant agreement 1/1/2017

4. BUDGET AVAILABLE

The total budget earmarked for the co-financing of projects is estimated at 1.950.000 Euros. The Commission intends to fund one, two or three proposals, but reserves the right not to distribute all the funds available.

5. ADMISSIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

Applications must be sent no later than the deadline for submitting applications referred to in section 3.

Applications must be submitted in writing (see section 14), using the application form available at https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/newsroom/call- proposals/all

Applications must be drafted in one the EU official languages.

Failure to comply with those requirements will lead to the rejection of the application.

6. ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA

6.1. Eligible applicants
Only applications from legal entities established in the EU Member States are eligible.

Applications may be submitted by one applicant, whether established specifically or not for the action, provided that:

- it is formed of several legal entities complying with the eligibility, non-exclusion and selection criteria set out in this call for proposals, and implementing together the proposed action;

- the application identifies the said entities.

For the purpose of declaring eligible costs as specified under section 11.2, the entities composing the applicant shall then be treated as affiliated entities.

In order to assess the applicants' eligibility, the following supporting documents are requested:

  • -  private entity: extract from the official journal, copy of articles of association, extract of trade or association register, certificate of liability to VAT (if, as in certain countries, the trade register number and VAT number are identical, only one of these documents is required);

  • -  public entity: copy of the resolution or decision establishing the public company, or other official document establishing the public-law entity;

  • -  consortium: in addition to the supporting documents referring to their legal status, consortium members will submit letters confirming their participation to the project,

  • -  entities without legal personality: documents providing evidence that their representative(s) have the capacity to undertake legal obligations on their behalf.

    Legal entities having a legal or capital link with applicants, which is neither limited to the action nor established for the sole purpose of its implementation, may take part in the action as affiliated entities, and may declare eligible costs as specified in section 11.2.

    For that purpose, applicants shall identify such affiliated entities in the application form.

6.2. Eligible activities

Types of activities eligible under this call for proposals: - research activities
- data filtering and categorisation
- organisation of collaborative digital workspaces

- content production (may include articles, visuals, video and audio content) - editorial supervision
- content adaptation
- building/maintaining a suitable technical web-platform for publication

- webinars and virtual meetings
- activities to enlarge uptake by other media and exchange good practices - promotion and dissemination of results to media and/or end-users

Implementation period

The grant agreement will start on 1 January 2017 with a minimum duration of one year and a maximum duration of three years. Activities should start between 1 January 2017 and 1 July 2017.

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