The European Investigative Journalism Conference

Going local: Local journalists – unite for impact!

We focus on the journalism close to the audience’s concerns and how we can cooperate across borders to make an impact on national and European level.

By Jose Miguel Calatayud 

Political and economic crises are often accompanied by a crisis of trust in mainstream journalism. In the last couple of years vested political interests have systematically cast doubt on established media, which many disaffected citizens perceive as being out of touch with their day-to-day reality.

Have the media and we journalists contributed to this creditability crisis ourselves? Have the news media failed to see beyond those leaders shouting the loudest and focused on sensationalist stories that bring in more clicks. How can then journalism regain its audience’s trust?

In a way, the answer is quite simple. Journalists should aim to responsibly fulfil their most fundamental roles: engaging with citizens to hear about what affects them most in their everyday life, bringing the public interest into the political agenda, and facilitating public debate to hold those in power to account.

The journalists reporting on local issues are particularly well suited to carry out such tasks, as they are themselves part of the communities they are reporting about. They can engage with and listen to the people in their communities and then report on what’s affecting people’s lives.

However, what local journalism often lack is the capacity and critical mass to take those issues into the political agenda to reach those in the centres of power.

That is why this year’s EIJC & Dataharvest is having a Local track: to discuss how journalists covering local issues all over Europe can come together for their reporting to have greater visibility and impact – also at the EU level.

The Local track will also explore other questions regarding local journalism. What are the business models of new local media? How do their newsrooms function and how do they engage with their local communities? How are local journalists carrying out investigations? Is it possible to establish country-wide networks of many local investigative journalists? What tools and platforms are available for small newsrooms to crowdsource local data?

On top of that, the Local track will focus on the coverage of housing, a topic that has become highly relevant across different countries, cities and towns all over Europe.

In particular, and even though there are localised contextual differences, access to affordable and decent housing is becoming increasingly difficult for more and more people. The young can’t afford leaving their parents’ home, migrants are discriminated against in the housing markets, the number of homeless people is increasing, and many from the middle class can barely afford decent housing.

The Local track will showcase excellent local, data and investigative reporting about housing being done around Europe, and it will bring together editors, journalists, academic researchers and other experts to discuss how their work on housing may end up having a greater impact on the public debate.

Would you like to discuss this further or network with other reporters about local collaboration and housing? Join the discussion at (conference participants only) – people are discussing there already!