20 journalists from all over Europe will get a chance to build cross-border networks in the new “European Collaborative Journalism programme” offered by German Toepfer Stiftung.

The program is aimed at journalists from local and regional media and will consist of two steps: First a 3-day seminar to network and develop ideas, then participation in the 2020 Dataharvest – The European Investigative Journalism Conference, arranged by Arena for Journalism in Europe.

Toepfer Stiftung initiates this program to support quality journalism and to connect journalists from all over Europe. Journalism and media freedom are under pressure, and financial constraint affect the possibilities for investigative researches and the work of local and regional journalists. At the same time, the number cross-border topics is constantly increasing, as in the fields of environment, traffic, migration or organised crime. Cross-border collaboration of journalists enable to continue investigative journalism and to hold power structures accountable despite declining resources.

The program will build up a network of the 20 participants from all over Europe, and they will be able to develop ideas for collaborations. The two meetings will be respectively Feb 27 – March 1 in Germany and May 14-17 at Dataharvest in Mechelen, Belgium.

We are preparing next year’s conference – and we would like to hear, what you need! Who would you like to hear, what do you need to learn? Would you like to share your expertise with the Dataharvest community? Who from your country or working on your beat would be a great keynote speaker? Send us your ideas by filling out this form!

Don’t think that your work filling in the feedback form is wasted. We read every answer carefully and consider criticism and advice.

Let’s admit it, we frolic in comments such as “Good organisation, good topics, great networking and story ideas” or “great atmosphere, great input, impressive cooperativeness”. We love reading “No bullshit – everyone’s there because they actually do or want to do data/investigative journalism” or “It is a great gathering of genuinely interesting colleagues from all over. Inspiring!”.

But we also go through the critical points one by one and consider how things can be changed. The layout of the conference rooms? – well, there is a limit to what we can do, but it can maybe be improved somewhat. The technical set-ups, so sessions are not delayed because of trouble with PCs and projectors – yes, we should be able to solve that. Better representation from Eastern Europe – we are fundraising specifically for that, so please cross your fingers!

A number of you pointed to the fact that we are journalists and editors – not speakers! So for next year we plan a full day pre-conference workshop for speakers who want to improve their presentation skills – plus a set of online guidelines on how to make good and concise presentations.

And then the food! We are wringing our brains to find ways to vary and improve lunch, but there are also limits on both economy and practicalities: How can we serve 500 people lunch in one hour? We have been working on making lunch greener, and feedback shows that it worked some days, but not all. (It did feel a bit unfair, though, when someone complained about sandwiches 4 days in a row, when the conference only has 3 lunches!). But there is always room for improvement, and we work on it again 2020.

Did you forget to send your comments after the conference? You can still access the feedback form if you have comments that are not pitches for the 2020 program.