The European Investigative Journalism Conference

Levelling up: Arena Housing steps up in a new shape

Winning the European Press Prize Innovation Award in 2022, the cross-border project Cities for Rent reached a high after a three year journey. What had started with an intense housing track at Dataharvest 2019 and an open-access housing network had become an award-winning cross-border investigation. And a big one: 18 newsrooms, 25 journalists in 16 countries, and one massive data collection and investigation into the European housing market – the Cities 4 Rent project.

The housing network: United in shared problems and new research methods

“We were really amazed by all the great findings of our colleagues around Europe”, said Hendrik Lehmann and Gaby Khazalová, two of the lead journalists in the Cities 4 Rent investigation and initiators of the new housing network “The European Cities Investigative Journalism Accelerator”. “Each of our colleagues from all around Europe had their different methodological skills – on top of their local knowledge and language skills, of course. After the project won the European Press prize 2022, we decided, we should continue this great work and keep the network alive.”

And so The European Cities Investigative Journalism Accelerator was born. Evolving from the Cities 4 Rent project focused on housing in European capitals, the new initiative sets out to become a more encompassing urban journalism network that covers all major urban problems. The goal: Investigating problems and power structures, finding stories that can be told across European cities and across borders. 

Do you know how your city is doing? No? We should take a look!

“It is difficult to know how your own city is ‘doing’ if you don’t compare it to others”, Hendrik explains. The European urban housing network “allows for an amazing combination of extremely local reporting with international cross-border research. You can suddenly explain international financial systems with examples in front of people’s doorsteps.”

And looking at how our cities are doing becomes more urgent each day. Right now 75% of all people in Europe are living in cities, by 2040 it will be 80 per cent. Whether it is about the growing population in cities, about traffic, crime or the adaptation to climate change, “most of all human challenges of the future will be urban” Hendrik says. “As journalists we need to report on these topics, identify the victims of these processes, identify the actors that make urban life worse – and look for solutions.” 

“These kinds of collaborative technologies allow crazy gains”

At the heart of the network lies different uses of technology for investigations and data-driven reporting to achieve just that.

“Within the investigation “Cities 4 Rent”, we started to develop a system for shared translatable data visualizations and visual storytelling that proved extremely useful,” says Hendrick. At the same time the team developed workflows to share data and research across journalists and media organizations. “These kinds of collaborative technologies allow crazy gains in reporting speed and efficiency of production of the outcomes – that really unite many of us and are read a lot by readers all around Europe”.

Interested in the new and fresh housing network? Join the following sessions!

Learn more about the Cities 4 Rent project and the new initiative “The European Cities Investigative Journalism Accelerator” join Hendrik and Gaby at the sessions on Saturday “Three years of European housing investigation: A guide” and on Sunday “Urban journalism is the future! Connect with journalists from other cities to improve your research”.