Crowdfunding and Collaborative Journalism Course

July 28 – August 20 2021
A Free Online Interactive Course in English for media professionals in Central and Southern Europe: 7 interactive webinars and a cross-border story pitching session. Selected projects will be published on the Press Start crowdfunding platform and receive partial funding.

Contemporary journalism, for better or worse, requires more of journalists than just responsible and extensive coverage, more than good stories, diligence and fact-checking. More often than not, a successful journalist nowadays is expected to be a fundraiser who knows exactly what’s needed for a successful crowdfunding campaign; a producer who knows how to put together effective teams and organise their collaboration, who can pitch their stories and oversee the following production for various media, and a marketer who effectively chooses and targets audiences with engaging messages. And this is exactly what this course is all about.

What does the Course cover?

Crowdfunding for cross-border stories 

Collaboration in investigative reporting 

Cross-border journalism: focus, coordination, promotion and delivery

When? April 21 - May 14.

Where? Online. 

Who can apply? We invite journalists, producers, photo reporters (photojournalists), and other media professionals from Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Slovenia, Croatia, Czechia, and Greece.  

How to sign up?  To participate in the selection process for the School, you will need to fill out a questionnaire - tell us about yourself and why you want to participate in the training course. If you already have a completed resume or biography, this should not take too much time.

When is the deadline? April 14, 8 PM CET.

Interested? Let’s have a closer look.

Contemporary journalism, for better or worse, requires more of the journalists than just responsible and extensive coverage, more than good stories, diligence and fact-checking. More often than not, a successful journalist nowadays is expected to be a fundraiser who knows exactly what’s needed for a successful crowdfunding campaign; a producer who knows how to put together effective teams and organise their collaboration, who can pitch their stories and oversee the following production for various media; and a marketer who effectively chooses and targets  audiences with engaging messages. And this is exactly what this course is all about.

What does the Course cover?

  • Crowdfunding for cross-border stories
  • Collaboration in investigative reporting
  • Cross-border journalism: focus, coordination, promotion and delivery

When? July 28 – August 20.

Where? Online.

Who can apply? We invite journalists, producers, photo reporters (photojournalists), and other media professionals from Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Slovenia, Croatia, Czechia and Greece.  

How to sign up?  To participate in the selection process for the School, you will need to fill out a questionnaire - tell us about yourself and why you want to participate in the training course. If you already have a completed resume or biography, this should not take too much time.

When is the deadline? July 20 2021, 8 PM CET.

Interested? Let’s have a closer look.

Curriculum

Block One: Crowdfunding

Trainers: Oriana Leckert (Kickstarter), Jeremy Druker (Transitions; Press Start; University of New York in Prague), Lenka Kurejkova (Press Start), Nicole Ely (Transitions)
At a time when the media is struggling to fund serious journalism, crowdfunding can be a way to get the financing you need to bring an important story to light. For many, however, it seems like a daunting prospect. It shouldn't be!
Module II: Crowdfunding with Press Start
From a successful application to the campaign itself,  this module will cover practicalities such as the initial story pitch, the collaborative reporting aspect, promoting yourself to an international audience, the story timeline, campaign budget and making your campaign profile copy as concise and engaging as possible.
Module I: Crowdfunding Fundamentals
To subdue your fears, Oriana from Kickstarter will draw from her years of experience to guide you through the best practices for creating a compelling and successful campaign. At the end of the webinar you will leave with having a better understanding of how crowdfunding for journalism works and how you can make the most of it for your project.
Module III: Promoting your campaign
What does it take to make your campaign successful without having to pay for advertising? In this module you will learn some effective techniques for spreading the word organically via your social media, and how to make your posts stand out. At the end of the module participants will understand how to: leverage your social media following to support your campaign; boost engagement on your social media channels; and monitor conversation surrounding your crowdfunding effort

Block Two: Collaborating on Investigative Reporting

Trainers: Éva Vajda (Independent investigative journalist), Zoltán Sipos (Átlátszó Erdély / Transparent Transylvania)
In this section we will show examples to illustrate how the same story might have different angles in different countries. We will also talk about the types of networking and how to plan your research in a multinational team, where language skills and competencies might be different.
Security is always an issue when collaborating in an international team. We will talk about how to make a research plan (timing, division of tasks, etc.), and how to choose the appropriate communication tools that include a level of security appropriate to the research subject. We discuss how to choose the coordinator for the team and why this role is important in securing the information flow between the team members and meeting deadlines. We will also discuss what kind of on-line tools are handy when doing cross-border collaboration, and how editorial decisions can be taken as a team. Finally, we will give you a few tips on how to pitch the story to international media outlets, and how to use the main findings to create different stories that resonate with local, national and international audiences.

Block Three: Cross-border collaborative journalism

Trainers: Natalia Marshalkovich (Free Press for Eastern Europe), Diana Petriashvili (Free Press for Eastern Europe), Svetlana Kozlova (Russian Language News Exchange), Maksym Eristavi (Independent journalist)
A successful journalistic cross-border story starts with a well-focused pitch. Who do you address in your story and what additional value does your message carry for the targeted audience?
Module I: Focus
Depending on the issue covered and audience chosen, your story, and therefore your pitch, will need to be narrowed down or expanded, specified or generalised. This module will help you understand how to identify the idea for a cross-border story - or find a fresh angle on an existing national story and how to target an international audience by choosing a well-focused narrative.
Module II: Coordination
In collaborative cross-border journalism coordination is the key. In this block the participants will learn how to coordinate cross-border production of media stories. This includes learning how to utilize communication channels, collaboration on treatments, scripts, texts, etc, tracking the project’s progress and everything in between. Participants will understand how to set up a coordination system and get simple practical tips and tricks. They will also learn to work better as a team and will put together their own basic coordination system.
Module III: Delivery
Delivery is all about how to put your work in front of the right audience. In this block we will talk about different formats and how to choose the ones that work best for your goals, and how to repackage your work into those formats. We will also talk about finding the right people profiling and targeting. We will also look into promos and A/B testing that can help you identify and reach beyond your existing audience. Participants will gain a good understanding about repackaging, profiling and targeting, as well as basic how-tos of promotion and testing.

Trainers

Oriana Leckert
Oriana is the Director of Publishing and Comics Outreach at Kickstarter, one of the world’s top crowdfunding sites. She helps a broad spectrum of creators raise funds, build community, and bring journalism projects to life. She has more than 10 years of experience as a cultural journalist, with bylines for Vice, Slate and New York Post. As a freelance Editorial, Publishing, and Fundraising Consultant she’s worked with a range of clients including Bloomsbury, MTV News, Gates Foundation, and Penguin Random House.
Jeremy Druker
Jeremy is the executive director of Transitions one of Central and Eastern Europe's leading media development organizations, and Editor-in-Chief of TOL's flagship publication, Transitions. He’s also the founder and CEO of Press Start, the first global crowdfunding platform for journalists working in repressive conditions. As a professor at New York University’s Prague campus, he teaches a course covering the ways social media has transformed society.
Nicole Ely
As the Social Media Manager for Transitions, Nicole creates and implements social media strategies for Transition’s news site and educational courses for journalists. Before joining Transitions Nicole was a Public Relations Assistant for the Institute of International Relations in Prague and contributed political commentaries and analysis on the Visegrad countries to the European Security Journal.
Natalia Marshalkovich
Editor-in-Chief at FPEE is a journalist and media manager with over two decades of background in global newsrooms and media development. Her background includes working as a multimedia journalist, editor and social media manager in France at the European TV channel Euronews. Her work centres around international politics and economy as well as the digital transition of newsrooms.
Lenka Kurejkova
Lenka started working for Press Start two years ago. Initially assisting with the application process, she gradually assumed the responsibilities of the manager for the whole project. Alongside Press Start, Lenka also administers several grant projects aimed at boosting independent journalism in Eastern Europe at Transitions.
Zoltán Sipos
Zoltán Sipos lives in Cluj-Napoca/Kolozsvár, Romania and is the Editor-in-Chief of Átlátszó Erdély (Transparent Transylvania) an investigative journalism outlet covering the 1,2-million-strong Hungarian community living in Romania. Sipos participated in several cross-border projects recently, working as an editor/coordinator in two of these.
Diana Petriashvili
Deputy Editor-in-Chief at FPEE. Before joining the team in 2016 she worked in Georgia helping to set up JAMnews, an independent news portal of South Caucasus countries. She has 20+ years of experience in covering various political and social events taking place in Georgia for regional and international media outlets.
Svetlana Kozlova
Journalist and editor, originally from Tomsk (Siberia, Russia) where she worked as a TV reporter. Now Svetlana is a producer and editor at the Russian Language News Exchange, a partnership of independent media and media professionals in Eastern Europe, Russia, and Central Asia. Before joining RLNE she worked with activists and journalists from all over Eurasia, helping them produce innovative works and reach new audiences. Svetlana also has extensive experience in project management and marketing
Éva Vajda
Eva has a proven 18-year track record in investigative journalism. She has worked for various media, including Oknyomozo.hu, Manager Magazin, Der Spiegel, Élet és Irodalom and Hungarian Public Radio. Over 30 stories written by her were picked up by national media, including a breakthrough on the fraud case of Siemens, the Hungarian Telekom, Postabank and the family enrichment of the first-term PM Viktor Orbán. For 12 years she taught journalism, media ethics and advocacy at Eötvös Lóránd University in Hungary. As an experienced trainer, she ran multiple journalism workshops in Central and Eastern Europe, including former Soviet Union, and Balkan countries.
Maksym Eristavi
Eastern European journalist and writer. His work explores the intersection of identity politics, disinformation and Russian colonialism. He amplifies and explains stories from global frontline battles for equal human and civil rights. He is a co-founder of the Russian Language News Exchange and a writer for Washington Post, Politico, Foreign Affairs, among others.

Reviews

Lucie Sýkorová
Lucie Sýkorová
Freelance journalist

I really enjoyed the course. Lectors and speakers were experienced professionals, who shared with us their knowledge. I appreciated especially the tips for practical tools on how to organize the work within the international team. It was also a great opportunity to meet colleagues from other countries and to discuss common topics. Yevgeniya, the project coordinator, was extremely helpful, supportive and always available for advice. I´d recommend the course to all who want to learn how to prepare a cross border project, set up the international team, write an application and run a crowdfunding campaign.

Francesco Ugolini
Francesco Ugolini
Freelance Writer

This course provided me with the necessary skills to engage journalists and producers from different countries, and set up an effective crowdfunding campaign as an independent journalist. I also had the opportunity to leverage the know-how of top-notch journalists and learn from their experiences how to best report when freedom of speech is at stake. What makes this course unique is what I like the most: having an unfiltered discussion with experienced professors was the most interesting part of the course. They didn't limit their classes to theoretical topics, but offered real examples and an open mentorship during the exercises and after. Professionally speaking, having the chance to delve into the entire production process of a cross-border story was illuminating and brought to my attention the importance of co-ordinating all the producers and journalists involved in a story. By showing us the tools used in real life, I brought with me an almost ready-made canvas to produce many of the story I plan to develop from now on. I was initially sceptic of remote teaching. However, the way they were planned and the proactive attitude of the hosts have proved to be on par with in-person teaching. I recommend this class to any person aspiring to become a professional in covering cross-border stories, especially if you are looking -like me - to deepen its knowledge on eastern European issues and, broadly speaking, reporting the unreported. 

Partners

The project “Enhancing Audience-Supported Collaborations for Empowered Media and Societies” is co-funded by the European Commission under the Pilot Project: Supporting investigative journalism and media freedom in the EU (DG CONNECT). This text reflects the author’s view and the Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.