The first three rounds of the DNI Innovation Fund has helped to support innovation across the European news ecosystem; after the first three rounds more than 73M euro in funding has been offered to 359 projects across 29 countries.
In the attempt to find a tidy way of describing the benefit of DNI funding, Fund Council member Veit Dengler (Former CEO, Neue Zürcher Zeitung) observed that the Fund was “kickstarting an R&D culture in newsrooms”.
Looking across a region as diverse as the European Union, and an industry that’s been innovating since the printing press, makes it difficult to draw black and white conclusions about impact just yet. But in looking at both applications and distribution of funding we are starting to see trends emerge about the evolving news ecosystem itself.
Because funded projects range from new monetisation models to AI–powered journalism, from new means of distribution to verification tools, in analysing trends we were faced with the task of developing a new system of categorising these efforts.
The first port of call was to approach academics and others to establish whether any existing classifications were available.
We soon realised that there was no existing taxonomy in the news industry and in the end we decided upon a set of categories that we feel accurately distills the spirit and the activity of the projects funded to date.
You will see these categories referenced throughout this report: Intelligence, Data Management & Workflow, Interface & Discovery, Next Journalism, Social & Community, Business Model and Distribution & Circulation.
The broad area of innovation is the creation of new processes and tools for journalism – what we’ve called ‘Next Journalism’ – and it's by far the biggest category we’ve funded to date.
Also found within this category are projects about investigation, verification tools and data–journalism, a project type that we’ve seen a growing number of applications around as the widespread concern over credibility and quality of online content continues.
Public concern about the impact of propaganda and other divisive, inaccurateor offensive material received a prompt response from Fund applicants, who recognised the issues and were quick to look for solutions that would increase trust and credibility even before the term ‘fake news’ became commonplace. To date, more than 25 such projects have received DNI Funding.
Within the category of ‘Intelligence’ we’ve seen the topic ‘AI, Bots and Machine Learning’ emerge as the biggest trend. Projects under this umbrella range from political chatbots to tools that help readers and publishers alike debunk online misinformation and propaganda.
Turning to the categories of applicants, we know that legacy media companies, i.e. those with existing news operations, represent biggest group of both applications and selected projects to date, followed by startups.
But, as ever, the headlines don’t tell the full story. Represented among the recipients are NGOs, individuals, collaborations between established companies and new entrants plus a whole host of other configurations. In an ecosystem that’s evolving, we’re thrilled that the funded projects are as diverse as the applicants themselves.
Download the full DNI Innovation Fund report 2016-2017 here to read more about some of our funded projects and key insights from the report.