In conversation with: Ludovic Blecher & Rosalia Lloret




Ludovic Blecher, Head of the Digital News Innovation Fund, and Rosalia Lloret, external Fund Council member and Head of Institutional and Public Relations at Online Publishers Association Europe sat down to discuss their thoughts on the DNI Fund and its impact.

At its core is this open source approach based on collaboration and mutual benefit.

Ludovic Blecher
Head of the Digital News Innovation Fund

How have you seen the Fund evolve and grow over the years?

LB  As the DNI Fund enters its third year, the community of project owners has grown with it, and we’re seeing more and more positive outcomes. In the early days, we saw a lot of brilliant ideas begin their journeys. But execution takes time – and now we’re at the stage where some of these ideas start having an impact where it matters most: in newsrooms.

RL  I'd add that one of the reasons they're making that impact is because more and more teams are working together, sharing their experiences and expertise. For me, increased collaboration is the standout feature of this past year.

LB  I agree that one of the most innovative approaches is collaboration, and I strongly believe it’s the next big thing in news. And what’s great is that it's happened organically. While the spirit of collaboration has been welcomed by the DNI Fund team, the enthusiasm and act of collaboration has come from the industry and the applicants themselves. 

RL  By coming together, people realise that they have more in common than they thought. But they aren't only pooling resources to create something just for that group – in many cases they're sharing their innovations with anybody who is interested. For example, we've seen many projects that use open source coding, which is freely available for all to access.

LB  The whole approach from the project owners has been very open source; not only from a code perspective, but embracing an open source mindset. 

Has the Fund made a difference to the wider news ecosystem?

LB  We’re now starting to really see the impact of the Fund. So far we’ve received 4800+ applications, and looking more narrowly, we’ve funded 461 projects. That’s a lot of news industry experts across Europe spending time and energy on something completely new and embracing fresh approaches.

RL  The Fund has brought visibility and a much sharper focus to the business of innovation for those engaged with it. It’s not just about the money, it’s about supporting innovators that want to experiment from within media organisations. It’s sparking both industry-wide innovation as well as internal innovation within organisations themselves. One of the Fund’s biggest impacts is difficult to quantify, because it’s about a change in mindset. 

One of the Fund’s biggest impacts is 
the change in mindset.

Rosalia Lloret - External Fund Council member and Head of Institutional and Public Relations at Online Publishers Association Europe

What has the Fund done for local publishers or organisations?

LB  There's a lot of opportunity for innovation across the news ecosystem, and this is also true for local publishers. We've found with local projects and applicants to the DNI Fund that they're really finding recipes that meet their specific needs. They're reconnecting the dots with their communities and are trying to build innovative and more engaging experiences using local data. 

RL  Again, I think it all comes back to sharing knowledge. Small, local publishers can learn so much from each other – from organisations that face similar challenges in countries across Europe, as well as from their local peers. 

What lessons have you learnt? 

RL  Moving forward it would be great to see the DNI Fund team supporting and following up projects a bit more closely; providing more resources to connect innovators, helping project owners learn from others successes and failures, and empowering the sharing of technology.

LB  If I could turn back the clock I think we could have really built in knowledge sharing from the start of the process. We were a little reserved at first about who might want to share what. But as the DNI Fund has progressed it's become clear that at its core is this open source approach based on collaboration and mutual benefit. We will do much more this year to share knowledge and connect innovators for the benefit of the news ecosystem overall. 

RL  This feeling of togetherness and support is one of the aspects of the Fund that makes me really proud to be involved. At first glance, the individual applicants and projects appear to be so diverse, but actually when you dive deeper, they all share several attributes and challenges. At heart, they're all striving to compete in a complex world and to ensure the sustainability of quality journalism – and that's a goal that everybody can get behind. 

Featured projects

DNI Fund Report 2020

Explore this year's report to find out about projects that have been supported by the DNI Fund and the impact they’re having in newsrooms across Europe.
Download full report