A new year for collaborative journalism

Shaken by crises as we are these years, we, journalists, obviously must sometimes stop and think: How do we best act here? Journalism as usual does not seem quite enough in these times. So for 2024, we are looking forward to developing our profession, to keep exploring new paths, and to focusing on the urgent and painful topics of our time, so we can push for solutions for our societies. And we are stronger if we do it together.

Collaboration is the key feature that defines the community around Arena for Journalism in Europe. We exist to help journalists work together to do better journalism, and we will continue to develop these possibilities in 2024.

Here are some of the things we are looking forward to this year.

Dataharvest 2024

We can’t wait to bring around 500 investigative and data journalists together again in Mechelen for Dataharvest, the European Investigative Journalism Conference on 30 May – 2 June 2024. The call for proposals is open until 15 January! Last year 525 journalists participated and more than 100 people were on a waiting list for tickets. We were sad to turn down many colleagues who wanted to contribute. But the venue has its limitations, and not least, we want Dataharvest to maintain its particular working spirit, which is not possible at a very large conference. So make sure you get your ticket.

Hosting the next Climate Arena Conference

We are creating new opportunities to bring people together, and in autumn this year we will host another Climate Arena Conference. This conference is very much like Dataharvest, but smaller and focusing on climate, energy and related environmental issues. This creates new meeting and collaboration possibilities, which was proven at the first conferences last year, beginning with a trial in Prague, then a full-scale 150 person conference in Vienna. Find out more about the Arena Climate Network to join the Signal group, and follow them on X to stay updated.

Developing Arena Networks

Between conferences, we will continue to develop the Arena Networks, our special combination of collaborative journalism infrastructure and competences composed of journalists who want to share and collaborate. One element of this infrastructure already established is the Arena Collaborative Desk, where collaborative journalism teams can use our open-source collaboration tools and get mentoring to find the right structure and work routines in a cross-border journalism team.

Supporting innovative cross-border collaborations

We will also continue to experiment with new formats for investigations, and we have a new proof-of-concept project on the way. We will build on our experience from earlier work, not least the recent Forever Pollution Project, where Arena helped scale the team from 5 to 13 countries. The project published a massive mapping of the family of chemicals called PFAS, which is widely used and can have severe health effects. The project was also innovative in the way it combined a large cross-border journalistic collaboration with a new type of very close collaboration between journalists and scientists, where scientists were involved to review journalists’ methodology and categories.

Supporting independent media through the Journalism Value Project

Another big job in 2024 will be the Journalism Value Project, carried out by the Reference Circle and Netzwerk Recherche. Reference is a noteworthy and encouraging collaborative project, where currently 26 independent media from across Europe join forces to help each other with non-editorial challenges, with the network supported and incubated by Arena. They are currently conducting a survey of European independent media – if you work for one, make sure your organisation completes the survey!

Journalism training through the Arena Academy

In 2024, we’ll also continue to develop Arena Academy and our fellowship models, where we bring together early and mid-career journalists who want to collaborate. Fellows work both with the Arena Climate Fellows programme and in collaboration with the Töpfer Foundation in the European Collaborative Journalism Programme (applications close today! 23:59 CET, Monday 8 January).

So, we have a lot of exciting plans for 2024! We want to continue developing collaborative journalism because we fundamentally believe that together we’re stronger. We look forward to supporting your collaborations in 2024.