From the Arena Housing Network to the European Cities investigative Journalism Accelerator

Local journalism in the cities of Europe

Affordable dorms for students, corporate landlords driving up rental costs and bullying tenants, freezing at christmas due to exploding energy prizes. Or indeed mapping, which cities have a growing young population, and which cities have ageing populations. These are just a few stories producded by the European Cities Investigative Journalism Accelerator, a collaboration of European media.

It all started with a track on local and housing journalism at the Dataharvest 2019. Out of that open network of competent journalists in the field of housing from across Europe, Jose Miguel Calatayud composed the Cities for Rent team and led it to publication in 2021 and to winning the European Press Prize in 2022. In an organic process, some of the team members who got to know and trust each other, decided to move on and develop the collaboration further.

They set up the European Cities investigative Journalism Accelerator, ECIJ, a network of urban media partners. Tagesspiegel Berlin coordinates the data research and visualisation, Arena for Journalism in Europe provides the secure document platform Arena Collaborative Desk as well as project coordination. Media parters are Deník Referendum from the Czech Republic, responsible for data analysis and further contacts in Central and Eastern Europe, ORF from Austria, Dublin Inquirer from Ireland, IRPI Media from Italy, Reporters United from Greece, Telex from Hungary, Gazeta Wyborcza from Poland, Mediapart from France, Helsingin Sanomat from Finland. All partners participate in research and publication.

Starting in the autumn of 2022, the team already has an impressive record of publications, which fall in two categories: Investigative and data. What unites them is the highly innovative new journalism where local and European are not only combined, they are inseparably intertwined. Who would not scroll in and out of a map that shows, in which regions of Europe populations are growing or dwindling? So many of us have moved or have relatives across the continent. And don’t we all know young people in the family who have difficulties to find student housing let alone affordable student housing? Below is a list of all the publications.

The European Cities investigative Journalism Accelerator is supported by the European innovation programme Stars4Media. Stars4Media is an EU-supported project run by a consortium consisting of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Europe’s Media Lab (Fondation EURACTIV), the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).

At Arena, we believe that journalists in the era of networked societies need to connect the local, even the hyperlocal with the European or even global. We are utterly proud to be part of this important development work.

Student housing investigation:

Apache, Belgium

The student housing industry flourishes in Europe, but makes the rooms (too) expensive: From Lisbon and Berlin to Warsaw and Brussels, commercial players are building more and more student complexes. At the same time, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find affordable housing in European student cities. A study in eight European countries shows the biggest players and the bottlenecks.

Denik Referendum, Czech Republic

Student residences: a billion-dollar business on the rise across Europe. From London to Prague. The volume of investment in private student housing is growing, but it’s not making it any easier for cities or students themselves. Data analysis shows where the most building is taking place and why.

Dublin Inquirer, Ireland

As Student-Housing Construction Slows, Government Mulls Plans to Step In.

Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland

Private dormitories are comfortable and expensive. Excellent from an investor’s point of view: A private dormitory, a tent or maybe a train station? Student homelessness is becoming a European problem. See how students in Europe live and how many expensive micro-apartments are being built for them.

Irpi, Italy

The student housing industry: In Europe, homes for off-campus students are becoming increasingly expensive. So much so that they jeopardise the right to study.

Bologna, where private student halls of residence dictate the law: They negotiate with the municipality for more space. They are full despite the fees. And their market is growing.

Bologna is not a city for students: Few houses, high rents. The private sector prefers short-term rentals; the public sector, clearly lagging behind, tries to stem the problem as best it can. Chronicle of an announced emergency.

Mediapart, France

Finance rushes into the student residence business: With student accommodation in short supply across Europe, billions of euros are pouring in from all over the world to develop private residences, particularly in France, with the promise of a profitable investment. On the other hand, the public sector only guarantees affordable housing to a tiny proportion of students. Example in Lyon.

Tagesspiegel, Germany

In these cities, the prices of flatshare rooms are rising particularly rapidly: Inflation and falling Corona numbers are driving up the prices of shared rooms much faster than those of normal flats. Exclusive data analyses show the exact development in the largest university cities.

Housing is most expensive in these university cities: Student stipend rates do not compensate for inflation. That is why the support group Studentenwerk is calling for a rapid increase. Yet many German university towns are already barely affordable. We show where a small flat costs almost 800 euros.

The business with students: From Madrid to Berlin to Warsaw: The construction of student residences is booming. Because living space in European metropolises is becoming increasingly scarce. Where a particularly large number of privately run student accommodation is being built – and what this means for cities.

100 years of bad management – a brief history of student housing: In the 1920s, there was also a housing shortage and inflation in Germany. Dormitories were supposed to relieve students and make studying possible for everyone. This has not worked until today. A search for traces.

Extreme rents, pretextual time limits? The tricks of private student hall of residence operators. They are tiny and cost up to 70 euros per square metre: Rooms in private student halls of residence in Berlin. Exceptions in the law allow the operators to make high returns and to set fixed-term contracts. How the business works in Berlin.

Map of student halls of residence in Berlin: From large to small, from luxurious to modest, from Mariendorf to Schönholz: We have collected Berlin’s student halls of residence on an interactive map.

Real estate investor on the housing market in big cities: “So many millennials can’t move out as boomers will move in”. Thomas Beyerle is a real estate analyst and professor. In an interview, he explains how to make money in real estate, what makes new construction so expensive and why investors love Berlin.

Telex, Hungary

The examples of London and Berlin show why the Budapest student city is urgently needed. Across Europe, finding affordable housing for university students is a growing challenge as demand and house prices rise. The housing crisis affecting Europe is covered in detail in this article. In our country, the Fudan University case has brought to the fore that the deepening housing crisis is also affecting students, as there are not enough dormitories and rents are increasingly unaffordable.

Mortgage traps

Dublin Inquirer, Ireland

Mortgage traps: Just 26 Homeowners in the City Approved for Scheme to Keep People Struggling with Mortgage Arrears in Their Homes Last Year.

Mapping: Where population grows, and where it dwindles

Aktuality, Slovakia

Where in Europe will the human population grow and which countries will continue to depopulate?

Apache, Belgium

How Europe’s population is growing and shrinking

Denik Referendum, Czech Republic

Which European regions are facing depopulation? And which are growing? According to UN forecasts, the world population has passed the eight billion mark. The number of those living in cities is growing globally. Where do European countries and cities stand?

ORF, Austria

How Europe’s population is evolving.

Tagesspiegel, Germany

Abandoned countryside, growing cities: Where Europe’s population is growing and where it is shrinking. The discussion about the growing world population mostly revolves around Asia and Africa. But how is the population actually developing in Europe? In some countries it is supposed to decrease by half. The regional differences are enormous.

Mapping: Energy crisis

Apache, Belgium

Spiking gas price stings across Europe

Denik Referendum, Czech Republic

The energy crisis: which European countries are most vulnerable? Energy poverty, until now a rather neglected problem, is becoming more urgent with rising gas and electricity prices. Data visualisations show in which countries and cities prices have risen the most and who the most vulnerable groups are.

Finland saved the most gas. The Czech Republic is below the European average. European countries pledged to save on gas consumption in the summer in response to the war in Ukraine. A data visualisation shows which countries have managed to reduce consumption over the past year.

Reporters United

Small old Europe in a crowded young world. Data research on population change in Europe over the past decade – which launches Reporters United’s new cross-border collaboration with the Tagesspiegel Innovation Lab and 13 other international media – highlights regional disparities that are of concern. The demographic outlook for Greece is bleak.

Telex, Hungary

Some European cities have seen gas prices rise by 268 percent in a year

Tagesspiegel, Germany

Energy crisis in Europe: These countries save the most gas so far. Europe must save gas – will it succeed? Current data show: Germany has not yet reached its goal. Other countries are doing better. (Update).

No warm Christmas: The gas crisis could further exacerbate the housing shortage in many cities. Even before the Russian invasion, many people were paying too much of their income for housing. Some cannot heat their homes. Rising gas prices could exacerbate this. In some cities they are rising especially.

Young population / demographics of cities              

Apache, Belgium

Young population mitigates Brussels urban exodus. The Brussels Region has a very young population compared to most other European capitals. In a quarter of a century, the capital region also went from being the oldest to the youngest in Belgium. Underlying this is international migration and a continuous influx of students. However, the urban exodus to the periphery continues to increase.

Denik Referendum, Czech Republic

Magnet for young people: which European cities attract them and why? Data visualisations show which European capitals are home to the most people under thirty-five. And where the number of young people is declining or increasing everywhere.

Dublin Inquirer, Ireland

In Darndale, Locals Point to Ways to Make Village Centre More Accessible for Older People

Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland

All roads no longer lead to Rome. Which capital cities attract the young? Europe’s capitals are an attractive destination for young people who want to start studies, but also for professionals who move there with their families. Although they all have above-average populations, their age structure differs considerably.

Tagesspiegel, Germany

Demographic change: These capitals are getting younger, these are ageing. Young people are increasingly migrating to the metropolises. But while London and Copenhagen are getting younger, other capitals are struggling with ageing. Berlin is a rare in-between case. A Europe-wide data analysis.

Telex, Hungary

Demographic data show ugly trends, with some parts of the country heading towards depopulation


Tagesspiegel, Germany

Childcare in European capitals compared: How differently children are cared for. At three months, from one, from three? The type of childcare offered in Europe’s capitals differs greatly in some cases. There are also completely different approaches in terms of capacities and costs. An analysis.