The media business is having a tough time. Newsrooms are closing, staff sizes are shrinking (even in social-first examples like Buzzfeed, HuffPo and Vice) and tech giants are hoovering up the promoting income that when went to fund unique journalism. Public belief in journalism additionally stays low.
Regardless of that, we’re seeing a brand new wave of digital media startups making an attempt to do journalism in another way, making an attempt to unravel core points with the business by filling a distinct segment in reporting, constructing a dedicated membership base or partaking the general public with outreach programmes.
From Bellingcat to We Are Europe, right here we check out the perfect European media startups. To qualify for the listing, the shops needed to be launched after 2010, editorially unbiased and digital-first; producing unique content material that disrupts their space of protection or the media panorama as a complete.
We didn’t put ourselves on the listing, however we at Sifted are additionally an unbiased digital-first new media startup!
Net site visitors stats for February 2021 are taken from SimilarWeb, and funding info from our knowledge companion Dealroom — or from the media startups themselves.
Based and edited by Eliot Higgins, the Netherlands-based investigative outlet has finished nothing wanting redefined fashionable investigative journalism. It deploys open-source investigative (OSINT) instruments and infrequently calls upon a dedicated group of citizen journalists by way of its social media channels — although its core, full-time staff makes 20 folks.
Bellingcat makes use of quite a lot of methods, together with reverse picture searches and satellite tv for pc imaging in an effort to geolocate proof pertinent to ongoing investigations — any crowdsourced suggestions undergo a step-by-step verification course of.
Higgins sits on the expertise advisory board within the Hague’s Worldwide Legal Court docket; has simply launched ‘We’re Bellingcat’, a e-book on its journey to date; and phrase on the road is the outlet is creating its personal movie unit.
Crew: 20 employees, plus volunteers
Founder and editor: Eliot Higgins
Month-to-month readership: 800k
Funding: based utilizing Kickstarter and has used crowdfunding since; recipient of Nationwide Endowment for Democracy and Open Society Basis grants.
Bywire covers blockchain applied sciences all over the world, and this week it launches its new web site. It’s maybe one of the vital uncommon publications on this listing as a result of all of its printed content material has been positioned on the EOS blockchain community. Which means all articles have a report on the blockchain that particulars when it was created, by whom and if any revisions have been made since publication.
Doing so provides Bywire or its readers a stronger skill to carry to account the contributors or editors answerable for a chunk: its revisions and inaccuracies. The positioning even states that contributors “who fall wanting our requirements could be warned, sanctioned or faraway from the community.”
Bywire advised Sifted that this technique as soon as deployed “will finally assist to finish censorship from tyrannical governments and hostile firms, and can ship creator accountability and knowledge possession immutability.”
Founders: Michael O’Sullivan and Thomas Barlow
Editor in chief: Michael O’Sullivan
Month-to-month readership: roughly 50k
Funding: bootstrapped apart from angel funding from two eToro buyers O’Sullivan met on the platform
Correctiv claims to be the primary donation-funded investigative centre in Germany. It covers all kinds of areas, from corruption, political extremism and tax abuse; to actual property, well being and local weather change. It’s acquired greater than 30 prizes, together with the Grimme On-line Award which is among the most prestigious in Europe.
Founder David Schraven, tells Sifted: “Our journalism focuses on society. This can be a large distinction to classical media. We don’t work for a particular goal group – however for a larger good and the society as a complete. We unveil the knowledge folks have to empower themselves.”
HQ: Essen, with newsroom in Berlin
Founder: David Schraven
CEO: Simon Kretschmer
Editors in chief: Olaya Argüeso and Justus von Daniels
Month-to-month readership: 1.3m
Funding: CORRECTIV has acquired funding from quite a lot of associations and over 10k personal donors, from the Rudolf Augstein Basis to Google’s Digital Information Initiative.
Dublin-based The Forex focuses on enterprise, finance, economics and public coverage — producing incisive investigations into the sectors. That features something from evaluation of how multinationals use offshore havens to handle tax to telling the tales of massively highly effective figures.
“The Forex provides its members an edge in enterprise,” says Tom Lyons, cofounder and editor. “Our overarching philosophy is to create a platform for high quality journalism; journalism that’s fearless, targeted, and at all times fascinating.”
Crew: 8 full-time employees
Founders: Tom Lyons and Ian Kehoe
Editor in chief: Ian Kehoe
Month-to-month readership: not disclosed, 4.5k paying members
Funding: subscriber income, supported by Eire’s Structural and Funding Funds programmes; Native Enterprise workplace and the EU Regional Growth Fund
Whereas protecting the fascinating facets of industries, from startups to schooling, journey and structure, Ptáček tells Sifted, can be making an attempt “to disrupt the Czech media business.” As its title suggests, the startup’s aiming to be the TechCrunch of the Czech Republic, which at the moment boasts corporations like Twisto, ResistantAI and MagicLab.
How’s it doing that? By partaking instantly with its reader base. Alongside its personal podcast, CzechCrunch Shine is its schooling platform and CzechCrunch Jobs its jobs web site for the area.
Founders: Michal Ptáček and Vaclav Bedrich
Editor in chief: Ondřej Holzman
Month-to-month readership: 488k
Funding: “CzechCrunch is totally self-sustaining.”
De Correspondent covers local weather change, privateness, inequality, healthcare and politics. Free from advertisements, the platform focuses on in-depth, chronological protection which is led by its correspondents — every of whom concentrate on a selected matter. It now boasts 72k paying members.
After its ill-fated English language sister organisation The Correspondent closed down in December 2020, De Correspondent grew to become a brand new residence for a few of its employees.
Cofounders: Rob Wijnberg, Harald Dunnink, Sebastian Kersten and Ernst-Jan Pfauth
Editors in chief: Rosan Smits and Rob Wijnberg
Month-to-month readership: 606k
Funding: based mostly on 2019 knowledge, the startup is 98.3% reader or member funded, (54% membership income) with the remaining 1.7% from grants
Cofounder and editor Paul Ostwald was included in Forbes’ 30 underneath 30 listing in 2020 with a imaginative and prescient of a “Europe united in variety.” Discussion board is structured round 5 or so themes — however as you may anticipate, it’s centred round debate. Taking inspiration from Reddit’s upvote-downvote system, the Discussion board platform picks out the ‘Most Contested’ of their output.
Readers may entry articles in six languages — both sourced from different publications (most not too long ago the New York Occasions made an settlement with Discussion board) or unique op-eds.
Ostwald advised Sifted he’s optimistic about Europe’s media startup business, although it’s “usually neglected.”
“I believe that’s a disgrace each from an financial and a social perspective,” he provides. “Apart from Discussion board.eu, many initiatives drive innovation within the methods tales are advised, and the underlying enterprise circumstances present that the business nonetheless has big potential to develop.”
Founders: Paul Ostwald, Nikolaus von Taysen, Valentin von Albrecht, Jonas Bedform-Strohm
Editor in chief: Paul Ostwald
Month-to-month readership: undisclosed
Funding: in seed spherical, financed by VC agency Bonum
- The primary Discussion board items have been contributed by John Bolton, Trump’s former safety advisor and German vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel — each regarding whether or not the EU ought to have a European military
Telling the tales of individuals of color from marginalised genders
Arrange by Liv Little in her final yr of college, gal-dem has not solely produced persistently incisive evaluation on present political and cultural occasions, it’s scrupulously known as out the media business itself for its failure to advertise the voices of individuals of color and advance their careers.
Whereas it cultivates essential perception into what the media business ought to and shouldn’t be, the startup is cultivating a younger staff of journalists who’re positive to have fascinating careers forward of them.
In 2019, it launched ‘I Will Not Be Erased’, an anthology of non-public experiences rising up as folks of color written by present and former contributors. By any measure, gal-dem is proving disruptive media could be financially profitable too: it’s reportedly worthwhile, and earlier than Covid-19 the publication had deliberate to launch within the US.
Founder: Liv Little
Editor in chief: Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff
Month-to-month readership: 581k
Funding: angel funding, partnerships (together with with Glossier, Penguin and Ace & Tate) publication subscriptions and print income
Gotham Metropolis is a web based platform and paid publication that operates in Lausanne, the house of Switzerland’s Supreme Court docket. It’s completely targeted on circumstances of corruption, fraud and cash laundering, principally protecting Switzerland and France — with an purpose “to extend transparency within the court docket rulings of one of many world’s most essential conduits of monetary crime,” based on founder François Pilet.
“Though the court docket choices we’re reporting about are legally accessible to the media, they’re usually arduous to entry. Normally, we’re required to go to the courts in individual to learn them in full.” It publishes a few of these on its web site.
Regardless of its small staff, Gotham Metropolis’s output is spectacular — and in monitoring all white-collar crime circumstances submitted to Switzerland’s three federal courts, in addition to key authorities monetary and legal workplaces, it has emerged as a key useful resource for these eager about international financial crimes.
Founders and editors: Marie Maurisse and François Pilet
Month-to-month readership: 1k paying readers, 10k readers of free publication
Funding: solely by subscribers
Krautreporter is a key success story in ad-free journalism in Europe. Earlier than its launch, it raised €1m from 17k helps and stays Germany’s largest crowdfunded journalism challenge.
Very early on, the startup launched a cooperative mannequin — not solely permitting readers to personal a part of Krautreporter, however share their very own areas of experience — making a extremely engaged community of sources. Now it’s Krautreporter coverage to test with its reader database earlier than any reporter begins work on a brand new story.
Founder: Sebastian Esser
Editor in chief: Alexander von Streit
Month-to-month readership: 252k
Funding: crowdfunding, membership income and a grant from the Engaged Journalism Accelerator
- A data piece on how German arms exports relate to its objectives of European integration
- A superb crowdsourced recommendation column, the newest of which explains how one can have higher conversations
Labiotech.eu has made its mark on biotech in Europe — maybe as a result of it is aware of the business inside and outside. It was based by two biotech engineers to fill the hole in protection of the realm, and its readership base consists of medical professionals at each degree.
It’s purpose? Be the TechCrunch for biotech. It’s actually not far off.
Founder and managing director: Joachim Eeckhout and Philip Hemme
Core editorial staff: Clara Rodríguez and Jonathan Smith
Month-to-month readership: 164k
Funding: undisclosed quantity in 2017 seed spherical that included Willie AG, Indiana Capital, JOT-Berlin, Induskia, WestTech Ventures and others. Its first funding got here from WestTech Ventures’ accelerator Undertaking Flying Elephant in 2016.
- Jonathan Smith took a deep dive into how biotechs have confronted a wave of cyberattacks triggered by Covid-19 and the fast digitisation of healthcare
- Has been nominated a number of instances for ‘Commentator of the 12 months’ on the European Mediscience Awards
Maddyness’ modern, specialised protection of entrepreneurship and innovation within the UK and France is now effectively and actually a multimedia enterprise.
It boasts Maddyplay, the primary video-on-demand platform within the space; MaddyKeynote, its model of Ted Talks for key gamers; VOICE, its podcast and its e-book BackPack — a information for entrepreneurs that’s bought over 15k copies. It has additionally collaborated with youth-led crowdsourced environmental media startup Ours to Save.
Founders: Louis Carle and Etienne Portais
Editors in chief: Anais Richardin
Month-to-month readership: 400k
Funding: based on Dealroom, the startup is bootstrapped
Really useful to us on Twitter, Manchester Mill covers Higher Manchester (with a inhabitants of 3m) via a each day briefing that drops in your electronic mail inbox moderately than the doorstep. But it surely’s simply as homegrown as an area paperboy. The staff consists of founder and editor Joshi Herrmann, in addition to trainee reporter and photographer Dani Cole.
“I began The Mill as a little bit of a side-project in the course of the first lockdown,” Herrmann says, “however the response was a lot larger than I anticipated”. Throughout Manchester, The Mill is understood for indepth tales about native points and now has a devoted 25k reader base.
“There appears to be a craving for high-quality journalism that treats tales thoughtfully moderately than churning out low high quality content material for the advert mannequin, and individuals are displaying that they’re prepared to pay for it.”
Crew: 2, not together with freelance contributors
Founder and editor: Joshi Herrmann
Month-to-month readership: 25k
Funding: 800 paying subscribers, in any other case no funding to date
Notes From Poland
Notes from Poland began as a private weblog by Stanley Invoice, head of the Polish research programme on the College of Cambridge. Daniel Tilles, an assistant professor at Pedagogical College of Kraków, would be a part of the weblog quickly after and assist develop its social media presence — now its Twitter has 27k followers.
Each of British origin, their purpose was to offer an English-language useful resource for these additionally eager about Polish present affairs. The startup crammed a considerable hole out there for broad and dependable journalism, not solely in Poland, however within the worldwide media panorama which persistently underreports on the nation — which in 2020 fell to its lowest ever place within the World Press Freedom Index.
Founder: Stanley Invoice
Editor in chief: Daniel Tilles
Month-to-month readership: 211k
Funding: crowdfunding marketing campaign in 2019 to boost for a brand new web site, adopted by reader donations and grants, together with from Nationwide Endowment for Democracy
- In March 2020, Maria Wilczek coated the British retailer Tesco’s presence in Poland which has operated within the nation since 1995 and is now retreating as a consequence of quite a lot of fascinating exterior components
- Agnieszka Wądołowska unpicked the that means behind the various symbols utilized in abortion rights protests, believed to be the most important within the nation because the fall of communism in 1989
- A terrific cartographic knowledge piece on the cultural and non secular variety in Poland based mostly on one survey query: who brings Polish kids presents on Christmas Eve?
Reportedly modelled after De Correspondent, Republik additionally has a membership-only mannequin whereas emphasising long-form content material and investigations. However its strategy to the connection between journalists and readers, whom they name ‘publishers’, is distinct.
Its mother or father firm is Undertaking R, a cooperative challenge of which paying readers grow to be members (there are 20k) and may take part in editorial and operational choices. The mannequin has undoubtedly paid off — the web journal holds the report for crowdfunding in Switzerland, elevating 750k Swiss francs in its first seven hours.
Oddly sufficient, it additionally has a podcast known as Klang that explores classical music and opera.
Founder: Nadja Schnetzler, Clara Vuillemin and Richard Hoechner
CEO: Susanne Sugimoto
Editor in chief: Oliver Fuchs
Month-to-month readership: 816k
Primarily based in and targeted on Malta, The Shift claims its the one outlet within the nation that “refuses to take funding or promoting from the federal government or political events.” Such a dedication is essential within the nation, which locations 81st out of 180 on the World Press Freedom Index.
It’s not giving into fast-paced media cycles, both, publishing between one to a few articles a day with an emphasis on investigative journalism.
Founder and editor Caroline Muscat gained the Reporters With out Borders award for Independence in 2019 — an achievement acknowledged by the media business worldwide. PEN Worldwide Scotland stated Muscat was “an important, needed, and dedicated voice for accountability, justice and democracy when it’s wanted most in Malta.”
Founder and editor in chief: Caroline Muscat
Month-to-month readership: 284k
Funding: 55% grants, 31% reader contributions and 13% fundraising occasions
Solomon’s focus is on migration and refugees — however this ends in dedicated protection of quite a lot of associated subjects, from the gentrifying influence of Airbnb in Berlin to the Greek local weather college strikes. Its platform accommodates datasets on the influence of Australia’s big wildfires and fascinating photosets of refugee camps throughout Europe. Managing director and editor Iliana Papageli advised Sifted that its community-based strategy is distinct from the usual approach of reporting on migration.
Its reporters, editor in chief Iliana Papangeli says, not solely hearken to migrant and refugee communities, however acknowledge “the company these folks need to form and resolve on their very own tales and the way in which these tales are being advised. We don’t write about them. We produce tales with them.”
Founder: Fanis Kollias
Editor in chief: Iliana Papangeli
Month-to-month readership: 4.5k
Funding: Solomon was the primary Greek media challenge on Kickstarter, the place it has raised €12k. It has additionally acquired €423k in grants from personal foundations just like the Rosa Luxemburg Basis and Bosch Alumni Community.
Certain, Tortoise is all about ‘gradual information’, however its launch in 2019 was one of many quickest and most profitable on this listing. No marvel — editor James Harding was formally the pinnacle of reports on the BBC whereas fellow cofounders Katie Vanneck-Smith and Matthew Barzun have been president of the info firm Dow Jones and US ambassador in London, respectively.
As an alternative of the standard newsroom format, the startup covers 5 pillars it believes are driving change: ‘the 100 yr life’, ‘wealth’, ‘belonging’, ‘our planet’ and ‘new issues’.
Founders: James Harding, Katie Vanneck-Smith, Matthew Barzun
Editor in chief: James Harding
Month-to-month readership: 105k
Funding: its Kickstarter marketing campaign raised a whopping £540k in 2018, however now its income is pushed from its important paid membership base of 90k.
The startup gained two British Journalism Awards in 2019: Innovation of the 12 months for its open editorial conferences:
- Innovation of the 12 months for its open editorial conferences known as ‘ThinkIns’
- New Journalist of the 12 months awarded to Paul Caruana Galizia for his four-part podcast, ‘My Mom’s Homicide’, on the assassination of his mom and investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia
We Are Europe
We Are Europe’s clear web site and cross-border journalism is making an attempt to bringing collectively an more and more politically fragmented continent.
As cofounder Mick ter Reehorst advised Sifted, “There may be simply no actually European media, and the continent is in dire want of it. For too lengthy, Europe remains to be portrayed via a nationwide lens.” It’s aiming to publish underrepresented, even stunning “multimedia tales that transcend borders, Brexit and breaking information.”
Presumably because of the financial fallout of Covid-19, We Are Europe diminished its staff from fourteen to 5 core freelancers in 2020 — although it nonetheless boasts a 750-strong ‘collective’ of native freelancers throughout Europe.
Kyrill Hartog added: “the challenges of the longer term transcend nationwide borders and but journalism pretends they don’t. What good are the UK’s inexperienced insurance policies if Germany continues to burn low-cost Chinese language coal? The air we breathe doesn’t care about Brexit — it gained’t cease on the border.”
Crew: 5 core freelancers
Founders: Mick ter Reehorst, Kyrill Hartog, Ties Gijzel, Marije Martens
Editors in chief: Kyrill Hartog, Mick ter Reehorst
Month-to-month readership: 25k
Funding: annual income of €800k, its income stream from bodily copies of its journal, its recently-launched membership mannequin and grants from Stimuleringsfonds voor de Journalistiek Accelerator (€80k) and the Adessium Basis (€150k).
- This multimedia story on Moldova explores the state of democracy within the nation and younger activists, which acquired 100k reads and gained the European Press Prize in 2019
- One other on the expertise of LGBTQ+ folks dwelling in Poland
- Its particular challenge on colonialism, protecting the current removing of statues within the UK and the youth independence motion in Greenland
- And ‘The Silver Lining’, a difficulty all about solidarity throughout Covid-19 that was partly funded by $5k protection grant from Options Journalism Community
Different mediatechs we like (and didn’t fairly match our standards)
- Brut, which compiles the perfect video content material from throughout the web
- Curio, an audio-only app that narrates exterior reporting
- Protos Media, each day podcast on cryptocurrency
- Decrypt, a blockchain-focused publication
- FrenchWeb, a fantastic useful resource on French enterprise
VC funds targeted on media
- Supernode World
- EU funded programme MediaMotorEurope
- Startupbootcamp Media Amsterdam
- Media Lab Bayern
- Engaged Journalism Accelerator
Isabella Pojuner is Sifted’s editorial intern. She tweets from @ipojuner