Research group at imec & Vrije Universiteit Brussel

The Stars4media Exchange Programme for Media Professionals


Stars4Media is an exchange and training programme for young media professionals (“rising stars”), between cooperating media organisations, to accelerate media innovation and cross-border coverage in Europe.

The project has three objectives:

  1. Promote media innovation, along three axes: technological, marketing/business, and quality content production, with the aim to unleash new business models.
  2. Build new media partnerships and mobility across Europe, exchanging not only future leaders, but also sharing content, product ideas and new technological tools.
  3. Foster an environment conducive to quality journalism and media pluralism, supporting democracy versus online disinformation.

Challenges facing the media sector in Europe  

Stars4Media is responding to the needs identified by the #Media4EU research project. According to this analysis, media professionals often fail to communicate across “silos” (i.e. commercial, editorial, communication, social media, IT); but also, most importantly, they often fail to communicate across borders. In particular, within most traditional media, top management lacks the skills to lead fast changes across editorial and commercial boundaries. Moreover, most media companies do not have enough resources to set up their own skill-building exchange and innovation programmes.

As such, participants of this project will be young professionals (“rising stars”) with 2-10 years of media experience, coming from different fields (journalists, data journalists, graphic designers, tech developers, and managers for social media, products, marketing). This cuts across functional “silos” hindering new ideas, and speeds up media professionals’ careers.

This infographic also available in FR – DE – ES – PL – RO – IT – HR – HU

A solution to boost media innovation

Stars4Media will encourage innovation through skill-building activities between media outlets with a common interest. The process consists of three steps:

  1. Selection: following a pre-selection phase based on individual expressions of interest, media professionals are paired around innovative initiatives and benefit from training during the Stars4Media Lab event (30 March-1 April 2020) .
  2. Exchange – physical and virtual mobility: 4-12 weeks of joint concrete cooperation between paired media, involving both geographic and virtual mobility.
  3. Debrief and follow-up: top media summits to evaluate impact and award the best initiatives.

What is a “thematic wave”?

A thematic wave is an exchange round focused on a specific topic. Paired media organisations will test ideas, produce contents and develop initiatives around these topics:

  1. Constructive Journalism
  2. Fact-Checking
  3. Data-Journalism
  4. Artificial Intelligence and Translation technologies

These themes will be regrouped under two headings, “TRUST IN MEDIA” and “DATA FOR MEDIA“, both aimed at stimulating media innovation. Extra topics could be proposed, and they will be assessed by the ‘TRUST for media’ and ‘DATA for media’ independent juries.


This initiative was voted as a Pilot Project by the European Parliament into the 2018 and 2019 EU budgets (see the list of moral supports, including 15 MEPs and 13 media outlets).

About the Consortium

SMIT stands for Studies in Media, Innovation and Technology. SMIT is a research group part of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and IMEC. VUB’s SMIT is the consortium leader.

Fondation EURACTIV is a think-and-do tank for the health of the media sector in Europe. It contributes to a healthy democracy and the emergence of a European public sphere. Fondation EURACTIV is the initiator of the Stars4Media project.

WAN-IFRA, is the global organisation of the world’s press. It is a global network of 3,000 news publishing companies and technology entrepreneurs, 60 member publisher associations representing 18,000 publications in 120 countries.

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) is the largest organisation of journalists in Europe, representing over 320,000 journalists in 72 journalists’ organisations, across 45 countries.

This project is co-funded by the European Union (grant agreement number: LC-01337350).