About the network
Reference is a self-organised network of independent European news publishers, building the future of public interest media together.
Its media organisations rose to fill the gap left where commercial news organisations retreated from producing public interest journalism and public service media failed to retain their audiences. Now, the network represents a new vision for journalism in Europe, developing sustainable business models and approaches which ensure they publish and operate in the public interest.
But their new organisations and approaches bring new challenges, and they know they need to work together to address shared organisational and business challenges. To do this, over 25 European independent media organisations have joined forces in the self-organised network Reference, the European Independent Media Circle.
The vision: A sustainable independent media sector that has an established presence in Europe. They believe in well-functioning democracies in Europe, made up of well-informed citizens. The multiple challenges of our societies can only be met with fiercely independent and financially sustainable journalism. The network underwrites a collaborative approach to empowerment and believes that together, they can make a lasting difference that can’t be ignored.
The mission: Reference collectively solves those problems nobody can solve alone.
Their ultimate goal is to develop the independent media sector into an established presence in Europe. They aim to accelerate each other’s growth into mature and stable organisations, and to raise awareness within civil society and governments about how to support our sector.
The approach: They focus on non-editorial issues, supporting each other to address organisational and business challenges. Through constant exchanges and yearly meet-ups, they exchange advice, share experience and expertise in a knowledge hub, and work on key organisational challenges together in a trusted space.
They aim to demonstrate the collective impact benefitting both the media sector and society. They advocate for the wellbeing of independent, public interest media – financially, legally, and morally.
The inclusive network brings together a diverse range of public-interest media organisations from all over Europe. Members are active in print media, audiovisual media and digital platforms. The network welcomes both for- and non-profit media, hyperlocals and media who specialise in investigative journalism. Most of the members are pioneers, and among the first movers in their respective countries. Reference recognises that our media environments hold different opportunities, challenges and threats, across the continent, but the network also sees overlap and major opportunities to work together.
The 26 members meet in-person twice a year to exchange experiences, skills and insights.
They have embarked on a major project to support independent media in Europe to become more financially viable. The Journalism Value Project aims to understand what’s working for independent media, what’s not, share these insights, and based on this, advocate for more support where we need it.
This is a two year project running until 2025, beginning with the most in-depth survey to-date about the state of independent media coordinated by Netzwerk Recherche. The insights from the survey will directly inform the other parts of the project, coordinated by and involving all members of the Reference network of independent media organisations.
They will also produce 26 interviews with members of Reference to go in-depth on key issues for the sustainability of independent media, and share their biggest lessons learned.
They will also coordinate 26 visits between the members to support each other with concrete business challenges, avoiding reinventing the wheel and building a model for non-editorial collaboration between newsrooms.
Building on all of this, they will publish a whitepaper and host events to engage funders, politicians, and civil society stakeholders in the value of independent media, and how they can better support this sector, and therefore a viable, pluralistic, vibrant independent journalism ecosystem in Europe.
Name: Lucas Batt
Size: 20 - 50 members
Geographical focus: European
Type of members: Media outlets
Legal entity: Yes
Open to new members: No
- Organized crime
- Politics / policy / democracy
- Social issues
- Czech Republic
- United Kingdom
- Community outreach / audience development
- Data analysis / vizualisation
- Digital formats / multimedia production / interactive journalism
- Editorial support / project management
- Event organisation
- Investigative journalism
- Multilingual journalism
- Social media / marketing
Support/join our network
- Collaborate on grant applications
- Exchange know-how/trainings
- Join as new members