Multi-annual plan & looking ahead to 2019

Our Multi-annual Strategy Paper 2018-2022 states how we want to grow and expand our influence in the coming years. We do not need tens of thousands of millions for that, because our strength is that we can achieve a great deal with a limited budget for media organisations. However, if we also wish to defend the right to information in Europe, do more internationally to increase the safety of journalists and want to become a more influential knowledge organisation, we need more financial leeway.

We have set out the general outlines in this multi-annual document and based on this, we will draw up a concrete action plan every year. Because we do not define our activities for four years ahead, we can continue to respond to current developments. That flexibility is reflected in our organisation, which is, to use buzzword, agile. We put people from different projects and support departments together to develop new programmes or exchange ideas that emerge from our Free Press Unlimited days. Those multidisciplinary task groups appear to be an enrichment for our future plans.

Knowledge and research

An important element of our future plan is to gather more knowledge and do research. We want to make the best possible choices and outline our strategies in a well-founded way. How do we improve the conditions in which independent media operate, how do we help them properly fulfil their watchdog role and what can we do to guarantee their independent future? In 2018, the Knowledge & Quality team carried out a lot of preparatory work for our research into effective business models for independent media. In 2019, we will collect the case studies of small to mid-sized media that have developed their own business model in very different circumstances.

We already mentioned the ambitious research agenda that came out of the No News Is Bad News Midterm Review. Since other Free Press Unlimited programmes are facing strategic choices for which they desperately need the knowledge and analyses of our Knowledge & Quality team, it is logical that we will be expanding this team further in 2019. We are increasingly engaging in knowledge gathering, slowly but surely, so that everyone within the organisation can keep up with the changes. And especially so that the knowledge and expertise that we collect is shared, deepened and optimally deployed.

International developments

In 2019, we will continue with our successful policy influencing at international level, for the protection of journalists and the connection to local organisations. For example, we are trying to arrange a meeting in New York in September, when world leaders will be evaluating the Sustainable Development Agenda there. Free Press Unlimited advocates for an entry in the final declaration, which underlines the importance and the feasibility of access to information.

In view of the worrying developments in Europe, in 2018, Free Press Unlimited, among other things, thoroughly investigated the need and possibility to become active again in the Balkans. It became clear that many of our former partners must, once again, work under difficult conditions: there is little room for criticism or contradiction, and intimidation of and violence against journalists have strongly increased. Moreover, partly due to the emergence of social media, it is becoming increasingly difficult for media in this region to reach and keep their audience. These are just a couple of areas where our partners in the Balkans are in desperate need of our support. Free Press Unlimited is therefore returning to this region as soon as we have arranged funding. Once we have taken that step, expanding to the Visegrad countries (Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic) is a logical and realistic option.