The virtual SciCon series 2.0

Antje Sirleschtov, Nicola Kuhrt, Sebastian Esser: Towards New Shores: Table.Media & Blaupause
(17 May 2023, 16:00 CEST)

Moderation: Alexander Mäder

**Please note that this lecture is held in German**

Newsletters and briefings have become an important tool for decision-makers to gather information and form opinions – and they are shaking up journalism. In this session, we’ll take a look at two of the most exciting journalistic innovation projects: “Table.Media – For better informed decisions.” The digital publishing house in Berlin specializes in professional briefings: Federal Policy, China, EU Regulation, ESG, Climate, Security, Education, Research, Africa, 100Headlines. Table.Media aims to offer “deep journalism” and combine the quality standards of leading media with the in-depth focus of specialist information.

For this session, we invited Editor-in-Chief Antje Sirleschtov and Nicola Kuhrt as Editorial Director Research.Table to tell us about their editorial approach and start-up strategy: How did the team strategically develop the idea, where do they want to position themselves in the journalistic market? How important are marketing and community building for the project, which financing model did the team choose? And: What did they learn during the start-up phase?

We are also looking forward to meeting journalist and entrepreneur Sebastian Esser, with whom we want to shed light on the role that briefings & newsletters play for quality journalism in the digital age: How will the market for journalistic newsletters develop? What opportunities does the format offer for authors? Sebastian Esser will also present his newsletter Blaupause – a guide for journalists and creators who build communities and offer memberships.

As Editor-in-Chief, Antje Sirleschtov is responsible for all Table.Media Professional Briefings. In the past, she worked at Tagesspiegel as head of the capital city bureau, the business editorial department and finally as managing editor. Sirleschtov developed journalistic professional newsletters at Tagesspiegel and continues this work with Table.Media Professional Briefings.

Science journalist Nicola Kuhrt is editorial director of Research.Table. She worked for many years as a freelance journalist, including for Süddeutsche Zeitung, ZEIT, STERN and Brand eins. From 2012 to 2015, she was editor and deputy head of the “Knowledge” department at SPIEGEL ONLINE. She was “Science Journalist of the Year” and winner of the Peter Hans Hofschneider Award and the Best Cancer Reporter Award, among others. Four years ago, she founded the nonprofit magazine MedWatch, which features evidence-based reporting and debunks fake news. 

Sebastian Esser is co-founder of “Krautreporter” and the online payment platform Steady. He was editor-in-chief of the media magazine V.i.S.d.P. and politics editor at the German Vanity Fair. In 2012, he co-founded the crowdfunding platform Krautreporter, followed by the online magazine in 2014. In 2016, Esser launched Steady, a funding portal for independent media. In 2022, he launched his newsletter Blaupause, which aims to help founders make newsletters, websites and podcasts more successful.


Florencia Coelho, Christina Elmer und Patricia Ventura Pocino: AI – the journalist’s friend or foe? (4 May 2023, 15.00 CEST)

Moderation: Alexander Mäder


AI has long since established itself in the media. In this SciCon session, we want to take a closer look at the opportunities and dangers of AI in (science) journalism: What role does AI already play? What influence does it have on reporting and journalistic formats? What challenges does it pose in dealing with ethical issues? And what does AI mean not only for the future of journalism, but beyond that for our democratic order? Three experts from Argentina, Germany and Spain present their perspectives on this wide-ranging set of topics.

Flor(encia) Coelho works for the data team and Proyecto Naturaleza at La Nación, Buenos Aires, Argentina. She was originally a commercial lawyer but her first encounter with the internet in the mid-1990s sparked her interest in digital media. She became a researcher, developing new tools and blogging. Having freelanced for La Nación as a new media consultant and trainer, she was hired in 2008 for its Research & Development in New Media Department. During a JSK journalism fellowship at Stanford in 2019, she focused on the opportunities for journalism inherent in the Artificial Intelligence ecosystem.

Christina Elmer is Professor of Digital Journalism and Data Journalism at TU Dortmund University, Germany. She was previously deputy head of editorial development at DER SPIEGEL, where she co-managed the relaunch of the digital platform and established the data journalism department. During a research sabbatical in 2021, she investigated the explainability of AI methods as the first Journalist in Residence at Europe’s largest AI research consortium, the Cyber Valley research network.

Patrícia Ventura holds a PhD in Media, Communication and Culture from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), Spain, where she is an associate professor. Her research focuses in particular on the ethical issues associated with artificial intelligence and on the regulation of algorithms in favour of democratic societies. She is the author, amongst others, of the report Algorithms in the Newsrooms: Challenges and recommendations to equip artificial intelligence with the ethical values ​​of journalism, which was published by the Catalan Information Council (CIC) in 2021.


Rasmus Kleis Nielsen: Monetisation Options for Journalism in the Digital Age (15 March 2023, 3pm CET)

Moderation: Christopher Buschow

The crisis in journalism’s business model calls for new approaches. In this SciCon 2.0 session, the director of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, will present possible answers to big questions: In a digitally revolutionised and pluralised media environment, what potential do market-based or other viable monetisation options hold for journalism? What new, innovative business and payment models could be economically sustainable? Can community building play a role in creating new and self-sustaining media titles? What sort of chance do non-profit journalism concepts have? And, last but not least, under what conditions can state and civil society actors take on an active role in promoting media and transformation?

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen is Director of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism and Professor of Political Communication at the University of Oxford. He was previously Director of Research at the Reuters Institute and Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Press/Politics.

His work focuses on changes in the news media, on political communication, and the role of digital technologies in both fields. He is the author of a number of seminal books and has done extensive research on journalism, American politics, and various forms of activism as well as a significant amount of comparative work in Western Europe and beyond.


Sarah Stonbely, Steve Waldman and Jason Gibbins: Reviving News Deserts. Three examples of how to use public money to promote structural change in local/regional journalism (2 March 2023, 4pm CET)

Moderation: Christina Sartori


The crisis in the journalistic business model is hitting local and regional media particularly hard. In the United States, the issue is discussed under the heading of “news deserts”, i.e., the increasing number of regions in which there is no longer any independent local journalism. In the third SciCon 2.0 session, we look at projects that have developed creative ideas to try and combat this problematic development. Sarah Stonbely (Tow Center for Digital Journalism) will present the Civic Information Consortium; Steve Waldman the Rebuild Local News Coalition – two initiatives that aim to promote a new information biotope for regional communities. The current head of the BBC’s Local News Partnerships, Jason Gibbins, will talk about this project which uses public service broadcasting fees to enable journalistic research with a regional focus. Can these examples also be used to facilitate regional science journalism?

Sarah Stonbely is the research director at the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University. She received her doctorate in political communication, media sociology, and journalism studies from NYU and was a postdoc in the School of Media + Public Affairs at Georg Washington University. Sarah’s expertise is in media sociology, local news ecosystems, and research methodology.

Steve Waldman is the founder and president of Rebuild Local News. He is also the co-founder and former president of Report for America, a national service programme that places journalists in newsrooms across America. Before becoming an advocate for local journalism, Waldman was a journalist covering national politics for Newsweek, U.S. News and World Reports and Washington Monthly. Later, he wrote a report for the Federal Communications Commission, outlining the information needs of communities.

Jason Gibbins is a multi-media editor and journalist who was appointed Assistant Editor for the BBC Local News Partnerships in 2017. Prior to joining BBC News Online, he was an editor responsible for all print, online and social media output for a range of local newspapers and websites. He has also worked for titles including the Northampton Chronicle & Echo, Coventry Telegraph and, on a freelance basis, the Mail on Sunday and Sunday Express.


Jeremy Caplan: Beyond Disruption: Journalism in the Digital Age
(1 February 2023, 3.00 pm CET)

Moderator: Anja Noster, Bauhaus University Weimar

Jeremy Caplan

The second lecture in the new series will be held by Jeremy Caplan (, Director of Teaching and Learning at CUNY’s Newmark Graduate School of Journalism in New York City. He is helping to train a new generation of journalists and to develop impactful new projects with journalists around the world. Jeremy leads the school’s new Entrepreneurial Journalism Creators Program, a 100-day online curriculum that since the start of the pandemic has helped more than 100 journalists from 37 countries start up new niche ventures.

Jeremy Caplan’s lecture will address the structural change in journalism and its impact on the journalistic infrastructure. He is going to explore what journalism will look like in the future – beyond disruption: Will there still be publishers and broadcasters? Is there still a market for journalism, what skills do journalists need for it? How deep will the gap become between platforms that produce publicity (e.g. YouTube as a new structure) and the people who produce content? Will journalism only be able to function as “Entrepreneurial Journalism” – or do we need to think about other forms of journalism?

As a reporter at Time Magazine, Jeremy wrote hundreds of stories on subjects ranging from digital innovation to the nuances of low-wage work. Having studied at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, he earned an MS in Journalism as a Knight-Bagehot Fellow at Columbia University and an MBA at Columbia Business School as a Wiegers Fellow. These days Jeremy writes Wonder Tools, a newsletter highlighting the sites and apps that make life a little easier for people who work on screens all day. In a prior career, Jeremy was a violinist and concertmaster of the International Symphony Orchestra in Jerusalem.


Nikki Usher: Who gets to know and how: News for the Rich, White, and Blue?
(16 January 2023, 5.30 pm CET)

Moderator: Prof. Christopher Buschow, Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

The first lecture in the new series Science Communication in the Digital Age, SciCon 2.0, will be held by Nikki Usher, they/them (, associate professor in communication studies at the University of San Diego. Their research addresses the intersection of new technology, politics, and the news media with a particular focus on how power, inequality, and economics impact our news and information environment.

Nikki Usher’s most recent book, News for the Rich, White, and Blue, the result of ten years’ field research, was published in 2021. In it they explore how journalists decide what becomes news and how news organizations strategize about the future. “News for the Rich, White, and Blue concludes with a series of provocative recommendations to reimagine journalism to ensure its resiliency and its ability to speak to a diverse set of issues and readers.”

The SciCon lecture will address some of the issues in the book, but Nikki Usher will mainly focus on the questions: What do we have to do to ensure democracy functions in the post-newspaper age? Who should and who can do something? Are there actors who bear a special responsibility? And how can we envisage concepts and strategies for a new ecosystem for quality journalism?


The virtual SciCon series 1.0

Tom Rosenstiel: Journalism and Democracy in the Digital Age
(1 October 2020, 3 pm CET)

Mod.: Prof. Holger Wormer

The virtual SciCon conference series began with a lecture by Tom Rosenstiel. Mr. Rosenstiel is one of the most renowned media experts in the world. According to the Wall Street Journal, his book The Elements of Journalism, published in 2001 together with Tom Kovach, is one of the five most important works ever published on journalism. Mr. Rosenstiel is the managing director of the venerable American Press Institute, founded in 1946. He worked as a journalist for the major US media.

Victor Pickard: Democracy Without Journalism? Dimensions of the Media Crisis
(7 October 2020, 5 pm CET)

Mod.: Prof. Christopher Buschow

The US-American media researcher Victor Pickard, a recognised expert on the US media system, is one of the most influential pioneers of a new media order. Pickard campaigns, in particular, for public media systems. His core thesis, first developed in his influential book Saving the News: Toward a National Journalism Strategy states: ‘The systemic market failure that’s afflicting our news industries necessitates policy interventions and public alternatives.’

Dame Frances Cairncross: What can governments learn from the media crisis in UK? Recommendations from the Cairncross-Review ‘A sustainable Future for Journalism’
(14 October 2020, 5 pm CET)

Mod.: Christina Sartori (freelance science journalist; member of the German Science Journalists’ Association WPK)

Dame Frances Cairncross is a British economist, respected journalist and academic. She is the author of the report that takes stock of the British media system and bears her name. Published in 2019, it recommends government support programmes for the media. The British government had already implemented parts of the Cairncross recommendations by the end of last year. Frances Cairncross spent 13 years as an economics correspondent at The Guardian and 20 years as a senior editor at The Economist.

Prof. Julia Cagé: Saving the Media – A new business model for media in the crisis
(26 October 2020, 5 pm CET)

Mod.: Prof. Christopher Buschow

Prof. Julia Cagé is a Paris-based media economist who has dealt intensively with the crisis of the journalistic business model and the role of the media in democracy. In her highly acclaimed book Saving the Media she develops the idea of a new business model for the media in crisis: Establishing a ‘non-profit media organization’, midway between a foundation and a joint stock company. According to Cagé, such a model would facilitate independent journalism that cannot be influenced by shareholders, advertisers and governments.

Prof. Magda Konieczna: Journalism Without Profit: Why We Need Public Journalism
(28 October 2020, 4 pm CET)

Mod.: Prof. Christopher Buschow

The debate about whether journalism’s future is entrepreneurial or philanthropic has intensified. The US journalism researcher Prof. Magda Konieczna (Temple University) is a world-leading expert on non-profit journalism. Her book Journalism Without Profit: Making News When the Market Fails (2018) is the first in-depth study of non-profit journalism and its economic, professional, and organizational influence. In the USA, foundations have pumped more than one billion US dollars into journalistic projects between 2009 and mid-2016 alone. In this talk she will explain what enables non-profit news organizations to provide public service news when their mainstream counterparts increasingly struggle to do so: How is non-profit news promoting new behaviors across journalism and thereby transforming it? What are non-profit journalism’s opportunities and limitations – and how could states and civil societies play a constructive role here?

Chris Anderson: Future-Proofing journalism – ideas for the digital age
(9 November 2020, 2 pm CET)

Mod.: Prof. Holger Wormer

Chris Anderson of Leeds University is a worldwide recognised expert on digital change in journalism. Mr. Anderson is the author of the book Remaking the News: Essays on the Future of Journalism Scholarship in the Digital Age.

Deborah Blum, Thomas Lin, Volker Stollorz: Best Practice Foundation-based Financing:
Quanta Magazine / Undark / SMC
(18 November 2020, 4 pm CET)

Mod.: Christina Sartori

#SciCon is intended to discuss the future of (science) journalism from an international perspective: What approaches, partnerships and business models finance quality journalism in the digital age? In this online session we want to take a closer look at the role that foundations play in constructively shaping the transformation of journalism. Thus we have invited three editors-in-chief from foundation-financed media: Deborah Blum (, Thomas Lin (Quanta Magazine) and Volker Stollorz (Science Media Center Germany) give insights into their medium’s current financing concepts: What financing options did they investigate, reject and pursue? What output and how many staff are dependent on the existing financing model – and how secure is it? How do these media ensure journalistic independence?

This best-practice session with moderator Christina Sartori (freelance science journalist in Berlin & WPK member) wants to map out their experiences with foundation-based financing. What would they recommend others to do to find financing opportunities for their media projects – and how do they judge the way the “old” publishing world is behaving towards new actors like them?

Our guests:

  • Deborah Blum, Publisher of Undark Magazine & Director of the Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT: was founded in 2016 by Pulitzer Prize-winning science author Deborah Blum and former New York Times journalist Tom Zeller Jr. Undark Magazine is a non-profit, editorially independent online publication exploring science as a “frequently wondrous, sometimes contentious, and occasionally troubling byproduct of human culture”. The publication’s tag line is “Truth, Beauty, Science.” The magazine is published under the auspices of the Knight Science Journalism Fellowships program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • Thomas Lin, Editor-in-Chief & Founder, Quanta Magazine: Quanta Magazine is an editorially independent online publication of the Simons Foundation covering developments in physics, mathematics, biology and computer science. Quanta was launched in October 2012 by the former New York Times journalist Thomas Lin. The articles are freely available to read online. Several publications like Scientific American, Wired, The Atlantic, and The Washington Post, as well as international science publications have reprinted articles from Quanta Magazine.
  • Volker Stollorz, Chief Editor & Managing Director, Science Media Center Germany (SMC): The SMC aims to promote and improve public discourse on science topics through independent and quality-oriented science journalism. It bundles information for journalists on current and socially relevant science topics and makes available the expertise of over 600 selected scientists. The SMC was founded in 2015 with start-up funding from the Klaus Tschira Foundation and pursues a “multi-funder model” with over 40 sponsors from science, business, media and society.

Richard Höchner, Christian Schwägerl: New ways of funding journalism: Die Republik / RiffReporter
(28 January 2021, 3 pm CET)

In the new year, we at #SciCon want to drive the discussion on the future of (science) journalism by taking a closer look on community-based media. What approaches and business models finance quality journalism in the digital age? In this online session we want to focus on the role that cooperatives play in shaping the transformation of journalism.

We have thus invited colleagues from two reader-funded media in Switzerland and Germany: Richard Höchner (Die Republik) and Christian Schwägerl (RiffReporter) will give insights into their medium’s current financing concepts: What financing options did they investigate, reject and pursue? What output and how many staff are dependent on the existing financing model – and how secure is it?

This best-practice session with moderator Dr Birte Fähnrich (Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities) wants to map out their experiences with cooperative models and crowdfunding. What would they recommend others to do to find financing opportunities for their media projects?

Our guests:

  • Richard Höchner is co-founder & head of Community+ at Die Republik, a Swiss online magazine that was launched in January 2018. publishes one to three articles daily. The magazine is dependent on the readership in the form of a cooperative. The initiators promise that the Republic is an independent magazine for public debate – for politics, economics, society – that basically classifies information for people who do not have time to do it themselves. It is exclusively reader-financed and survives without advertising revenue.
  • Christian Schwägerl is co-founder & board member of RiffReporter, a journalistic cooperative from Germany aimed at empowering freelance journalists. To this end, RiffReporter has created an online magazine ( where member journalists can publish projects, articles and contributions, and sell them directly to readers. The cooperative is based in Berlin. The RiffReporter platform went online with an alpha version in November 2016 and the RiffReporter cooperative was founded in Berlin in January 2017. The cooperative currently has over 100 member journalists.

Esther Alonso, Donatien Huet: Best Practice Market-based Financing: Mediapart /
(4 February 2021, 4:30 pm CET)

Mediapart (France) and (Spain) are considered two of the most successful media start-ups in Europe that have focused on developing business models funded by audience revenue.

In this #SciCon session moderated by Prof. Holger Wormer (TU Dortmund University), our guests Esther Alonso (Membership and Development Director, and Donatien Huet (Editor & Head of Future Lab, Mediapart) will give insights into their medium’s current financing concepts: What are their key success factors? How did they establish reader revenue – in contrast to the twentieth century’s reliance on advertising – as source to guarantee independent reporting? What potential is there for gaining audience engagement for a bigger common cause that goes beyond the medium itself? And how do they judge the way the “old” publishing world and legacy media are behaving towards new actors like them?

  • Mediapart – based in Paris – is an independent French online investigative and opinion journal created in 2008. It consists of two main sections: Le Journal, run by professional journalists, and Le Club, a collaborative forum edited by its subscriber community. Mediapart’s income is solely derived from its readers: It has a subscription only model with no advertising and a broad variety of promotions in order to reach new subscribers. The team puts its trust in covering a very limited everyday agenda complemented by investigative reporting. Their premise is that scoops will bring readers, and content will lead to subscriptions. Mediapart has over 140,000 subscribers – and has played a central role in the investigation and revelation of several major French political scandals. Since October 2019, all the shares are owned by a non-for-profit structure (Fund for a Free Press).
  • is an independent digital newspaper pioneer in providing high quality content from Madrid, with an innovative business model aiming to reconnect society with journalism. Started in the middle of the financial crisis, in September 2012, has developed a community-based journalism model reaching mainstream audiences: The key business innovation is the ‘membership programme’ that supplements their advertising revenue – more than 53,000 “socios” already give financial support to in order to strengthen its editorial and economic independence. But it is not a paywall: the “socios” pay for the content to be freely accessible and thus gain social impact. One-third of its revenue comes from its readers and it has been profitable since 2013. More than 70% of the company is owned by people working in the newsroom. has positioned itself amongst the top 10 most read newspapers in Spain. In December 2020, introduced a new membership model: Readers who read more than 10 articles per month will now have to be partners (€8/month) to continue reading. But is still free for those who cannot pay: Students, unemployed, or those on low incomes, can choose a reduced fee which could be zero.

Nadja Oertelt, Beat Glogger: New Ways of Funding Science Media: Massive Science / higgs (11th February 2021, 4:00 pm CET)

Massive Science (USA) and higgs (CH) are considered two of the most innovative science media start-ups that have embarked on new ways of funding.

In this #SciCon session moderated by freelance science journalist Eva Wolfangel, our guests Nadja Oertelt (Co-Founder & CEO, Massive Science) and Beat Glogger (Founder & Editor-in-Chief, higgs) share insights into their medium’s concepts and current financing models: What are their key success factors? What hurdles and practical problems did they have to overcome? How do they ensure qualitative, journalistic and ethical standards? What are their “lessons learned” and recommendations for other science media start-ups that want to break new ground in funding?

  • Launched in 2016, Massive Science is dedicated to helping scientists share stories about their work and lives, to become better science storytellers to make scientific research more understandable for general audiences. The content and media company in New York City wants to deliver “bleeding-edge scientific research and expertise”: trustworthy, entertaining and shareable science content authored by a community of over 2,000 knowledgeable scientists. publishes new stories about science, technology, and health throughout the week. The website is free to access and has digital ads. Massive charges a $10 membership fee for prospective writers who want to get training in science communication. They also have a subscription for $5 per month. Massive Science’s articles are republished in several American online news outlets, including ScienceAlert, Inverse, Salon and Quartz.
  • The online platform higgs ( is “the first independent magazine for knowledge” in Switzerland. Since January 2018, the team has been publishing knowledge for an extremely broad audience on the website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter on a daily basis and is pursuing a “new media system”: higgs offers its content freely available to various media that can no longer afford high-quality science journalism. Thus, higgs aims to bring knowledge to as many areas and as many social classes as possible – especially those who are not a priori interested in science. The platform is mainly financed by the foundation Wissen für alle ( There, freelance journalists – also from Germany – can apply for funding with their topic and research ideas and publish them on higgs. The foundation model, various funding sources and higgs as an intermediary are intended to ensure the independence of reporting.

Amanda D. Lotz: Media Disrupted:
Connecting Journalism to the Right Business Model – Lessons from Australia

(26 February 2021, 9 am CET)

Amanda D. Lotz is a media studies professor at Queensland University of Technology, Australia. Her research focuses on understanding the implications of internet distribution on media industries.

She has received many honours, authored numerous seminal works and recently co-authored a report for the Australian Government’s Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications that assessed existing, emerging, and novel business models and evaluated the regulatory and non-regulatory measures used to support the production and distribution of news and media content in Australia and 12 comparable jurisdictions.

Her forthcoming publication for MIT Press, Media Disrupted: Surviving Pirates, Cannibals and Streaming Wars, tells the story of how the internet and digital technologies disrupted the recorded music, newspaper, film, and television industries. It explores how different industries in a single sector responded to substantial technological disruption to look for lessons about surviving such change, illustrates how misperceptions about the impact of internet communication led to slow and often unsuccessful solutions, and frames business disruption through the lens of media industries to draw lessons about how to respond to disruption that are relevant in many contexts.

At this session, triggered by recent developments in the relationship between Google and the Australian government, and moderated by Alexander Mäder, professor of digital news journalism at the Hochschule der Medien in Stuttgart, Amanda will concentrate on journalism and share her views on the role and impact of platforms like the Google News Showcase and Facebook NewsTab on the media system. This week, Seven West Media became the first major Australian media company to sign a multi-million-dollar agreement with Google against the backdrop of the Australian government’s proposed mandatory media code. And Facebook shut down news sharing.


SPON: Streit über Regulierung: Facebook dreht Australien die Nachrichten ab, 18.02.2021.

Australien will den digitalen Newsmarkt strenger regulieren, das kann für Techkonzerne teuer werden. Facebook blockiert nun das Teilen journalistischer Inhalte – nach eigenen Angaben »schweren Herzens«.

Guardian: Facebook’s botched Australia news ban hits health departments, charities and its own pages, 18.02.2021.

Social media company’s ban on sharing news has also affected dozens of government, not-for-profit and community pages.

Saving Journalism: A Vision for the Post-Covid World, Bericht von Medienexpertin Anya Schiffrin von Columbia University für die Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung

Jonathan Heawood, Karyn Pugliese, Ivan Brincat: What state bodies are doing to promote journalism: UK / Canada / EU
(11 March 2021, 4:30 pm CET)

Moderator: Prof. Christopher Buschow, Bauhaus University Weimar

The economic crisis of the media – especially the collapse of cross-financing of journalism through advertising revenues – has led states to increasingly attempt to structurally support the media system through direct funding. In this session, we will take a closer look at such models for decoupling journalism from market financing.

At the core is the question of how media policy actors in different countries are currently trying to maintain an informed public debate space for the digital age. Which new instruments of direct media funding are currently being tried out, where are the problems in practice, which models are proving to be sustainable? What long-term strategies are these countries pursuing with regard to the structural change of the media landscape? What role does innovation funding play and what is the relationship between this and the traditional media system? And: How can the distribution of funding be organized independently of the state?

For this we have invited:

Prof. Jonathan Heawood, (UK) founder/CEO of IMPRESS, which seeks to ensure that quality independent journalism flourishes in a digital age. Jonathan is currently on secondment to the Public Interest News Foundation (launched 2019) which is implementing the recommendations of the Independent Publishers’ Taskforce, established by IMPRESS. He will address them as follows:
How can the Cairncross recommendations be implemented whilst protecting the freedom of the press?
How can subsidies be directed towards publications that are committed to high standards of journalism?
What kinds of support do small and start-up news publications need in order to thrive in the digital era?

Prof. Karyn Pugliese, Ryerson School of Journalism; past President of the Canadian Association of Journalists. In 2019, the Canadian government announced it would provide almost $595 million over five years in incentives to Canada’s ailing news media. The measures include a 25 per cent refundable tax credit on newsroom salaries for some qualified outlets and other tax incentives. But state funding for private news media is a controversial topic in Canada. A critical appraisal.

Mr Ivan Brincat, Policy Officer, Directorate-General for Communications, Network, Content and Technology (DG-CNECT). With its new European Action Plan for Democracy the EU wants to empower citizens and build more resilient democracies across the EU. The main measures seek to:

  • promote free and fair elections and strong democratic participation
  • support free and independent media
  • counter disinformation

Ivan will highlight the media-relevant elements of the Action Plan and its practical implications for journalists, media owners and other media professionals.

René van Zanten, Ida Willig, Andy Kaltenbrunner: What states are doing to promote journalism: NL / DEN / A
(18 March 2021, 3 pm CET)

Moderator: Prof. Christopher Buschow, Bauhaus University Weimar

The economic crisis of the media – especially the collapse of cross-financing of journalism through advertising revenues – has led states to increasingly attempt to structurally support the media system through direct funding. In this session, we will take a closer look at such models for decoupling journalism from market financing.

At the core is the question of how media policy actors in different countries are currently trying to maintain an informed public debate space for the digital age. Which new instruments of direct media funding are currently being tried out, where are the problems in practice, which models are proving to be sustainable? What long-term strategies are these countries pursuing with regard to the structural change of the media landscape? What role does innovation funding play and what is the relationship between this and the traditional media system? And: How can the distribution of funding be organized independently of the state?

In this session, we will take a closer look at three countries that have long been considered as reference models for direct media funding: The Netherlands, Denmark and Austria. Our guests will be:

René van Zanten, General Director, Stimuleringsfonds voor de Journalistiek (NL): René started in 1980 working as a roving reporter covering international issues for the Haagsche Courant, one of the most prestigious regional newspapers in the Netherlands. In 1995, he became Editor-in-Chief of the big regional newspaper Utrechts Nieuwsblad and in 2003 publisher/director of the biggest regional newspaper De Gelderlander. He started at the Dutch Journalism Fund in 2011. The Stimuleringsfonds voor de Journalistiek (svdj) in Den Haag supports the quality, diversity and independence of journalism in The Netherlands by promoting innovation. To achieve this goal, the fund provides grants to innovative journalism projects, conducts research and stimulates knowledge sharing across the industry. All of the Fund’s activities are financed from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. The svdj offers various programs for grant applications, with special attention to local journalism, investigative journalism and innovation. Among others, Blendle, Local Focus and De Correspondent were able to set up their projects with the support of the Fund.


Prof. Ida Willig, Head of research group Journalism and Democracy, Roskilde University & Danish Media Board (DEN): Ida is Professor for Media Sociology & Journalism at Roskilde University and writes about ‘The Journalistic Gut Feeling’, Bourdieu, Newsroom Ethnography and Media Systems. Her current projects focus on “Cultural Publics” and “Nordic Media Systems Network”. Since 2012, she is a member of the Danish Media Board, which handles the applications for editorial production and innovation subsidies. Denmark has had direct press subsidies since the 1960s – and now also explicitly for digital media. Since 2013, journalistic publications have been subsidized, regardless of the distribution channel, if at least half of the content is editorial in nature and one-sixth of the content was produced by an independent editorial team. A maximum of 35% of the editorial costs are covered per year. In addition, Denmark has an innovation fund for the establishment of new media and a restructuring fund for media in economic distress. The country has a long experience of how the distribution of funding can be organized independently of the state.


Prof. Andy Kaltenbrunner, Managing Partner, Medienhaus Wien: The long-time journalist and internationally active media consultant was the initiator in 2005 and has since been one of the partners of Medienhaus Wien, managing it since 2011. He has been teaching and researching at universities and media academies in Europe and the USA since the 1980s. His research focuses on media convergence and innovation, journalism and media policy. Since October 2020, he has led the Austria team of the D-A-CH project Innovations in Journalism in Democratic Societies. In this session, he will report on the new “Vienna Media Initiative,” with which the City of Vienna aims to support innovative approaches in journalism. Over a period of three years, a total of 7.5 million Euros is available. They are not primarily earmarked for the promotion of technical innovations, but are intended to trigger new forms of presentation, content and business models in journalism.


[DOI: Our moderator Christopher Buschow serves as a juror for the Vienna Media Initiative].

Anya Schiffrin: Saving Journalism: A Vision for the Post-Covid World
(24 March 2021, 4 pm CET)

Moderator: Christina Sartori (freelance science journalist, member of WPK)

The Covid-19 pandemic has confirmed yet again the importance of clear, reliable, and accurate information for societies. Throughout the pandemic audiences have turned to trusted sources for scientific information about the disease and its spread. Yet even as demand for their work has soared, journalists have been laid off and furloughed around the world. News audiences might have risen dramatically in 2020, but shrinking revenues – particularly advertising revenue – have crippled many newsrooms. The economic effects of Covid-19 have helped to create what some are calling a “media extinction event”.

In her new report Saving Journalism: A Vision for the Post-Covid World, media expert Anya Schiffrin from Columbia University focuses on proposals to address the financial problems devastating journalism in the Covid-19 era. It surveys new initiatives underway to address the present moment, assesses the likelihood of success, and profiles the key players. Countries can learn from one another about how to support quality news and information.

Many of the new initiatives involve increased support from foundations and discussion about how media business models can adapt to the current crisis. But desperate times require flexibility and new ideas, and we are seeing a surprising number of proposals that break with past practices. Philanthropic support has enabled hundreds of media outlets around the world to survive, but it’s increasingly clear that more systemic support is needed.

In this SciCon session, Anya uses her global analysis to explain the four core areas of a sustainable financing strategy for news media – with special emphasis on public subsidy efforts and making tech companies pay for quality journalism: What are the most promising models of government support for quality journalism? What can we learn from France and the Nordic and Canadian endeavours about how governments can support a diverse and pluralistic media ecosystem? What are the lessons from Australia’s groundbreaking effort to get Google and Facebook to pay for distributed content?

Anya calls for “a concerted effort by all news organizations, governments, foundations, and citizens to sustain journalism”, as no single initiative has yet solved the problem. Though the report does not definitively answer the question of how to save the media, it presents a useful primer for anyone who is trying to. Her paper ends with a dramatic appeal: “The problem is pressing, and action needs to happen quickly. Now is the time for donors and governments to spend heavily, coordinate, and push forward with efforts aimed at leveling the playing field with tech companies.”

Dr Anya Schiffrin is a senior lecturer at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) where she is director of the Technology, Media, and Communications specialization. She is editor of the forthcoming Media Capture: How Money, Digital Platforms, and Governments Control the News, which is being published by Columbia University Press in 2021.

Event Information:
“Supporting Journalism: What we can learn from other countries”
Tomorrow, on March 25th at 11am EDT (4 pm CET), Anyas team is organizing a webinar that will look at government policy measures and what can be learned from Canada and France: Steve Waldman, Julia Cagé, and Edward Greenspon will discuss policy measures tried in different countries to support media outlets, ranging from tax subsidies to vouchers for news and new laws addressing inequality in bargaining power between news content producers and digital platforms as well as recent US legislation to support local news.

  • Steve Waldman is President and Co-Founder at Report for America
  • Julia Cagé is Assistant Professor of Economics in the Department of Economics at Sciences Po Paris
  • Edward Greenspon is President & CEO at Public Policy Forum


Aron Pilhofer: Visions & business models for journalism in the near future
(15 April 2021, 3 pm CEST / 9 am EDT)

Moderator: Prof. Christopher Buschow, Bauhaus University Weimar

#SciCon is intended to drive forward the discussion about the future of (science) journalism from an international perspective: The economic crisis of the media – especially the collapse of cross-financing of journalism through advertising revenues – has led media start-ups world-wide to experiment with innovative digital journalism. What approaches, partnerships and business models will finance quality journalism in the digital age? In this online session we want to focus on the role that new digital business models play in constructively shaping the transformation of journalism.

Thus, we have invited Professor for Journalism Innovation Aron Pilhofer from Temple University (Philadelphia, PA) to present a systematic look at visions and business models for journalism in the near future. Assessing the current media start-up and innovation scene, the former Guardian & New York Times digital editor will share his insights on what approaches to new business models are emerging, and which ones seem to be already working. What is currently being tried out, where are the problems in practice, which models are proving to be sustainable? Accordingly, Aron take a closer look at the structures of innovation funding.

Based on his experience with News Catalyst & Tiny News Collective, Aron Pilhofer will outline the needs of the media innovator’s scene, what they are missing, and what support measures they need. Are these new models able to pave the way for media to find new audiences, improve internal processes and monetize news?

Aron Pilhofer (@pilhofer) is the James B. Steele Chair in Journalism Innovation at Temple University (@TempleUniv) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. In addition to teaching, his work is focused on new business models, digital transformation and innovation in news. Before joining Temple, Pilhofer was executive editor, digital, and interim chief digital officer at the Guardian in London. There, he led the Guardian’s product and technology teams as well as heading visual journalism – including pictures, graphics, interactive and data journalism. Before coming to the Guardian, Aron was associate managing editor for digital strategy and editor of interactive news at The New York Times. He also was a reporter at Gannett newspapers in New Jersey and Delaware, headed data journalism at the Center for Public Integrity in Washington, D.C. and served on the training staff of Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE). Outside the newsroom, Aron co-founded two news-related startups:, now housed at Temple University’s Klein College of Media and Communication, and Hacks & Hackers.


  • Editor & Publisher: Tiny News Collective Will Provide Resources for Local Publishers. March 22, 2021. LION Publishers and News Catalysts have launched the Tiny News Collective (, an initiative that will provide the tools and resources to help people build sustainable news organizations. (…) “It’s about equity and renewal,” Pilhofer said. “It’s about seeding news organizations where they are desperately, desperately needed, and providing all the support and protection they need to grow and succeed.” To do that, the collective will provide industry-standard technology, like a complete publishing system based on Google Docs and Google Workspace; a full accounting and fundraising suite from MonkeyPod; and a local advertising marketplace from Letterhead and WhereBy.Us. (…) The plan is to launch 500 news outlets—10 by this spring and 490 over the next three years.,188769
  • Based at Temple University’s Klein College of Media and Communication, News Catalyst ( helps news organizations transform themselves into sustainable digital businesses by providing tools, fostering collaboration, and promoting experimentation within the news industry. Its focus is in areas in which news organizations have traditionally underinvested, like product development, data, analytics, digital storytelling, mobile and engagement. Where there are gaps in capability, News Catalyst aims to fill them by providing tools, technology, training, hands-on support and expertise.

Matt Rogerson, Martin Jönsson: On the future of newspapers and publishers
(21 April 2021, 5 pm CEST)

Moderator: Jeanne Rubner (Bavarian Public Radio)

For the last online session in the run-up to the SciCon online conference on 12 May 2021, we have invited the Head of Public Policy at the Guardian Media Group, Matt Rogerson, UK, and the Head of Editorial Development at Dagens Nyheter, Martin Jönsson, Sweden, to share their thoughts on the future of publishing in general and newspapers in particular. Against the backdrop of their own media business models and successful digitisation, they will explore the future of newspapers as the medium that has been hardest hit by technology disruption. How does the Guardian/Dagens Nyheter model function and are they satisfied with it? Is it a business model they would recommend to others and, if not, what other ideas might be feasible? Where should the money come from to secure the future of public interest news and science reporting? State funding? Tax/VAT concessions? Foundations?

Matt Rogerson is Director of Public Policy at Guardian Media Group where he is engaged on issues including data privacy, editorial freedom, issues of dominance in the digital economy and the broader question of the future of the high-quality news media. He was a member of the advisory panel to the government’s Cairncross Review of press sustainability. Matthew previously spent five years as Head of Public Affairs and Policy at Virgin Media.

Martin Jönsson has been a journalist for nearly 40 years and is currently Head of Editorial Development at Sweden’s largest supraregional daily, Dagens Nyheter. He was previously Digital Director at Swedish Public Radio, Deputy Editor-in-Chief at Svenska Dagbladet, Professor of Journalism at the University of Gothenburg and a media analyst for both Schibsted and Bonnier.

Moderator Jeanne Rubner is Head of Science and Education at Bavarian Public Radio with a passion for science, the environment and technology. Before joining BR in 2012, she held various posts at Süddeutsche Zeitung and is the author of a number of books.


SciCon2.0 Conference

The 2023 SciCon2.0 lecture series comprises ten online lectures and will culminate in a conference in Berlin (9/10 November 2023). There, the ideas and best-practice examples presented and discussed in the two SciCon lecture series will be explored with international experts in greater depth. The conference thus aims to contribute to formulating answers to questions revolving around the future of science journalism based on state-of-the-art knowledge. The resulting options for action will be debated during and after the conference with representatives from the media, science, media policy and civil society. 

All the lectures in the SciCon 2.0 series will be documented as video recordings and transcribed on this website. They can be accessed free of charge in PDF format by anyone interested in the topics. For the lectures in the first SciCon series, visit Knowledge Reservoir – EU-SciCon 2020 ( and con gressa Cloud ( for the corresponding PDFs: “SciCon Summary”.