Media Innovation Lab: “Reporting Ethically During a Pandemic”


USAID’s “Balkan Media Assistance Program (BMAP)”



Deadline for Applications: November 9, 2020

Are you a young professional or a team looking for some innovative approaches to the challenges you face in your day-to-day work?

Are you a web developer who enjoys playing with online gadgets to keep people aware and informed?

Are you passionate about finding ways to bridge media and technology?

USAID’s BMAP, implemented by Internews in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), is releasing an open call for applications for participation in the third Media Innovation Lab, slated for December 1-4, 2020.

The Media Innovation Lab is an annual event that provides a creative, collaborative space where media professionals, designers, technologists, and others can come together to develop localized tools and projects that will help tackle challenges facing digital media across the Balkan region.

This year’s Innovation Lab theme will be: Reporting Ethically During a Pandemic.

Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our Media Innovation Lab will not be held in its standard form, but will be organized in a virtually hosted environment.

The Lab will strive to spark cross-sectoral thinking and provide an opportunity for participants to form connections with professionals they wouldn’t normally have an opportunity to meet. Lab participants will work together to solve real problems!

During the four days of the Lab, five selected projects will have the opportunity to work intensively on developing their ideas for innovative projects related to the Lab theme with the guidance of top-notch regional mentors.

The Media Innovation Lab will gather lead experts in the field and provide different perspectives, teach new skills, and inspire participants to tackle new challenges!

On the last day, participants will present their projects to a jury for a chance to receive seed funding of up to $5,000 USD to further develop their prototypes and ideas after the event into full-fledged tools and projects that can be rolled out for use by media across the region. Three projects will receive seed funding.

All documents, materials and sessions will be in English, which will be the working language of the Media Innovation Lab.

Who can apply?

Teams of individuals, freelancers, and professionals who are passionate about media, such as journalists, editors, NGO representatives, IT developers, and designers are encouraged to apply and come up with innovative ideas. Partnerships with media outlets or media organizations for joint applications are strongly encouraged, and also encouraged to include young and creative professionals in each team.

  • You can apply as an individual or as a part of a team of no more than five people. It doesn’t matter if you have worked together before or you have just met, but groups are encouraged to reflect a diverse set of skills and interests (ex. media professionals, designers, technologists).
  • If you are an individual with an idea, you are encouraged to apply! You don’t have to have everything sorted out – the organizers can provide assistance and guidance in finding experts as potential team members.
  • The organizers are looking for individuals and teams that bridge nationalities, specialties, and sectors: USAID’s BMAP actively encourages partnerships across borders of all kinds.
  • Also think about potential partnership with non-media people non-traditional actors (e.g., private business entities, NGOs, social influencers, digital rights activists). Is there someone who would bring added value to your team? Who would that be? Let the organizers know, or let them help you think of someone!
  • Applicants need to be gender balanced.

The formal applicant should be a resident or a media outlet or a NGO registered in BiH, Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia or Kosovo, but individual team members don’t have to be employees of these organizations and outlets. Be as diverse as you would like!

What should a project proposal look like?

Project ideas should use innovative digital technologies and applications to find exciting ways to tackle challenges dealing with the Lab theme: Reporting Ethically During a Pandemic. Your ideas can take different shapes and forms, for example:

  • Mobile apps
  • Webinars or short, interactive educational formats for mobile and web use
  • Social media campaigns
  • Small-scale creative e-learning trainings/workshops
  • Training solutions for fast paced environments

Projects can take on issues such as, but not limited to:

  • Digital storytelling
  • Tackling challenges of remote work (tools, apps)
  • Challenges of reporting during a pandemic
  • Telling difficult stories through creative arts
  • Introducing innovation into journalism during a pandemic
  • New approaches to debunking fake news
  • Creating science-based data sets for reporting
  • Podcasting and audio storytelling
  • Data visualization
  • Reaching new audiences (youth, diaspora, new internet users, etc.)
  • MoJo – Mobile Journalism

However, these are only some examples – be creative! When you are thinking about your project idea, keep your potential audience in mind, and also remember that it will need to be done quickly (ideally within 3-6 months) and within the $5,000 USD limit.

All proposed pilot concepts, ideas and final products should be designed for free and open use.

For more information and the application form, please visit the organizer’s website