The programme, supported by the Gates Foundation, will award sixteen projects a share of more than €300,000 in grants for "innovative" journalistic endeavours based around the Millennium Development Goals.
"The ones we have now are really good projects," Wilfried Rütten, director of the European Journalism Centre, told Journalism.co.uk. "Very serious CVs, decent budgets, major media outlets, great story approaches. If that comes through I'll be happy. Still everything is on paper, but if these stories all run like they intend to run then I'm very happy with the outcome."
Projects were eligible if they had a target audience in one or more of the eight European countries with the highest net development assistance (France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, UK), are in collaboration with a media outlet with a large audience and are based around the progress or objectives of the Millennium Development Goals.
The projects, selected from more than 500 applications, include: an interactive application to be published by Der Spiegel about the day-to-day lives of Somali refugees in an Ethiopian refugee camp; a crowdsourced and data-driven investigation into land grabbing in Africa to feature in media outlets from a number of different countries; an interactive multimedia investigation to map European cash flows into and out of Kenya for Spain's El Mundo; a series of multimedia reports into "reducing the digital divide" in India, Uruguay and Egypt for Spain's ABC and Italy's The Post Internazionale; and a multi-organisation project to create "interactive graphic visualisations" of development issues around the world.
"What I found outstanding was the co-operation levels," Rüttens added. "There's a lot of in-kind contributions from the media houses so it's basically a part of the funding."
The prevalence of data- or multimedia-based projects was encouraging, said Rüttens, as all the projects would be displayed online to make them more "sustainable" and accessible, with traditional media acting as a "back-up channel" for the website.
Rüttens was also interested in the similarity of approaches on a technological level as it showed a similar calibre of digital innovation among European journalistic enterprises.
"There were very few differences between the countries," he said. "So the state-of-the-art guys would be on a similar page in Spain and Italy and France and UK and Germany.
"I thought there would be more cultural differences of how to do this, but everyone is basically going for a similar environment, a similar approach. The state-of-the-art is international more than steeped in national traditions so much."
The deadline for the next round of grants is 2 September 2013, and Rüttens said the programme would be lowering the "threshold" for applications to further facilitate the process, but insisted that experience plays a role in selection as he felt a responsibility for the investigations the programme supports.
"We got a lot of stories where you could see the CV of the person is not the one that should be doing this and then you have some old hacks in their 40s having 20 years of Africa experience, they can do anything," he said.
"Great stories, yes, but I want to see the reporters back after and not get lost in the woods."
The stories are expected to be published by the end of the year.