The Global Editors Network (GEN) announced Thursday that it will cease its activities due to lack of sustainable finances. The decision comes nine years since GEN’s founding.
GEN, the worldwide association of editors-in-chief and senior news executives, was established in 2011 as an independent NGO to help news media navigate the disruption brought on by technology, to facilitate collaboration, promote innovation and support sustainable business models. Its funding came primarily from three sources: platforms, foundations and news organizations — the latter through tickets sales for the GEN Summit, the organization’s flagship annual event. GEN strove to retain its financial and editorial independence by guaranteeing a diversity of funding sources.
In the past years, it has become increasingly difficult to maintain a balance between GEN’s three main sources of funding and to further diversify them, particularly given the many pressures on the news industry. In recent weeks, the GEN board explored numerous avenues in hopes of continuing GEN’s work, but ultimately concluded they would not be enough to sustain the organization.
The GEN board and staff expressed pride in GEN’s decade of achievements.
“Despite the disappointment of the moment, members of the board and myself all feel distinct pride in what GEN has accomplished, from fostering news startups to supporting independent journalistic voices to celebrating the best of data journalism. We believe that the community of editors that GEN has helped promote will continue the fight for a better future of journalism. We are very grateful to them and to all GEN supporters,” said Jim Roberts, GEN President.
The GEN CEO Bertrand Pecquerie also said he is still optimistic about the future of our industry. “I certainly do not want to communicate a message of hopelessness. The challenges are immense, but new, creative initiatives abound and it is important to keep fighting for independent and quality news media,” explained Pecquerie.
What were GEN’s main achievements?
In the past nine years, the association produced nine GEN Summits in Hong Kong (2011), Paris (2012 & 2013), Barcelona ( 2014 & 2015), Vienna (2016 & 2017), Lisbon (2018) and Athens (2019). Over 4,000 editors and senior news executives, data journalists, startup CEOs and technologists came from all over the world to debate the major challenges facing the industry and to propose collaborative solutions.
GEN initiated the first international Data Journalism Awards (DJA) back in 2012, to support and celebrate the best of data-driven storytelling. It always believed in harnessing the strengths of technology for intelligent, deep and transformative journalism. In 2019, GEN received over 600 submissions for the awards from 80+ countries, from the USA and Cuba to South Korea and Mongolia.
Since 2012, GEN organised over 70 hackathons in 40 cities as part of the Editors Lab programme, bringing together 2,000 journalists, designers and IT professionals. As a result, newsrooms around the world have tested 700 innovative solutions to improve gender-sensitive, climate and migration reporting among others.
GEN’s Startup for News programme was a cutting-edge competition for up-and-coming media startups. It helped spread the word about 120 startups in more than 100 countries. Many of them are now well-established organizations, such as Storyful, Wibbitz, Trint, Valossa, JYC, Laterpay, Croma and Coda Story.
The board and staff of GEN were quoted as being very grateful for the support that they received from many companies and foundations over the past decade and from 40,0000 editors, news executives and media innovators.