OPEN CALL FOR PROPOSALS AND IDEAS - 2nd MEDIA INNOVATION LAB Empowering Journalism Through Free and Open Source Software

17.10.2023. / 15:18


“Balkan Media Assistance Program to Foster Organizational Readiness

While Advancing Resilient Development” (BMAP Forward)



Empowering Journalism Through Free and Open Source Software

Publication Date: October 17, 2023

Deadline for Applications: November 15, 2023


 Are you passionate about finding ways to utilize free and open source solutions to bridge media and technology?

Are you willing to experiment with new technologies in a way they could solve the challenges you face every day?

Would you be ready to work with a multidisciplinary team for Media Innovation Lab 2023? 

 Together you can develop something new choosing one of numerous existing Open Source solutions.


 “The Balkan Media Assistance Program to Foster Organizational Readiness While Advancing Resilient Development” (BMAP Forward), funded by USAID and implemented by Internews as part of the PROGRESS Human Rights Support Mechanism is opening the call for the 2nd Media Innovation Lab, slated for December, 2023. 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: Empowering Journalism through Free and Open Source Software. Our Media Innovation Lab will be organized in Podgorica, Montenegro as an in person event.

The Lab will strive to spark multidisciplinary approach and provide an opportunity for participants to invite professionals they wouldn’t normally have in a team. They can help with their know how on Free and Open Source (FOSS) solution’s implementation and localisation.which will benefit your work solving the challenges you face.. Lab’s goal is for you to jointly offer an innovative idea on how to adapt existing solutions to your needs. Teams 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 $8,500 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?

We encourage teams of individuals, freelancers, and professionals who are passionate about media and technology, such as journalists, editors, NGO representatives, IT developers, and designers to come up with the FOSS solution which you’ll work on together – based on your media’s experience and IT expertize for developing the tool you need... We strongly encourage partnerships with media outlets or media organizations for joint applications, and to include  creative  professionals of different backgrounds in each team.

  • You can apply as an individual for a fellowship 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 we encourage groups to reflect on diverse set of skills and interests (ex. media professionals, designers, technologists).
  • If you are an individual with an idea, we encourage you to apply! You don’t have to have everything sorted out – we can provide assistance and guidance in finding experts as potential team members.
  • We are looking for individuals and teams that bridge nationalities, expertise, and sectors: BMAP Forward 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 us know or let us help you think of someone!
  • Applicants are encouraged to consider social aspects of open source development that makes it inclusive for everyone (gender, disability, ethnicity, culture)

The formal applicant should be a resident or a media outlet or an NGO, IT company,or start up, university registered in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia and 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 open source technologies and solutions  to find exciting ways to tackle challenges dealing with the Lab theme: Empowering Journalism through Free and Open Source Software. Your ideas can take different shapes and forms:

1. New free and open source solutions:

a. New solutions for enhancing journalistic reporting and multimedia storytelling

b. Newsroom management tools for improvement of current working processes and organization in media outlet

c. Tools that improve management of media business

d. Tools to improve digital security monitoring and threat mitigation


2. Extension of existing open source solutions to be more suitable for the media

a. Creation of plugins for open source CMS solutions useful for the media business

b. Creation of archiving solutions for media needs

c. Enhancing existing tools for journalistic reporting and multimedia storytelling

3. Adaptation of existing open source solutions for use by the media in the Western Balkan

a. Language adaptation of existing open source tool into Albanian, Bosnian, Croatian, Macedonian, Montenegrin  and Serbian.

b. UX/UI adaptation for better use in newsrooms

c. Adaptation of open source information systems for the media business

4. Creation of knowledge and learning tools around open source solutions

a. Creation of guides on use of open source solutions adapted to media community

b. Proposal of AI use policy for media

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

  • Multimedia journalism creation with emphasis on accessible multilanguage content
  • Social media management
  • Newsroom business process management (editorial, publishing, social media, data analytics etc.)
  • Media business process management (HR, subscription, advertising etc.)
  • Ethical AI use in publishing

Some examples of open-source software tools used in media business that you might check out for an inspiration include following:

Open Broadcaster Software
Datasette Cloud
Big Opportunities in Small Data
Datasette ChatGPT Plugin
Business modelling
Open Airtable
Project management
Global scraped map data
Encrypted collaboration
Animation software
Auto workflows
Internet Archive has new CLI tools

Also, tools like:

Superdesk for newsroom management and organization,

Happyscribe for automated transcribing,

Sourcefabric for archiving and many more...explore and find the one which suits your need!

Those are just some examples to inspire you – be creative! And, if you like one specific example – feel free to pick from the list and let us know how you would localize it in your application!

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 $8,500 USD limit.

All proposed pilot concepts, ideas and final products should be designed for free and open use. BMAP Forward will publish all developed materials, apps, methodologies to its’ platform for free and open use as well as to the repository.

The selection process:

The applicant should submit the completed Application Form (Attachment 1) by the deadline listed above. A selection committee will evaluate all applications received and select the top five applicants to participate in the Media Innovation Lab. Project ideas will be evaluated on:  

  • Clarity of vision;
  • Applicability to the theme of the event;
  • Feasibility of implementation within the available budget and a reasonable time frame;
  • Diversity of partners involved;
  • Cross-sectoral approach;
  • Potential for impact; and
  • Usefulness for a broad range of media outlets across the region.


  1. Check online if your idea/project has already been implemented.
  2. Consider how media workers will interact with your tool, and provide a brief explanation in the application
  3. Emphasize the benefits of the tool for a short-term or a long-term use
  4. Work on a strong pitch-presentation


  1. Send your application after the deadline
  2. Don't spend too much time designing the perfect project in the application, we will have 4 days to work together

The selection committee will also take into account applicants’ professional history, quality of past work, and motivation to actively strengthen cross-border connections following the event.

Would you like to schedule an info session before you apply?

Please send an e-mail to, and we will make sure you have all your questions answered! 

The Balkan Media Assistance Program to Foster Organizational Readiness While Advancing Resilient Development (BMAP Forward) aims to strengthen the competitiveness of independent media in the Western Balkans in the local and regional marketplaces and improve the sustainability of the sector across the region through creative partnerships and collaboration.


Attachment 1: Media Innovation Lab Application Form

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