“Often overlooked”: the media startups to watch in 2021

The media industry is having a rough time. Newsrooms are closing, team sizes are shrinking (even in social-first examples like Buzzfeed, HuffPost and Vice) and tech giants are hoovering up the advertising revenue that once went to fund original journalism. Public trust in journalism also remains low.

Despite that, we are seeing a new wave of digital media startups trying to do journalism differently, attempting to solve core issues with the industry by filling a niche in reporting, building a committed membership base or engaging the public with outreach programmes.

From Are We Europe to Tortoise, here we take a look at the best European media startups. To qualify for the list, the outlets had to be launched after 2010, editorially independent and digital-first; producing original content that disrupts their area of coverage or the media landscape as a whole.

We didn’t put ourselves on the list, but we at Sifted are also an independent digital-first new media startup!

Web traffic stats for February 2021 are taken from SimilarWeb, and funding information from our data partner Dealroom — or from the media startups themselves.


Bywire covers blockchain technologies around the world, and this week it launches its new site. It’s perhaps one of the most unusual publications on this list because all of its published content has been placed on the EOS blockchain network. That means all articles have a record on the blockchain that details when it was created, by whom and if any revisions have been made since publication.

Doing so gives Bywire or its readers a stronger ability to hold to account the contributors or editors responsible for a piece: its revisions and inaccuracies. The site even states that contributors “who fall short of our standards can be warned, sanctioned or removed from the network.”

Bywire told Sifted that this method once deployed “will eventually help to end censorship from tyrannical governments and hostile corporations, and will deliver creator accountability and data ownership immutability.”


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