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Funders share tips on how to win international reporting grants

Funders share tips on how to win international reporting grants

Elyssa Pachico | October 28, 2016

For journalists looking for a chance to report overseas, it may be harder than ever to get financial and logistical support from their newsrooms to do so.

However, there’s another option besides self-funding a trip: grants issued by organizations like the International Reporting Project (IRP), the Fund for Investigative Journalism (FIJ) and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

IJNet recently attended an event in Washington, D.C. where representatives from these three organizations gave advice on applying and winning reporting grants (ICFJ Programs Director Elisa Tinsely also participated). Melody Schreiber of IRP, Sandy Bergo of FIJ and Nathalie Applewhite of the Pulitzer Center all agreed that doing the following can only make your proposal stronger:

  • Find a mentor to help review your application

  • Many times, proposals are rejected because there was already another application (or multiple applications) that dealt with the same topic. Don’t get discouraged and apply again during the next round

  • Do your homework! Familiarize yourself with the organization first, and what kind of work they fund

  • Show that you have a budget and a publication plan. Yes, this puts early-career journalists in a bind if they haven't yet established that kind of relationship with publications. But if you can't show there's an outlet ready to publish your work, that's not going to convince funders to back your project 

See some of their other tips for applying and winning reporting grants in the tables below:

International Reporting Project (IRP)
Upcoming deadlines 

Rolling deadline for reporting fellowships on women's rights and LGBT issues 

What they do

- Group reporting trips (up to 10 to 12 people). IRP plans all logistics of the trip, including flights, hotels and interviews.

- Independent reporting trips.

General advice for winning a grant

-  IRP only offers independent grants that cover a certain theme. Currently, it’s women's and LGBT issues.

- If at first you don’t succeed, apply again! IRP is a small organization and they tend to remember strong proposals from previous applicants. This is another reason why, if your proposal isn’t accepted the first time, you should react graciously.

You're a good fit if...

- Groups trips are best if you haven’t done any foreign reporting before, but are looking to get a feel for it.

- Experienced journalists are encouraged to apply for independent reporting trips.

 

Fund for Investigative Journalism (FIJ)
Upcoming deadlines 

Applications for proposals close on February 6, 2017

What they do- Grants that help fund up to 50 investigative reporting projects per year

General advice for winning a grant

-  All applications are reviewed by a board of 12 experienced investigative journalists, so make sure your proposal is geared towards producing an “investigative” story. 

-  Is your proposed story groundbreaking? If you’re reporting on something that others have already written about extensively, how are you approaching the theme in a new way?

- Make sure your proposed investigation is doable, and make your case for why you are the best person to do it. 

You're a good fit if...

- While investigative stories are challenging to produce, emerging and early-career journalists are encouraged to apply. 

 

The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting 
Upcoming deadlines 

Proposals are accepted on a rolling basis, and usually take up to three weeks to process.

What they do

- Fund up to 150 international reporting trips per year for experienced and early-career journalists (last year, the funded projects included 25 by students).

-  Journalists typically spend two to three weeks in the field and are awarded between US$5,000 to US$15,000, although the Center has also provided up to US$80,000 for special projects. 

- They typically work with freelancers rather than staff journalists, but this has been changing recently, having backed projects by The Seattle Times and USA Today.

General advice for winning a grant

- Don’t focus on breaking news of a crisis, such as a health scare or a natural disaster. Your proposal should aim to explain what leads to these crises in the first place, and what the impact has been

- Make sure your proposed story hasn’t already been covered before by another Pulitzer Center grant recipient.

- If you’re rejected the first time you apply (or multiple times), don’t give up! In many cases, applicants who have been rejected multiple times are eventually funded. 

You're a good fit if...

-  Have a solid distribution plan. Where will your story be published? Is there a multimedia element?

-  Non-native English speaking journalists can apply for the Persephone Miel Fellowship, which is awarded annually.

Main image CC-licensed by Flickr via Tracy Hunter.

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