FAQ: Mekong Data Journalism Fellowship

FAQ: Mekong Data Journalism Fellowship

Who qualifies for this Fellowship?  

We are looking for applicants with 2 to 3 years of experience in journalism based in the Mekong Basin region, meaning Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. We prefer applicants that have an interest in reporting on environmental issues in the Mekong region and want to learn how to use data in storytelling. Applicants must be proficient in the English language as the Fellowship will be conducted in English.   

How will this Fellowship operate and what is the timeline? 

The fellowship is being organized by Internews’ Earth Journalism Network, the East-West Center and the Stimson Center, with support from Open Development Cambodia, an open data website that compiles data in the public domain on Cambodia, and Thibi, a Myanmar-based organization designing data-driven technologies. 

The Fellowship will start with an 80-hour virtual data journalism training spaced over several weeks in late March and June. Each training session will be roughly 10-12 hours adjusted to fit participants’ schedules. During these sessions, Fellows will hear from global and regional experts on water security issues and river management and learn how to use datasets the Stimson Center has made available through its Mekong Infrastructure Tracker and Mekong Dams Monitor.  

After the training, each Fellow will propose a story idea based on information they learned during those sessions. They’ll then get one-on-one mentorship to help produce their story. Each Fellow will also receive US$3000 to cover the cost of story production.  

What will a Fellow learn during the training?  

The training is composed of three modules; 

  1. Introduction to Data Storytelling: Here Fellows will learn how to interpret data and make connections between data, policy recommendations and storytelling.  

  1. Finding Data: Fellows will then be introduced to the different formats in which data appear and the tools needed to access that data. We’ll also discuss ways to find data online and effective online search techniques. 

  1. Telling Stories with Data: Finally, Fellows will learn to transform data into information that is relevant to people's lives, and synthesizing data findings into stories that help readers better understand issues. 

What’s the purpose of the training? 

The training is a way for Fellows to develop ideas for a data-driven story to be produced at the end of the course and improve their understanding of the value of data in reporting so they may integrate it into their regular coverage. Each module will include exercises and assignments that Fellows will be expected to complete.  

Who is leading the training? 

Eva Constantaras, Internews’ Data Journalism Advisor. Eva has nine years of global data journalism training experience and is Google Journalism Fellow and Fulbright Scholar.  She developed training curricula for investigative and data journalism courses in many developing and high-risk countries, including Pakistan, Iraq and Myanmar.  

The training will be co-organized by Thibi and Open Development Cambodia. 

How many stories is a Fellow expected to produce from this Fellowship? 

Each Fellow must produce at least one data-driven story on Mekong River sustainability based on data drawn from the Mekong Infrastructure Tracker and/or Mekong Dam Monitor, as well as other data sources. The Fellow will get support from Thibi to create graphic and data visualizations they can use in their final product. 

Is there a deadline for the stories to be published/broadcast? 

Yes. Fellows must publish/broadcast their stories before the end of July. 

If I can't join every session of the virtual training, am I still eligible?   

We prefer applicants who can commit their full time to join the training. If you are selected and have an urgent matter during the training, we ask that you consult with the trainer on a case-by-case basis. 

Can I apply to the Fellowship as part of a team?  

Yes. But we will consider your application as one individual, meaning you will get US$3000 in total for your team. You should have one person take the lead on the application and be the point of contact. You and your teammates can then each join the virtual training and collaborate on developing your story idea.  

Do I need to hold citizenship in one of the Mekong Basin countries to apply? 

Yes. Applicants must be a citizen of one of the following countries: Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand or Vietnam. 

Is there an age limit?  

No. You can be any age to apply for this Fellowship, but you must show that you’ve had some previous reporting experience, be able to demonstrate that the story will be published and have a letter of approval from an editor.  

If I am a freelance journalist, can I apply for the Fellowship?  

Yes. We encourage applications from freelancers and staff from all types of media organizations. But you need to provide a supporting letter from an editor that acknowledges your story or stories produced from this Fellowship will be published/broadcast.  

Do I need to report in English to be eligible? 

No. The story/stories you produce through this Fellowship can be in any language. However, you will need to translate your story into English so we can republish and share your work among our partners and networks. You are expected to pay the translation fee using your US$3000 stipend. * Note that even if you plan to report in a language other than English, you need to be proficient in English to participate in the Fellowship since it will be the language of instruction.

The application description says EJN and the East-West Center must also be given rights to edit, publish, broadcast and distribute stories freely. What does that mean? 

EJN and the East-West Center reserve the ability to share and promote the stories produced through our support on our individual websites and through our social media and may edit the fellows' stories after they are published with their media outlet for length, clarity and in keeping with EJN standards. We will not intervene or influence the fellows' story production process. 

I have reviewed the application guidelines and still have a question.  

Please send an email to pwangkiat@internews.org 

Banner image by Steffen B. on Unsplash

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