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Environmental Reporting in Sri Lanka

Call for Proposals

Published on
06 Oct 2021
24 October 2021, 11:59 PM, (UTC +0530) (Extended Deadline) info.ejn [at] internews.org
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Internews' Earth Journalism Network is offering grants to journalists in Sri Lanka to produce in-depth environmental stories in the country.

Please read the following sections carefully, as they contain important information on eligibility and the application process.

Overview 

For decades, Sri Lanka, a biodiversity hotspot, has been experiencing slow emergencies, be it the impacts of climate change, forest fragmentation and pollution.  

Unplanned development activities and mega infrastructure initiatives have accelerated habitat loss and the depletion of natural resources — threatening communities and endemic species of flora and fauna. 

This ongoing environmental degradation threatens livelihoods, human safety and the biodiverse Sri Lankan ecosystem: putting its population of nearly 22 million at risk.  

Emerging from nearly three decades of war, the Indian Ocean-island nation has yet to fully assess conflict-related environmental impacts. Now, existing human and environmental health concerns exacerbated by a global pandemic add a fresh layer of vulnerability. 

Despite the severity of environmental threats, many of these concerns have gone either under-reported or overlooked, resulting in information and knowledge gaps that must be addressed.  

Story themes 

We welcome investigative and/or in-depth environmental stories from Sri Lanka that engage audiences to better understand: 

  • Threats posed by human activities and corruption.
  • Good practices that mitigate environmental destruction.  
  • Good governance measures to manage natural resources. 
  • Concerns of marginalized and Indigenous communities. 
  • Climate change and its impacts on ecosystems and communities. 

Proposals that focus on topics or stories that have not been widely covered are preferred. Issues that have already received a lot of media coverage or don't provide unique angles or approaches are less likely to be selected.  

Eligibility 

Stories can be produced and published in three languages — Sinhala, Tamil, or English, but the applications should be submitted in English. Applicants who produce non-English stories should provide an English translation; the cost for translation could be included in the proposed budget.  

We will accept applications from journalists who are Sri Lankan nationals. Applications are open to journalists in Sri Lanka working in any medium (online, print, television, or radio). We encourage applications from both staff and freelance reporters from all types of media organizations — international, national, local, and community-based. We ask that your reporting proposal be targeted to the audience your publication will reach. 

We'll accept both individual and group applications, but for the latter we ask that the application is made in the name of one lead applicant who will receive the grant on the group's behalf, if awarded.  

Story approach & format 

We expect to award up to 10 grants with an average amount of $1,000 each, depending on the proposal and needs outlined in the budget submission. We will consider larger grant amounts for stories using innovative or investigative approaches that may be more costly and time-consuming to produce. 

We plan to issue grants in late October, with strict deadline to publish stories no later than 15 December 2021. Applicants should consider this timeline when developing their work plan; no extensions will be granted. 

All applicants are required to provide a detailed budget with justification for the amount requested using the template provided below. We have not set a specific amount for each grant because we are asking you to consider what you'll need to do this type of reporting. We do ask that the budgets be reasonable and account for costs necessary for reporting, such as travel and accommodation. We expect that stories will be produced with equipment applicants already have access to (including cameras, drones, lighting, tripods, etc.) and will not consider budgets that heavily focus on procuring new supplies or devote a large amount to applicants’ stipends. 

We encourage reporters to follow best practices for Covid-19 when out in the field so you do not endanger yourself or the people you’re interviewing. If needed, you should include any Covid-related costs, such as tests or personal protective equipment, in your budget.  

Those who are awarded grants are free to publish or broadcast their stories first in their affiliated media provided that the story runs with acknowledgement of Internews’ EJN support. Internews EJN and the grant funder, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), have the right to edit, publish, broadcast and distribute stories freely.

Freelance reporters should outline their plan for publication or broadcast, and all applicants are encouraged to provide a letter of interest from their editor, committing to publish the story before 15 December 2021.

Judging criteria 

Applicants should consider the following points when devising their story proposals. 

  • Relevance: Does the proposal meet the criteria and objectives of the call? Why does this story matter and to whom? Is the main idea, context and overall value to the target audience clearly defined? 
  • Angle: If the story has been covered, does your proposal bring new insights to the topic or offer a fresh angle? 
  • Impact: Does the proposal have a compelling narrative or investigative element that will inform and engage, draw attention, trigger debate and urge action? 
  • Innovative storytelling: The use of creative approaches, multimedia and data visualization will be considered a plus. 


Application process 

  1. Click the 'Apply now' button at the top of the page. 
  2. If you have an existing account, you'll need to log in. If not, you must register for an account by clicking "Join the Network" on the top right of the page. 
  3. If you start the application and want to come back and complete it later, you can click 'Save Draft.' To return to the draft, you'll need to go back to the opportunity and click 'Apply now' again to finalize the application. 
  4. Applications should provide a detailed budget with justification for the amount requested. Download the budget template here. We expect that proposals will largely rely on the use of equipment the applicant already has access to (including cameras, drones, lighting, tripods, etc.) and will not consider budgets that heavily focus on procuring new supplies. We will consider some costs for the reporters’ salary, particularly if the applicant is a freelancer, but this should be a small portion of the total budget. Please include the cost for translation, if necessary. Please also note on your budget form if you are receiving funding from any other donors for the story. 
  5. You must submit two samples of stories or links to relevant work. You'll be asked to upload these as part of the application process.

If you encounter difficulties with submitting your application or have questions about the grants, please email [email protected]. Do not contact any other Internews email regarding this opportunity, as we will not receive it.  

Banner image: View from the top of Adam's Peak in Ella, Sri Lanka / Credit: Tom Nicholson via Unsplash

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