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Mekong Data Journalism Fellowship 2021, Round Two

Call for Applications

Published on
27 May 2021
27 June 2021, 11:59 PM, (UTC +07) info.ejn [at] internews.org
The East-West Center and Internews’ Earth Journalism Network, in partnership with the Stimson Center, are pleased to launch a second and final round of fellowships to journalists from Mekong  countries. The fellowship provides fellows with the opportunity to develop data journalism skills and support data-driven investigations into water security challenges and solutions in the Mekong region.   

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

Overview   

Launched in early 2021, the Mekong Data Journalism Fellowship is an eight-month program providing journalists skills they need to turn data into powerful news stories that reflect the threats and potential solutions facing the Mekong River and 70 million people it supports.   

Two rounds of the fellowships are offered to journalists based in the Mekong River Basin, which covers Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. Round Two fellows will be selected from journalists who apply to this call for applications. Learn more about Round One Fellows here. If you applied last time and were not selected, we strongly encourage you to try again this time. For Round Two, 20 journalists will be selected  to explore water security issues along the Mekong River Basin.    

Over the course of four months, Fellows will learn how to find, scrape, clean and interview data as well as transform their findings into powerful human interest stories. These stories will raise awareness of water security challenges, such as hydropower plant development, and potential solutions in the Mekong region.     

Selected Fellows will join a series of virtual seminars with experts in fields such as water management and geopolitics, attend a part-time 40-hour face to face virtual data journalism training three days a week, complete 40-hours of video tutorials and assignment, and receive one-on-one mentorship support to produce a data-driven media story. Fellows will pitch stories based on topics aligned with the theme of this Fellowship. Exact dates and times of the trainings and seminars will be set later according to participating journalists’ schedules.   

Approach & Format   

The round-two Fellowship will take place from August to November 2021. We expect to name 20 Fellows with US$3,000 in individual grants to cover labour and story production.   

All Fellows will receive training and professional mentorship from Earth Journalism Network and East-West Center media experts to help them develop and implement their project successfully. They will also learn how to use the datasets available on the Stimson Center’s Mekong Infrastructure Tracker and Mekong Dams Monitor, online platforms that monitor development and their economic, ecological and social impacts.   

Fellows must commit to participating in the full length of the Fellowship program, which will include two days of virtual seminars and 40 hours of scheduled face-to-face virtual data journalism training. They will be required to undertake assignments and self-study through pre-recorded video tutorials and assignments, which will require up to an additional 40 hours separate from the live training sessions.   

Language & Language Support 

Our data journalism training will be offered in two different language options. The English-language training (with Burmese language support option) will be led by Thibi, a Singapore-based data and design consultancy with experience in supporting data storytelling in newsrooms across Southeast Asia. The Khmer-language training will be led by Open Development Cambodia, an organization leading open data platform in Cambodia and striving to ensure public access to information and improving the data ecosystem. Internews Data Journalism Advisor, Eva Constantaras, will provide overall support to both trainings. 

Story Mentoring & Production 

Once participants have completed the training portion of the Fellowship, Fellows will pitch a data-driven story idea to the trainers and mentors who will then guide them through the step-by-step story production process that Fellows have learned during the training program. The mentors who will support this fellowship are senior journalists Charles Dharapak and Jeff Hodson. Fellows will also be provided with technical support to create graphics and data visualizations that they can use in their stories.   

Stories can be produced in any language. However, applicants who intend to produce stories in languages other than English will need provide their mentor with an English translation of the draft and final story. Fellows are expected to cover the cost of translation using funds from their grant.   

We encourage the inclusion of multimedia and other new or unique communication platforms that will increase the impact of the project.    

Fellows are free to publish or broadcast their stories first in their affiliated media, as long as EJN and the East-West Center are also given rights to edit, publish, broadcast and distribute them freely. Freelance reporters should demonstrate a plan for publication or broadcast.   

Short-listed applicants will be interviewed prior to awarding of the Fellowships. Selected Fellows must provide a letter of support from their editors/supervisors for this commitment as well as support for the publishing/broadcasting of the stories produced.  

Eligibility   

  • Applicants must be nationals of one of the following countries: Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand or Vietnam.    

  • As the data journalism training courses will be conducted in English (with Burmese language support) or Khmer, applicants can select which language option training they want to join in the application form. They must be proficient in the language taught in the course and have some basic English skill to understand some English-language training materials that will be provided during the course. We will only be accepting applications in English, Burmese or Khmer language.   

  • We are seeking journalists (online, print, television, radio, multimedia) and other expert media practitioners with 2-3 years of journalism experience, preferably including reporting on environmental issues in the Mekong region and with an interest in applying data journalism in their work. We do not require applicants to have prior data journalism experience.   

  • We encourage applications from freelancers and staff of all types of media organizations – international, national, local and community-based. Freelance journalists will need to guarantee publication/broadcast and should identify the media outlet(s) through which they plan to distribute their stories.    

What we ask   

  • Applicants must commit to joining 2 days of virtual seminars; one will be held prior to the launch of the training at the end of July, another in the middle of the training period.   

  • Applicants must commit to participating in 40 hours of live data journalism training in addition to completing up to 20 hours of video tutorials and up to 20 hours of assignments. The trainings will be held between August and mid-September, with three hour class sessions two to three times a week. Stories are expected to be published before the end of November.   

  • We require production and publication of data-driven content following the training. We expect each Fellow to produce at least one in-depth story in any format (print, online, audio, broadcast).   

  • Fellows may be asked to use datasets from the Mekong Infrastructure Tracker and Mekong Dam Monitor to produce their data-driven stories.    

What you will get in return   

  • US$3000 per fellow to compensate for your time and cover story production and any costs related to the training or reporting. Fellows will receive the grant in instalments and will need to manage spending themselves.   

  • Virtual, interactive seminars with global and regional experts on water security issues and river management and their impact on the environment and local communities.   

  • Free 40-hour live data journalism training and up to 40 hours of video tutorials and self-study materials. Each class will proceed from the one before so selected Fellows will need to commit to join each one. Fellows will be required to spend time outside the training hours to complete assignments and self-study.    

  • One-on-one mentorship from a senior journalist throughout the story production process.   

  • Opportunity to network with regional journalists and experts and build up source lists.   

How editors and media outlets will benefit   

  • A staff reporter data journalism skills, knowledge of Mekong river sustainability and access to credible sources.    

  • At least one in-depth data-driven story on Mekong river sustainability, including interactive graphics.   

  • A region-wide, transboundary, collaborative special reporting project with the potential for content sharing.   

  • Support for distribution and story promotion through the partnering organizations.   

NOTE: This Fellowship requires participants to commit a considerable amount of time throughout the training. If you find it difficult to convince your supervisor to let you apply for the Fellowship, we can help by contacting your supervisor to explain the benefits of the program.   

Selection Criteria   

A team of judges consisting of staff from the Earth Journalism Network and the East-West Center will review the applications and select the Fellows based on the quality of the application, eligibility and demonstration of interest and commitment to the Fellowship.    

When applying, keep in mind that we are looking for applicants who are:   

  • Passionate storytellers   

  • Curious about data   

  • Can examine an issue from multiple angles   

  • Committed to telling public interest stories   

  • Have a clear idea of an environmental issue they want to cover with data   

  • Open to working together with a diverse team of data experts, designers and editors to tell stories   

  • NO previous data journalism experience is required. 

 Application Process   

  1. Click the 'Apply now' button at the top of the page.   

  1. 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.   

  1. 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 finalise the application.   

  1. You must submit two samples of stories or links to relevant work. You'll be asked to upload these once you start the application process so please get them ready beforehand.   

Applications submitted after the deadline will not be considered.   

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

Banner image by Hannah Wright on Unsplash

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