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Mekong Data Journalism Fellowship 2021

Call for Applications

Published on
16 Feb 2021
7 March 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 jointly offering Fellowships to journalists from Mekong Basin countries that aim to strengthen their 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. To get a better sense of how the Fellowship will operate and whether you qualify,
please read our FAQ here.

Overview 

The Fellowship will provide selected Fellows the opportunity to gain an increased understanding of issues related to water security along the Mekong River Basin, which covers Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. Over the course of four months, Fellows will learn how to find open-source data and use it to produce revelatory, relevant media stories that 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, attend an intensive, 80-hour data journalism training and receive one-on-one mentorship support to produce a data-driven media story they will pitch 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 

We expect to award 10 Fellows with US$3,000 in individual grants to offset their time for participating in the Fellowship and the costs for 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. All activities will be conducted in English. 

The Fellowship will take place from late March to July 2021, including the period for story production. 

Applicants must commit to participating in the full length of the Fellowship program, which will include two full days of virtual seminars and 80 hours of data journalism training. 

Once they’ve completed the training portion of the Fellowship, selected Fellows will use the datasets available on the Stimson Center’s Mekong Infrastructure Tracker and/or Mekong Dams Monitor, online platforms that monitor development and their economic, ecological and social impacts, to pitch a data-driven story to the trainers and mentors who will then guide them through the story production process. They will also be provided with 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 money 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 a national from one of the following countries: Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand or Vietnam.  
  • As the Fellowship will be conducted in English, applicants must be proficient in the English language. We will only be accepting applications in English. 
  • We are seeking journalists (online, print, television, radio) 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 and basic understanding of how to use data in reporting. 
  • We encourage applications from freelancers and staff from all types of media organizations - international, national, local and community-based. Freelance journalists will need to guarantee publication and should identify the media outlet(s) through which they plan to distribute their stories.  

 

What we ask 

  • Applicants must commit to two days of virtual seminars and 80 hours in total of data journalism training. The trainings will be held sometime in April and May, with each class lasting 2 to 2.5 hours. The Fellowship will begin in late March and stories are expected to be published by the end of June. 
  • Production and publication of data-driven content following the training is required. We expect each Fellow to produce at least one in-depth story in any format (print, online, audio, broadcast). 
  • Fellows will be asked to utilize datasets from the Mekong Infrastructure Tracker and Mekong Dam Monitor to produce their data-driven stories.  

 

What you will get in return 

  • US$3000 to compensate for your time, 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, 80-hour data journalism training. Each class will proceed from the one before so selected Fellows will need to commit to join each one. 
  • One-on-one mentorship from a senior journalist throughout the story production process. 
  • Ability to network with regional journalists and experts and build up source lists. 

 

How editors and media outlets will benefit 

  • Through a reporter with long-term, in-house data journalism skills, knowledge of Mekong river sustainability and access to credible sources.  
  • With at least one in-depth data-driven story on Mekong river sustainability, including interactive graphics and visualizations. 
  • By becoming part of a region-wide, transboundary, collaborative special reporting project with the potential for content sharing. 
  • With 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. Please contact Paritta Wangkiat at [email protected] to discuss.

 

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 

 

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 finalise the application. 
  4. 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 [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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