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Clean Air Catalyst Story Grants 2022: Reporting on Air Pollution in Madhya Pradesh, India

Call for Proposals
Published on
14 Jun 2022
traffic at night
19 July 2022, 10:29 AM, Asia/Kolkata IST (Extended Deadline) info.ejn [at]

Call for proposals available in: Hindi

Translated application form available in: Hindi


Internews’ Earth Journalism Network (EJN) invites journalists from India to apply for a story grant to report on air pollution in Madhya Pradesh.  

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


Air pollution is one of the biggest challenges in India and across the world, posing serious threats to human health, economy, and the environment.  

Indore, Madhya Pradesh, lauded for its successful solid waste management campaign and declared the cleanest city of India for successive years, fails to have made similar progress when it comes to clean air.   

According to a recent report produced by the World Resources Institute and Environmental Defense Fund, “PM2.5 annual averages measured in 2019 at the three manual monitoring sites in Indore (based on measurements made approximately every third day) are all between 36–39 µg/m3.” 

India’s Central Pollution Control Board found Indore fell short of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for over five years, from 2011 to 2015.  

Across India and the globe, pollution issues have caught the attention of the public, policymakers, and researchers, but there remains a lack of understanding of this complex issue and consensus on how to address it.  

The media – and more specifically, environmental journalism – is critical in shaping public perception as well as policies around air pollution. Media outlets can help foster community-level dialogue, bring about behavioral change and present reliable and robust information to inform policy. 

To help meet this need, Internews’ Earth Journalism Network has joined Clean Air Catalyst, the U.S Agency for International Development’s (USAID) flagship program led by the World Resources Institute and Environmental Defense Fund to accelerate clean air solutions by working with communities around the world to identify and raise awareness of local pollution sources, and to build focused coalitions which deliver interventions leading to cleaner, healthier air. The five-year program will build capacity for tailored, self-reliant solutions that reduce air pollution and improve human health in developing countries. Indore is one of the three cities where the project is being piloted. 

As part of this project, EJN is offering story grants and mentorship to journalists in Madhya Pradesh to improve the quality and quantity of coverage of this issue.   

Story Themes 

We welcome story ideas that focus on air pollution, especially in Indore and surrounding areas and the threats it poses to local populations. 

Journalists may explore the impacts of air pollution on local environment, the economy, health and development, among other topics. We welcome solutions-driven story pitches that focus on actions to reduce the level of air pollution and improve the quality of air in the state. 

We are particularly interested in story ideas that aim to report on air pollution in a gender-sensitive manner and ideas that center on gender issues, especially in communities that are highly vulnerable to air pollution. Ideas that have already received a lot of media coverage or don't include gender perspectives to air pollution challenges are less likely to be selected.  

We aim to support the production of stories that raise awareness about air pollution among communities and policymakers at the local, national, and regional level.  


Applicants can be from anywhere in India; applicants from Madhya Pradesh are preferred. Journalists who had previously participated in the Clean Air Catalyst media training workshop held in Indore in May 2022 will be given preference.  

Groups of journalists are eligible. However, the application must be made in the name of one lead applicant. Lead applicants are responsible for communicating with EJN and receiving funds on the group’s behalf, if awarded.  

For the purposes of this grant opportunity, we will be accepting applications in English and Hindi. Selected grantees can produce stories in English or Hindi.  

Applications are open to journalists working in any medium (online, print, television, radio) and other expert media practitioners with professional reporting experience. We welcome applications from early-career journalists and experienced reporters with a track record of covering air pollution. We encourage applications from freelance reporters and staff from all types of media organizations – international, national, local and community-based. 

EJN reserves the right to disqualify applicants from consideration if they have been found to have engaged in unethical or improper professional conduct. 

Story logistics 

We expect to award up to 14 grants with an average budget of $1000 each.  

We plan to issue grants in July with the expectation that all stories will be published by the end of September at the latest. Applicants should consider this timeline when drafting their workplan. 

Safety: We encourage reporters to follow best practices for Covid-19 while reporting. If needed, you should include any Covid-related costs, such as tests or personal protective equipment, in your budget.  

Language of publication: Stories can be produced in English or Hindi. However, applicants who intend to write or produce stories in Hindi need to provide EJN with an English translation of the story in summary or its entirety. Please include the cost for translation in the budget, if necessary. 

Story budget: All applicants are required to provide a detailed budget with justification for the amount requested using the template provided below. We ask that the budgets be reasonable and account for costs necessary for reporting, such as travel and accommodation.  

Generally speaking, applications with smaller budgets will be more competitive, but we will consider larger grant amounts for stories using innovative, collaborative or investigative approaches that may be more resource-intensive and time-consuming. 

We expect that proposals will largely reflect what equipment the applicant already has access to (including cameras, drones, lighting, tripods, etc.) and will not consider budgets that heavily focus on procuring new equipment.  

We will consider a stipend for the reporters’ salary, particularly if the applicant is a freelancer. Please estimate the time you’ll need to complete this story and propose compensation you believe reflects a fair market rate. We ask, however, that this comprises no more than 30% of the total budget.  

Acknowledgement of EJN support: Published stories and/or broadcasts must disclose EJN support by including this tagline: “This story was produced with support from Internews’ Earth Journalism Network.” 

Republication rights: Those who are awarded grants are free to publish or broadcast their stories first in their affiliated media as long as Internews’ EJN, the Clean Air Catalyst project and the grant funder, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), are also given rights to edit, publish, broadcast and distribute them freely. 

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 spur action? 
  • Innovative storytelling: The use of creative approaches, multimedia and data visualization will be considered a plus. 
  • Plan for timely publication: Reporters, whether freelance or employed at a media outlet, will need to include a letter of support from an editor in their application, committing to publish the stories by the end of September.  

Application process 

  • Click the 'Apply now' button at the top of the page. 
  • If you have an existing account, you'll need to log in. Since we recently updated our website, you might have to reset your password by clicking the “Forgot password?” link in the log in page. If you don’t have an account, you must register by clicking “Log in” on the top right of the page and click the “Sign up” link at the bottom of the page that opens. Click here for detailed instructions on how to create an account, and here for detailed instructions on how to reset your password. 
  • 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. 
  • Applications should provide a detailed budget in an Excel spreadsheet with justification for the amount requested. Download the budget template now by clicking on this link.  
  • All applicants are required to provide a signed letter of support from their editor, explicitly stating that the media outlet will publish the stories produced as a result of this grant. 
  • Applicants will also need to submit two samples of stories or links to relevant work.  

Note: You'll be asked to upload these supporting documents once you start the application process, so please have them handy.  

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.  

Applications submitted after the deadline will not be considered. Please consider submitting at least one day in advance of the deadline to avoid any issues. 



The Clean Air Catalyst (Catalyst) is a flagship program launched by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and led by a global partnership of organizations including World Resources Institute and Environmental Defense Fund and Internews. 

Banner image: Traffic on Mahatma Gandhi Road as seen from the foot overbridge in front of Treasure Island Mall, Indore / Credit: Prateek Karandikar via Wikimedia Commons.  

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