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Ocean Media Initiative Story Grants 2023: Reporting on Marine Pollution

Call for Proposals
Published on
31 Jan 2023
plastic pollution at the surface of the sea viewed from underwater
28 February 2023, 03:59 PM, Pacific/Niue (UTC -11) info.ejn [at]
EJN is offering reporting grants to journalists worldwide to support the production of in-depth stories on the sources and impacts of different forms of marine pollution and solutions to curb them.

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


By 2050, it is expected there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans. Every year, over 1 million marine species (including mammals, fish, sharks, turtles, and seabirds) are killed due to plastic debris in the ocean. The ocean, already under stress from climate change, is the ultimate sink for many pollutants besides plastics (and increasingly, microplastics), including sewage, radioactive waste, industrial and agricultural chemicals such as pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides, and oil spills.

Other lesser-known threats include light, thermal and noise pollution – as coastal development and human activities such as shipping, military operations, desalination, mining and energy exploration underwater threatens the survival of marine species. The health of the ocean determines the health of the planet, however, marine conservation does not elicit the attention – and urgent action – it needs.

To fill this gap, EJN’s global Ocean Media Initiative, with support from the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, aims to increase the quality and quantity of ocean pollution-related stories in the media; and build the capacity of journalists to improve their coverage of this topic, and hold policymakers to account. 

EJN is pleased to offer ~8 story grants to selected journalists to report on the impacts of marine pollution in their region. In addition to funding, selected journalists will receive support from experienced mentors through the story production process. Interested applicants are also encouraged to join OceanNet, an online discussion group hosted by Internews’ Earth Journalism Network for journalists who report on ocean issues.

Story themes

We welcome story ideas that focus on marine pollution – its sources, impacts on ecosystems and marine species; and ongoing efforts to curb and regulate sources of marine pollution.

Journalists may explore the impacts of improper waste disposal, agricultural runoff, drilling for oil and gas, mining, shipping and other anthropogenic activities that are contributing to this crisis. Stories should highlight research and initiatives – either proposed or in effect – to curb the impacts of marine pollution. Solutions stories should explore policy and governance measures at the local, national and international level, while highlighting the challenges inherent to addressing these issues.

We aim to support the production of stories that raise awareness about marine pollution and drive conversation among communities and policymakers at the local, national, and regional level. We are particularly interested in cross-border collaborations and stories. 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 to environmental or climate challenges are less likely to be selected.


Applicants can be from any country in the world; applicants from coastal countries reporting on their home communities are preferred.

Please note that journalists who have already received an Ocean Media Initiative (High Seas) reporting grant from EJN in 2022 or who have an active grant as part of any EJN program are not eligible for this opportunity. Journalists who have received EJN support in the past are welcome to apply, and their past performance will be taken into account.

Groups of journalists are eligible, particularly from different countries seeking to produce a cross-border project. 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 only be accepting applications in English. Unfortunately, we do not have the capacity to consider applications in other languages at this time. Applicants must either have a working understanding of English or have a translator available to assist with communication with Internews staff.

Applications are open to journalists working in any medium (online, print, television, radio) and other expert media practitioners with professional reporting experience and a history of covering ocean issues. 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 plan to issue ~8 grants of approximately $1,200 each by late February 2023 with the expectation that all stories will be published by October 30, 2023 at the latest. Applicants should consider this timeline when drafting their work plan.  

Safety:  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.   

Language of publication:  Stories can be produced in any language. We encourage stories that are produced in local languages for local audiences. However, applicants who intend to write or produce stories in their local language need to also include an English translation. 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, accommodation, translation and data visualization.  

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 purchasing new equipment.   

We will consider a stipend for the reporters’ salary (not to exceed more than 30% of the total budget), particularly if the applicant is a freelancer. 

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, its partners and the grant funder 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 urge 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 or broadcast their stories by October 31, 2023. No extensions will be granted.

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 finalize 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. 

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.

Banner image: Plastic pollution in the ocean threatens the survival of marine species. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which has an estimated surface area of 1.6 million square kilometers, three times the size of France / Credit: Naja Bertolt Jensen via Unsplash.

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