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Ocean Story Grants 2021

Call for Proposals
Published on
12 Feb 2021
Fish swimming in a coral reef
13 March 2021, 02:59 AM, Pacific/Niue (UTC -11) info.ejn [at]

EJN is offering reporting grants to support the production of investigative stories that will call attention to critical ocean issues.

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


The world relies on the oceans to support the needs of our growing population, whether those needs be sustenance, economic growth, climate regulation or even the air we breathe. Yet this incredibly important but fragile resource is suffering unsustainable depletion, environmental deterioration and acidification, affecting the communities that rely on it and bringing us closer to climate catastrophe.

The targets outlined in UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14: Life Below Water, aim to restore ocean resources to sustainable use, place vulnerable habitats under protection, and return the ocean’s full efficiency as a valuable carbon sink. But are we reaching these targets quickly enough to allow us to use marine resources sustainably for years to come? And how has the Covid-19 pandemic affected our progress towards these goals?

Through this reporting grant, EJN will commission stories that seek to investigate emerging and long-standing issues facing ocean conservation and sustainable use to capture the importance and urgency of the threats facing our world’s waters.

These grants are part of a larger project being carried out by EJN to try and increase and improve reporting on ocean issues, and are made possible with support from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch). Please see our Ocean Media Initiative webpage for more information.

Story Themes

We welcome any story ideas that will investigate threats to the conservation or sustainable use of the oceans.

Before submitting your application, we suggest applicants review Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life Below Water. The targets under this SDG highlight some of the most pressing issues facing the oceans, including marine pollution, ocean acidification and overfishing. We will give special consideration to pitches that relate to one or more of these targets, as well as to proposals that will examine intersections between the Covid-19 pandemic and ocean conservation.

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 ocean challenges are less likely to be selected.


For the purposes of this grant opportunity, we will be accepting applications in both English and Portuguese. Applications written in a language other than these will not be considered. Applicants must either have a working understanding of English or Portuguese, or have a translator available to assist with communication with Internews staff. Writing samples can be in any language, but will be subject to machine translation for judging.  

Applications are open to journalists working in any medium (online, print, television, radio) and other expert media practitioners with experience in investigative reporting and covering environmental issues. We encourage applications from freelancer reporters and staff from all types of media organizations - international, national, local and community-based.

We are seeking to support both early-career and senior journalists with many years of reporting experience. 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 4-6 grants ranging from $1,000 to $2,000, 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.

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’ salaries.

Stories can be produced in any language. 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.

Those who are awarded grants are free to publish or broadcast their stories first in their affiliated media as long as EJN and the grant funder, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, are also given rights to edit, publish, broadcast and distribute them freely. Freelance reporters should demonstrate a plan for publication or broadcast, and all applicants are encouraged to provide a letter of interest from their editor.

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 visualisation 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 finalise the application.
  4. Applications should provide a detailed budget with justification for the amount requested. Download the budget template now by clicking on this link. We expect that proposals will largely reflect what equipment the applicant already had 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 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.


Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash

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