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Story Grant and Training Program for Indigenous Environmental Journalists 2024

Call for Applications
Published on
08 Dec 2023
Journalists photograph and interview an Indigenous protest at COP28
22 January 2024, 11:59 PM, Pacific/Niue (UTC -11) (Extended Deadline) info.ejn [at] internews.org

EJN is offering reporting grants to Indigenous journalists to support the production of in-depth environmental stories that call attention to climate justice, biodiversity, sustainable ecosystems, Indigenous sovereignty and leadership, and other issues related to the rights and well-being of Indigenous peoples and communities. 

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



Overview

Indigenous peoples persist and thrive with vibrant cultures, deep connections to lands and territories, and more than 4,000 unique languages spoken globally.

Indigenous lawyers and land defenders have also overseen some of the most powerful legal environmental battles and victories, from Waorani people defending swathes of Amazon rainforest and ancestral territory from oil development in Ecuador, to Masaai leaders inventing new legal mechanisms to protect Masaai lands in Tanzania, to Saami mobilization working to divest Norway from fossil fuels.

The stewardship of ecosystems, however, comes at a deep cost to Indigenous peoples and nations, who have faced historical and ongoing forms of colonization and dispossession. These battles continue today, with an estimated 34% of all lethal attacks on land defenders in 2022 carried out against Indigenous people. Indigenous sovereignty, land rights and safety are under threat by governments and corporations seeking to exploit natural resources, even as Indigenous communities bear the brunt of climate impacts and environmental degradation.

Despite the importance of Indigenous voices in environmental issues and reporting, there remains an indefensible lack of Indigenous representation and Indigenous-led platforms in the media. In Latin America, for instance, only 3% of people portrayed in the news are from Indigenous or tribal groups, despite making up at least 8% of the population. In the Asia-Pacific region, which is home to an estimated 70% of the world’s Indigenous populations, the UN reports that outlets “have so far failed to fully support the inclusive participation of Indigenous peoples.” And in the U.S., less than 1% of workers in newsrooms are Native.

To increase Indigenous representation in environmental reporting, EJN is launching a training program for 8 to 9 Indigenous journalists, with support from Nia Tero, looking to investigate and produce stories about these varied issues.

As part of the program, we’ll pair each journalist with an Indigenous journalist mentor, facilitate networking opportunities between experts and the selected journalists and offer a story grant up to $1,400 each. Selected journalists will also participate in two additional training opportunities: A synchronous, discussion-based online course on Indigenous journalism with access to the instructor and a one-day virtual workshop to deepen their storytelling skills and engage with subject-matter experts from around the world.

 

Story themes

We welcome story ideas from journalists who identify as Indigenous and/or belonging to a tribe (see the Eligibility section for more information on this) that explore how environmental and climate change issues are linked to the rights and well-being of Indigenous peoples and communities. We are particularly interested in stories that:

  • Explore environmental solutions and resiliency led by Indigenous Peoples;
  • Focus on sustainable resource use, Indigenous agriculture and traditional grazing and/or land management practices as a solution to address the climate, health and biodiversity crises;
  • Investigate land rights and environmental sovereignty, including historical precedent and legal frameworks;
  • Highlight the threats faced by Indigenous environmental defenders; and
  • Expose governments, corporations and other powerful actors who fail to meet commitments to include Indigenous Peoples or intentionally sideline them as leaders in decision-making around climate and environmental issues.

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 challenges are less likely to be selected.

 

Eligibility

Applicants must self-identify as Indigenous or belonging to a tribe and will be asked to provide details on their Indigenous or tribal affiliations in the application. EJN is utilizing the ILO Convention No. 169 as a baseline for eligibility and will seek to establish a diverse cohort from a wide range of Indigenous and tribal communities and nations.

Applicants can be from any country in the world.

Journalists who have previously received Indigenous Story Grants from EJN in 2021 and/or 2022 are eligible for this opportunity, but preference will be given to those who have not yet received support.

Journalists who are not Indigenous are not eligible for this opportunity; however, we will accept applications from pairings or teams of Indigenous and non-Indigenous journalists. In these cases, the Indigenous journalist must be the lead applicant, or the application will be disqualified. Lead applicants are responsible for communicating with EJN and receiving funds on the group’s behalf, if awarded. Please note non-Indigenous journalists are welcome as collaborators in the story grant but will not be eligible to participate in the other networking or training opportunities that are part of this program.

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 have a sufficient understanding of English to participate in the workshop, which will be held in English, and to take the course, which is available in both English and Spanish.

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

Please note: For this call, EJN invites applicants to pitch their story ideas in the form of a short video or a written proposal. You will have the ability to choose your preference in the application form.

 

Story approach & format

We expect to award between 8-9 grants with an average budget of $1,400 each. 

We plan to issue grants in March with the expectation that all stories will be published by October 31, 2024 at the latest. Applicants should consider this timeline when drafting their workplan.

Safety: Journalists reporting on these issues, particularly in territories facing conflict or government crackdowns, may face threats to their physical and digital safety. When developing a pitch for this program, applicants should carefully consider the tools they’ll need to ensure their own safety and security and that of their intended sources. Please include the necessary resources in the budget. Applicants should also seek to travel in groups, avoid conflict areas whenever possible and practice digital safety best practices at all times. This guide from Reporters Without Borders and these resources from the Thomson Reuters Foundation are useful aids for journalists developing security plans for reporting.

We also encourage reporters to follow best practices for Covid-19 and other infectious diseases when out in the field so you do not endanger yourself or the people you’re interviewing. If needed, you should include any public health-related costs, such as tests or personal protective equipment, in your budget.

Language of publication: Stories can be produced in any language. However, applicants who intend to write or produce stories in their local language need to also include a high-quality English translation approved by their assigned mentor. 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. We ask that the budgets be reasonable and account for costs necessary for reporting, such as travel and accommodation. Please also note on your budget form if you are receiving funding from any other donors for the story.

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, its partners and the grant funder, Nia Tero, 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?
  • Reach: Does the proposed media outlet have a wide reach? Journalists publishing their work at outlets that typically restrict content behind paywalls are encouraged to secure commitments to publish from additional outlets, or request an exception to ensure their EJN-supported story remains accessible to audiences.
  • 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 October 31, 2024. No extensions will be given.

 

Examples of robust Indigenous environmental journalism

 

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. 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.
  • 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.


Banner image: An Indigenous-led protest calling for climate action at COP28 in Dubai / Credit: Devon Terrill.

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