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Media Grants to Strengthen Infrastructure Reporting in Southeast Asia

rooftops with cranes
Application Deadline
9 June 2024, 11:59 PM (Asia/Manila)

Are you a media outlet based in Southeast Asia interested in boosting media coverage on infrastructure development?  

Internews Earth Journalism Network (EJN) is offering two media grants averaging $20,000 per grant to support media and journalism activities to strengthen reporting on infrastructure development and public engagement on infrastructure debates.   

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


Overview 

Strengthening Transparency in Infrastructure Development Through Environmental Reporting in Southeast Asia (STRIDES) is a two-year project supported by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor that supports environmental reporting on infrastructure development and its impacts. The media grants are part of STRIDES’ efforts to strengthen infrastructure media reporting and public awareness, and improve the sustainability and accountability of infrastructure projects. 

Southeast Asia (SEA) is set to become the world’s fourth largest economy by 2030. To sustain economic growth, the Asian Development Bank estimates that the region needs to invest $60 billion per year upgrading its infrastructure and many SEA countries plan to rapidly expand investments.  

While many of these infrastructure projects are crucial for societal development and the delivery of public services, the lack of adequate governance for infrastructure development has also led to and exacerbated environmental issues such as unchecked urban sprawl and severe environmental degradation. Further, the rush to expand infrastructure puts the rights of marginalized groups (including women, children/youth, Indigenous populations, migrants, rural populations, etc.) at high risk as they often depend on natural resources for their livelihoods and/or are more vulnerable to the loss of such resources that may result from these projects through resource extraction or destruction.  

Inadequate regulation, enforcement, and transparency from governments and developers alike means that these most affected groups are often not even aware of infrastructure projects until they have broken ground, nor do they have a voice in mitigating the impacts on their environments, health, and/or livelihoods.  

In Cambodia, for example, the Tonle Sap Lake has been under pressure from the combined effects of climate change, a growing population and infrastructure development. The decline in water quality has impacted villagers in multiple ways, from lowering incomes from the fishery sector to poor sanitation and health. 

In Timor-Leste, the Tasi Mane project, which resumed in 2023, will form the backbone of the Timor-Leste petroleum industry, bringing with it economic benefits and infrastructure development. To do so, however, the government has purchased land previously used for raising cattle, docks for fishermen, and salt farms. For those displaced, compensation and opportunities to relocate and maintain their livelihoods have been inconsistent. 


Project themes and objectives  

We welcome activities that seek to improve media content and/or build the capacity of journalists and public content producers to report on infrastructure development and the subsequent threats to the environment and human rights.  

We expect these activities to increase public awareness and engagement on infrastructure development debates and advocacy, including among marginalized groups disproportionately impacted by such development. 

Examples of activities that can be supported include, but are not limited to: 

  • Training workshops and/or reporting field trips that bring journalists and content producers together with experts on infrastructure development and environmental impacts; 

  • Development of resources, such as virtual learning courses or innovative tools for reporters to conduct media investigations; 

  • Reporting grants for journalists and content producers; 

  • Mentoring of journalists and content producers; 

  • Investigative and/or collaborative infrastructure media reporting projects with a local, national or regional focus; 

  • Cross-sectoral collaborations and knowledge exchange between journalists, information providers and other key actors, such as researchers and governmental bodies; 

  • Partnership and network building for environmental reporting, such as the formation of an journalists’ network or an investigative environmental reporting partnership focusing on infrastructure; 

  • Transboundary media reporting and content sharing among media/information outlets based in different localities or countries; 

  • Open data platform that tracks infrastructure development and projects, and provides analysis from the data collected. 


Proposals that focus on topics or stories that have not been widely covered in the media and are likely to drive conversation among communities and policymakers are preferred. Issues that have already received a lot of media coverage or broad-based ideas that don’t provide unique insights are less likely to be selected.   


Grant amount and logistics  

We anticipate supporting two media outlets with an average funding amount of $20,000 each. In general, proposals with smaller budgets will be more competitive. Larger grant amounts may be considered for projects that use innovative approaches and may be more resource- and time-consuming. 

We expect to notify successful applicants in June 2024, with work starting in August 2024. Projects should be completed within 12 months, by the end of July 2025. Applicants should consider this timeline when developing their work plan. 

All applicants must provide a detailed budget with justification for the requested amount as part of their application using the template linked below. We ask that the budgets be reasonable and account for the costs necessary for project implementation. Applicants can use a portion of the grants to purchase equipment but should clearly state how the equipment will contribute to the expected outcomes and outputs. The cost of equipment should also make up a relatively small proportion of the overall budget. 

Grantees will be asked to outline their monitoring and evaluation plan in their application and should budget accordingly for monitoring and evaluation activities. The final monitoring and evaluation plan will be agreed upon by EJN and each grantee. They are also expected to give their full cooperation to EJN for the monitoring and evaluation of the results of the project. 

Applicants are permitted and encouraged to raise co-financing for the proposed activities, but it is not required. If you have received any co-financing, please indicate the amount and the source in your application.  

For projects that involve publishing stories or other material, please note that Internews, EJN, its partners, and the grant funder will be given rights to edit, publish, broadcast, and distribute those materials freely. 

Acknowledgement of EJN support: Published stories, training resources and/or broadcasts must disclose EJN support by including this tagline: “This ___ was produced with support from Internews’ Earth Journalism Network.” Exceptions can be made for security reasons. 


Eligibility 

Media outlets from Brunei, Cambodia, Timor-Leste, Laos, Singapore and Thailand are welcome to apply.   

Applicants must:   

  • Be a registered media outlet based in any of the above-listed Southeast Asia countries and eligible to receive international funding.  

  • Have previous experience conducting capacity-building activities for journalists;  

  • Understand and be able to communicate in English. For the purposes of this funding 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. 

  • Permit republication by Internews EJN of any output as a result of the media grant.    


Former EJN grantees are eligible to apply. However, we will prioritize new grantees, and will take the performance of  previous grantees into consideration during the selection. Please note, this opportunity is for media outlets only. 

Applicants can produce stories and training resources in local languages suitable for target communities. But all stories should also be available in English. Project budget can be used toward local or English translations as needed.  

Applicants are required to be transparent about the use of generative AI tools, if any, in the development of their proposals. EJN reserves the right to disqualify applicants from consideration if they have been found to have engaged in unethical or improper professional conduct, including, but not limited to, plagiarism and submitting AI-generated content as their own.  


Judging criteria  

All applications we receive are reviewed and discussed by a panel of international judges, comprising Internews staff and experts in environmental journalism.  

Applications will be evaluated using the following assessment criteria:  

  • The overall quality of the proposal; 
  • The relevance of the proposed project to the objectives and priorities of this grant program and the STRIDES project goals; 
  • The emphasis in the proposal on infrastructure development’s environmental impact in the country or region; 
  • The potential impact of the proposed project, including the quality and effectiveness of the project design;
  • The innovativeness of the proposed activities;
  • The financial viability and cost-effectiveness of the proposed project;
  • The ability of the applicant to carry it out;
  • The geographical spread of the grantees.   

Banner image: Construction activity in Singapore is booming, with both infrastructure and private residential projects seeing a surge in investment / Credit: Pxhere.