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Reporting on Marine Ecosystems and the Blue Economy in Belize

Call for Proposals

Published on
15 Nov 2022
20 January 2023, 11:59 PM, CST info.ejn [at] internews.org
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Internews’ Earth Journalism Network (EJN) is offering up to 10 reporting grants to journalists in Belize, to support the production of in-depth stories on the protection,  conservation and management of reef health and the advancement of a sustainable Blue Economy Agenda. 


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


Overview   

In 2021, the government of Belize committed to conserve 30% of its ocean and protect the Mesoamerican Reef (MAR), the biggest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere. This undertaking, part of the largest debt restructuring for marine conservation to date, could serve as a blueprint for coastal countries around the world.   

The ocean contributes around $3 trillion per year to global GDP, and it is hoped that blue bonds such as this will help maintain marine biodiversity and shore up a robust blue economy. According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs while preserving the health of the ocean ecosystem."  

At this juncture, accurate and engaging media coverage will be crucial to inform the public and hold policymakers involved in marine resource management accountable for their commitments. Internews’ Earth Journalism Network is pleased to award  10 story grants of ~ USD 1,400 each to Belizean journalists to improve the quality and quantity of reporting on the environmental health of the MAR and the country’s progress towards shoring up a blue economy. In addition to funding, selected journalists will receive support from experienced mentors through the story production process. Mentors will provide guidance, feedback and edits to the story before publication.   

These story grants are made possible with support from The Summit Foundation. 

Story themes   

We aim to support the production of ~10 stories that raise awareness about the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth in Belize, and initiatives to improve livelihoods and jobs while preserving the health of the ocean ecosystem. 

 Examples of stories we are interested in supporting include (but are not limited to):   

  • How can a Blue Economy help to achieve SDG14, without undermining other goals of the 2030 Agenda at the same time? 
  • What role do science and innovation play in achieving a Blue Economy in Belize? 
  • What are the challenges in monitoring and regulating marine protected areas in Belize, and in what ways are these challenges best overcome on the ground? 
  • How is the country ensuring the use of its marine resources is sustainable? 
  • What does Blue Economy mean for coastal and local communities, and how can they be involved in supporting the transition toward it in Belize? 
  • What aspects of Blue Carbon are promising for Belize? What aspects are less promising? 
  • Policies and strategies to enable sustainable coastal development and reef management. 
  • The effects of climate change, tourism development and environmental degradation on the Mesoamerican Reef (MAR) and coastal communities. 
  • Success stories and gaps in Belize’s Blue Economy: what is working? What needs improvement? 
  • How is Blue Economy linked to disaster risk management and how this would be addressed in Belize? 
  • Collaborative efforts by governments, organizations and decision-makers that  support the transition toward a Blue Economy.  

 

We encourage stories that report on potential solutions and highlight how vulnerable communities are responding to climate change, tourism development and environmental degradation on marine ecosystems.  

Issues that have already received a lot of media coverage or don't provide fresh angles are less likely to be selected.    

Collaboration with local outlets 

In recognition of the increasingly changing landscape of journalism, EJN is eager to work with Belizean reporters on a collaborative journalism project as part of this story grant call for individual journalists to report on the Blue Economy. 

Shortly after being selected, grantees who have noted their interest in collaboration on their application form will meet with EJN’s special project coordinator where details of the effort will be outlined further. Journalists and outlets can expect to be asked to share content with other partners who’ve opted in, as well as agree to a common editing process, which may include embargo dates and joint publishing schedules. (For more on the benefits of this approach, read this Medium post.) 

A small sample of potential collaborative story ideas on this subject include: 

  • Outlets teaming up to cover different aspects of “blue carbon,” (for example, reefs, mangroves and seagrasses) with different outlets exploring different ecosystems that are part of this aspect of climate mitigation. What aspects are promising or less promising for Belize? 
  • Outlets collaborating on what’s working and what needs to improve in Belize’s current blue economy.  
  • Different outlets tracking the value chain of certain sustainable fisheries from start to finish. Are there certain fisheries that are big contributors and more sustainable in Belize’s Blue Economy? Others less so? What links in the value chain are the real problem? 
  • While we are not able to provide additional funding for journalists and media outlets who choose to be a part of the collaborative project, stories will be amplified on a project page on the EJN website, with a communications campaign tailored to promote it. 
  • You will also receive editorial support from EJN staff with experience in journalistic collaborations, the development of a peer network that may be leveraged for future projects and funding, and support with data analysis and visualization. 

 

Eligibility   

Journalists from Belize are welcome to apply. We especially invite applicants who identify as:  

  • Women  
  • LGBTQIA+  
  • Ethnic/Cultural/religious minorities   
  • Indigenous peoples   
  • Persons with physical challenges and/or cognitive impairments  
     

Groups of journalists, including from different countries, who wish to submit a joint application 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 accept 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, multimedia). We welcome applications from early-career journalists and experienced reporters with a track record 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 grants by February 2023 with the expectation that all stories will be published by July 1, 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.   

We will consider larger grant amounts for stories using innovative 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 that will inform and engage, draw attention, trigger debate and spur action?   
  • Innovative storytelling: We are especially interested in supporting journalists eager to explore more innovative ways of storytelling. 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 July 1, 2023. 

 

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:  A barracuda in Caye Caulker, Belize /Credit: Wouter Naert via Unsplash. 

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