Mittwoch, 25.11.2020 21:23 Uhr

In Seymour Hersh’s footsteps: New Investigative grants

Verantwortlicher Autor: Jochen Raffelberg Washington, 31.07.2020, 16:42 Uhr
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Washington [ENA] A US donor that once supported reporter Seymour Hersh breaking the My Lai massacre story in Vietnam invites investigative journalists to apply for reporting grants of up to US$10,000. Deadline for submissions is 14 September. The awards, sponsored by the Fund for Investigative Journalism (FIJ), will assist investigative projects that expose corruption, malfeasance or misuse of power in the public and private sectors.

The maximum award is US$10,000, which should cover out-of-pocket expenses such as travel costs, document collection and equipment rental. The first half of the grant is given once an application is approved and the second half is paid when the project is complete. Proposals must come from U.S.-based reporters or international journalists whose stories have a U.S. angle, involving American citizens, government or businesses. Stories must be published in English. The Fund also considers requests for small stipends, as part of the budget. FIJ also provides mentors to a select number of grant recipients that should be applied for during the grant application process.

FIJ says it operates the mentoring program with seed funding from the Scripps Howard Foundation and encourage applications for writing mentors, even for seasoned reporters. The fund looks for stories that break new ground and expose wrongdoing in the public and private sectors. The Fund encourages proposals written for ethnic media and submitted by journalists of color. It is Fund policy to pay the first half of approved grants to successful applicants, with the second half of the grant paid on evidence of publication of a finished project in accordance with the original proposal. Second half grants are not guaranteed if projects are not completed in a timely fashion.

FIJ’s Board of Directors will review and vote on all eligible proposals; some six weeks after the application deadline has passed, applicants will be notified by email of the board’s decision. The FIJ was founded in 1969 by the late philanthropist Philip M. Stern. During the fund’s first year a small grant of US$250 enabled reporter Seymour Hersh to begin investigating a tip concerning a U.S. Army massacre at the Vietnamese village of My Lai. A subsequent grant of US$2,000 allowed Hersh to finish reporting the story. Over five decades, the Washington-based FIJ has awarded more than US$4.5 million in grants to freelance reporters, authors and small publications.

Another US organization, the Alfred Friendly Press and the Trace Foundation, offers a fellowship that focuses on worldwide investigative journalism. Reporters proficient in English can apply for this program in the United States. The program begins with a three-week orientation and training seminar at the Missouri School of Journalism in Columbia. Topics include ethics, writing, editing, multimedia reporting, investigative reporting and data journalism. Fellows then join one or more major U.S. media outlets for five months, followed by a final seminar in Washington. The fellowship covers all costs of program-related international and domestic U.S. travel, health insurance and provides a monthly stipend to cover basic living expenses.

However, the foundation recommends that fellows bring additional money with them. The fellowship program was conceived by Alfred Friendly, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and former managing editor of The Washington Post. Since 1984 the Alfred Friendly Press Partners has trained more than 320 journalists from 80+ countries and placed them in nearly 70 newsrooms. Program goals include experience in reporting, writing, editing, producing and editorial decision-making; exposing fellows to the technological changes in the industry and transferring knowledge gained on the program to colleagues at home.

The foundation also awards the Trace Prize for Investigative Reporting, which recognizes journalism that uncovers business-related bribery and financial crime with the goal of increasing commercial transparency and good governance. Nominees may be print, broadcast or online reporters from any country who have investigated commercial bribery schemes, business activities that create serious conflicts of interest or similar commercial misconduct. Team entries and multiple submissions per author are permitted. Trace will begin accepting entries for the 2021 Prize for Investigative Reporting in the fall. A panel of independent judges will select up to two winners, who will each receive a cash prize of US$10,000.

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