Story Grants to Support Environmental Reporting from Asia-Pacific Island CountriesOverview In island countries (also known as island states or island nations) environmental threats, food- and water insecurity and socioeconomic challenges are amplified. Climate impacts, from typhoons to sea level rise, are an existential threat. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the reasons for this are manifold: low-lying coasts, relatively small land masses with limited natural resources, and exposure to extreme weather. Most island country economies –......
In island countries (also known as island states or island nations) environmental threats, food- and water insecurity and socioeconomic challenges are amplified. Climate impacts, from typhoons to sea level rise, are an existential threat. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the reasons for this are manifold: low-lying coasts, relatively small land masses with limited natural resources, and exposure to extreme weather.
Most island country economies – in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond – tend to depend heavily on extractive industries such as mining, logging and fishing, which, when unsustainably managed, drive biodiversity loss and damage fragile terrestrial and marine ecosystems.
Small and remote island countries are especially threatened by economic shocks as well, reliant as they are on external markets for imported goods and services such as tourism.
In this context, the sustainable management of natural resources, environmental conservation and climate resilience is particularly challenging. Journalists in island countries bear the responsibility of informing local audiences about the nature of these unique threats – and empowering them with the information they need to hold policymakers to account. Yet, stories from more vulnerable island countries are too often crowded out by mainstream media coverage from their continental counterparts across the region.
To fill this gap, EJN’s Asia-Pacific project, with support from Sida, is pleased to offer approximately 20 story grants to selected journalists based in island countries in Asia-Pacific seeking to produce in-depth stories on key environmental and climate issues – and solutions to address them. In addition to funding, selected journalists will receive support from experienced mentors through the story production process.
We welcome story ideas that include, but are not limited to:
- Island-specific impacts of the climate crisis on land and sea, from erosion to sea level rise to drought, typhoons, floods and climate debt
- Environmental degradation, biodiversity loss and food/water insecurity as a result of mining, deforestation, industrial agriculture, tourism, etc
- Ocean issues as a result of marine pollution, drilling for oil and gas, overfishing, shipping etc
- Health, livelihood and other impacts related to any of the above, especially on Indigenous groups, ethnic minorities, women, youth and other marginalized communities.
Stories should go beyond highlighting challenges and explore research, actions and initiatives – either proposed or in effect – to curb the impacts of these threats. Solutions stories that cover policy and governance measures at the local, national and international level, while highlighting the challenges inherent to addressing these issues, are preferred.
We aim to support the production of stories that raise awareness about key environmental and climate issues and drive conversation among communities and policymakers at the local, national, and regional level. We are particularly interested in cross-border collaborations and stories. 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 or climate challenges are less likely to be selected.
Applicants can be from the following island countries and territories in the Asia-Pacific region: Brunei, Cook Islands, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Indonesia, Japan, Kiribati, Maldives, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Timor-Leste, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. Journalists from low- and middle-income island countries will be prioritized.
For the purposes of this grant, we will not consider island story pitches from non-island nations and territories in the Asia-Pacific– e.g., Borneo in Malaysia, Hong Kong Island in Hong Kong, Lakshadweep in India, St Martin’s in Bangladesh, Phuket in Thailand, etc.
Groups of journalists are eligible, particularly from different countries seeking to produce a cross-border project. 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 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.
Applications are open to journalists working in any medium (online, print, television, radio) and other expert media practitioners with professional reporting experience and a history 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.
We plan to issue approximately 20 grants of up to $2,000 each by early May with the expectation that all stories will be published by October 31, 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.
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 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.” Exceptions may be considered on a case-by-case basis.
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.
Applicants should consider the following judging criteria 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 visualization will be considered a plus.
- Geographical diversity: Geographical distribution will be considered for the selection of grantees.
- 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 or broadcast their stories by October 31, 2023. No extensions will be granted.
- 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.