New Sources of Media Funding on the COVID-19 Pandemic

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The pressing need for good reporting during the COVID-19 pandemic has encouraged a growing list of donors to offer grants to journalists.

In addition, offers of aid to publishers are emerging in light of the increased financial pressures on small businesses.

GIJN has summarized both kinds of opportunities below.

In addition, other opportunities, not specifically targeting the media, might be available from governments and various philanthropies. For example, see this Nieman Labs article on the US bailout, and this media injection by the Canadian government. Freelancers in the US also may qualify for benefits.

Deadlines in some cases are soon. Know about a program not listed here? Write us at hello@gijn.org.

COVID-19 Reporting Grants

National Geographic Society (Global)

The National Geographic Society launched an emergency fund for journalists around the world who wish to cover COVID-19 within their communities.

Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis.

Grants ranging from $1,000 to $8,000 will be given “for local coverage of the preparation, response, and impact of this global pandemic as seen through evidence-based reporting.”

The National Geographic fund “will place particular emphasis on delivering news to underserved populations,” is interested in “local and even hyper-local distribution models,” and wants to see stories “of inequities that COVID-19 has brought to light.” See the announcement for more details.

Writers, photographers, videographers, audio journalists, cartographers, filmmakers, and data visualization experts may apply for this funding.

Pulitzer Center (Global)

The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting has begun a Coronavirus News Collaboration Challenge, a new grant designed to encourage innovative journalist and newsroom collaboration on coverage of the global coronavirus pandemic across state and national borders. This opportunity is open to all independent journalists and newsrooms in the United States and other countries.

In addition to a strong collaboration component for reporting and publication, it encourages proposals that:

  • Focus on systemic, under-reported issues underlying the coronavirus crisis.
  • Use data-driven and/or interdisciplinary approaches to reporting on coronavirus.
  • Hold the powerful accountable.

The Pulitzer Center is accepting applications for the Coronavirus News Collaboration Challenge on a rolling basis for the rest of the year.

Internews (Global)

The Internews Information Saves Lives Rapid Response Fund is accepting applications from media outlets, organizations and individuals who are working to provide local language journalism and other forms of public information related to the COVID/Coronavirus pandemic and its impacts. Grants from $500 to $5,000 will be for “Creation, production and dissemination of information related to the COVID/Coronavirus that will keep people safe and help them make informed decisions for themselves, their families and communities: scientific developments, symptoms and treatment, local health policies and procedures, daily useful local community news and information etc.”

Internews will additionally invest to provide advisory services to journalists, offering free advice and expertise on covering the virus in various languages, including English, Spanish, French, Arabic, and Russian. See all parameters here.

International Women’s Media Foundation (Global)

The IWMF’s Journalism Relief Fund is open to women-identifying journalists in dire straits — journalists who have faced significant financial hardship, lost work, were recently laid off or who urgently need assistance to avoid severe, irreversible outcomes. This fund will provide small grants of up to $2,000 per request. Note: Special consideration will be given on a case-by-case basis to those who have greater financial need.

Journalists for Transparency (J4T) Initiative (Global)

Journalists for Transparency (J4T) Initiative is looking to support two journalists worldwide who will do investigative stories focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic from a social, economic, humanitarian and equality perspective. Applicants must be under 35 and fluent in English. J4T is sponsored by the International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) and Transparency International and funded by the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ). Potential budget $10,000. Deadline May 8.

Writers Emergency Assistance Fund (Global)

Funds are only available to those who cannot work because they are currently ill or caring for someone who is ill, not those who have lost work, according to the sponsor, the American Society of Journalists and Authors. “Writers who apply do not have to live in the United States but must submit books or articles written in English.”

Photographer Fund (Global)

The Photographer Fund sponsored by Format aims to help self-employed photographers who are facing financial hardships due to COVID-19. Format is an online portfolio platform designed for photographers to show their work and promote their business. Assistance of up to $500 per person is provided.

Meeden Microgrants (Emerging Economies)

“In an attempt to support independent media, fact-checkers, citizen journalists, activists, and technology and digital literacy enthusiasts in their efforts to cover the outbreak, Meedan’s Check Global program is launching the COVID-19 Microgrants, specifically aimed at groups working within the context of emerging economies (North Africa/West Asia, Africa, Latin America, Asia-Pacific region). Individuals can apply for up to $500, organizations up to $2,000, and collaborative projects can apply for up to $2,500. Meeden is a US nonprofit that “designs and develops open source software, leads monitoring projects, produces assessment standards, and conducts trainings in support of global digital journalism, human rights media investigations, and digital media verification.”

Reporting Democracy  (Europe)

Reporting Democracy is inviting proposals for stories on how the COVID-19 crisis is reshaping politics and society in Central, Eastern, and Southeast Europe. Successful proposals will receive a grant of between 500 and 2,500 euros. The call is open to freelance and staff journalists from the four Visegrad countries of Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia ,and Hungary, as well as the Balkan countries of Romania, Moldova, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Albania, North Macedonia, and Greece. Proposals will be reviewed on a rolling basis every fortnight, with applications open until further notice. The first review will take place on May 15, 2020.

Africa-China Reporting Project (Africa) 

The Africa-China Reporting Project at Wits Journalism in South Africa invites journalists to submit proposals for reporting grants of up to $1,500 for investigations related to COVID-19. The project seeks proposals by April 30 for investigating “current ground-level responses, capacity, successes/failures, shortcomings, services and collaborations in African countries, communities, and organisations.”

Fund for Investigative Journalism (US)

The Fund for Investigative Journalism is offering emergency grants to US-based freelance investigative journalists working on coronavirus stories that “break new ground and expose wrongdoing in the public or private sector.” For the next few months, the Fund is offering grants of up to $10,000, on a rolling basis, for freelance investigative projects that have a strong US angle involving American citizens, government, or business. All stories must be published in English in a media outlet in the United States.

Freelancers Relief Fund (US)

Freelancers Relief Fund will provide financial assistance of up to $1,000 to freelancers who are experiencing sudden hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, whether as a result of illness, lost work, or caregiving responsibilities. See Eligibility Guidelines. Application process now open.

Microloans for Journalists (US)

A small band of US journalists, mostly from ProPublica, raised over $60,000 through pledges from journalists and plan to make at least 120 loans totaling $500 each to professional journalists who has been laid off, furloughed, or had their pay cut and urgently need assistance.

Journalist Furlough Fund (US)

This fund was created through a crowd-funding campaign started by journalists the state of Washington. Funds have gone to 175-plus journalists in 45 states. Application form.

Authors League Fund (US)

For “journalists, critics, essayists, short story writers, and poets with a substantial body of work in periodicals with a national or broad circulation.” See other guidelines.  The Authors League Fund helps writers living in the United States, regardless of citizenship, and American writers living abroad.

PEN America (US)

PEN America has expanded its Writers’ Emergency Fund and will distribute grants of $500 to $1,000 based on applications that demonstrate an inability to meet an acute financial need resulting from the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. “To be eligible, applicants must be based in the United States, be a professional writer, and be able to demonstrate that this one-time grant will be meaningful in helping them to address an emergency situation.”

Economic Hardship Reporting Project (US)

The EHRP has a COVID-19 relief fund for independent journalists needing assistance. Journalists can apply for reporting grants on coronavirus and financial suffering in the US; or for financial relief if they have been impacted by loss of work as a result of the pandemic.

Support for News Organizations

Google (Global)

A Global Journalism Emergency Relief Fund has been established to support small and medium-sized news organizations producing original news for local communities. The application window will close on April 29 at 11:59 p.m. PT, but applications will be processed on “a rolling basis” so submissions are encouraged “as soon as possible.” Eligible applicants should have a digital presence and have been in operation for at least 12 months. Rules include list of “eligible geographies.”

Facebook (Global)

Facebook announced a $100 million investment to support the news industry — $25 million in emergency grant funding for local news through the Facebook Journalism Project, and $75 million in additional marketing spend to move money over to news organizations around the world.

A first round of funding, for US and Canadian newsrooms, resulted in 50 grants through the COVID-19 Community Network grant program. A second round funded 400 local newsrooms. Located in 48 US states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, and several provinces and territories in Canada, the publishers will each receive a $5,000 grant to cover unexpected costs associated with reporting on the crisis in their communities. Facebook announced April 7 that applications for the Local News Relief Grant Program are due by April 24, at 11:59 p.m. ET. Grant amounts will range from $25,000-$100,000.

Both for- and non-profit local news organizations will be considered for grant funding . Applications will be reviewed by a selection committee made up of representatives from the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN), The Lenfest Institute for JournalismLocal Independent Online News Publishers (LION), Local Media Association (LMA), Local Media Consortium (LMC), National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), and Facebook.

Facebook suggested that those interested sign up for the Facebook Journalism Project newsletter.

Separately, Facebook offered a Small Business Grants Program with $100 million in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in over 30 countries where it operates.

The European Journalism COVID-19 Support Fund (Europe)

The European Journalism Centre and the Facebook Journalism Project  launched a $3 million fund to support hundreds of community, local and regional European news organizations. Applications open on April 16 for grants ranging between €5,000 and €50,000. The European Journalism COVID-19 Support Fund will provide core funding to news organizations and journalists to support community engagement, address critical business needs, and facilitate coverage of the pandemic. Those interested are urged to register their interest by signing up to our mailing list for updates.

Civitates (Europe)

Civitates aims to establish a strong cohort of independent, public interest journalism organizations which defend democracy in Europe by covering stories of societal importance. Applications accepted from these countries:

  • Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, North Macedonia, Malta, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and United Kingdom.

Deadline June 30.

Grants for Journalism: Deadlines Passed, Offer Closed

Urgency prompted several funders to set quick deadlines. Others were overwhelmed with applicants and have temporarily stopped taking requests. The offers below have expired, but the institutions may bear watching.

Internews (Global)

“Due to overwhelming demand the Rapid Response Fund will not be considering any more applications until further notice,”Internews wrote in early April. “We thank all who have applied for telling us about the amazing work they are doing. Successful applicants will be notified by latest COB Friday 10 April.”

The Internews Information Saves Lives Rapid Response Fund is accepting applications from media outlets, organizations and individuals who are working to provide local language journalism and other forms of public information related to the COVID/Coronavirus pandemic and its impacts. Grants from $500 to $5,000 will be for “Creation, production and dissemination of information related to the COVID/Coronavirus that will keep people safe and help them make informed decisions for themselves, their families and communities: scientific developments, symptoms and treatment, local health policies and procedures, daily useful local community news and information etc.”

Funding also may go to “procuring supplies necessary to improve newsroom safety or to allow for remote newsroom set ups and remote coverage of COVID/Coronavirus, including phone/internet cards for staff, boom microphones, online/remote recording tools, transportation for staff who would normally take public transportation, cleaning costs for newsrooms, etc. See all parameters here.

Rory Peck COVID-19 Fund (Global)

Professional freelance journalists whose only source of income is from journalism and are severely affected by the pandemic may be eligible for a grant from the Rory Peck COVID-19 Hardship Fund. In early April, Tory Peck said: “Due to overwhelming demand, the COVID-19 Hardship Fund is temporarily closed to new applications, as we process those that have already been received. The Fund will re-open as soon as possible.”

Facebook Fact-Checking Grants

Facebook, partnering with Poynter’s International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), launched a $1 million grant program to support fact-checkers in their work around COVID-19.  Fact-checking organizations can find more details on IFCN’s website. Applications were taken from March 18 until April 1. See update on recipients. Thirteen fact-checking organizations around the world were selected in the first round to receive grants to support their projects. This included projects from Italy, Spain, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Greece, Turkey, Montenegro, Lithuania, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, India, Congo and the United States.

 COVID-19 Challenge Grant from Aspen Tech Policy Hub 

Aspen Tech Policy Hub, a US nonprofit, offered grants to “civic and policy-oriented technologists,” including newsrooms and media-focused groups, working on tech-forward ways to mitigate the effects of COVID-19. (Recipients must be US citizens or permanent residents). Deadline: March 30.

Brown Institute for Media Innovation

The Institute offered a “rapid” micro-grant to help support journalists, technologists, health researchers, data scientists, social scientists, and any and all communities involved in covering the virus.

South Asian Journalists Association (US)

The South Asian Journalists Association, an organization of a thousand Americans and Canadians, has announced a grants program for members eligible to work in the United States. Two grants, of up to $2,500 each, are available to support freelance projects on the outbreak and its impact. Stories can be in any medium. Deadline is April 15.

Women Photograph (Global)

The Women Photograph COVID-19 Emergency Fund provides a small amount of one-time support to independent women and non-binary photographers globally who need assistance — there are no restrictions on what the funding can cover: healthcare, childcare, rent, professional expenses, etc. Photographers may request up to $500 in support, though restraint is requested so as many people as possible can be helped. The deadline is April 3.

Substack (Global)

Substack, a US company that helps writers create email newsletters, has donated $100,000 for grants to independent writers experiencing economic hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic. Grants will range from $500 to $5,000. Recipients will also receive digital mentorship from the Substack team focused on best practices and insights to help grow their publications. “These grants are designed to be quick, supplemental payments to writers, and there are no strings attached.” Accepting applications through April 7. You can read more about the program and apply here.

The Freelance Audio Fund (US)

Available to members of the Association of Independents in Radio (AIR) to provide emergency relief. Resources are limited. Priority will be given to Individual freelance audio professionals who work as reporters, producers, editors and engineers. Ends April 25.