The New Narratives on Drugs Investigative Journalism Fund

The New Narratives on Drugs Investigative Journalism Fund

The Gabo Foundation and Open Society Foundations open the call for applications to the The New Narratives on Drugs Investigative Journalism Fund​.

For decades, subjects related to drugs have had a prominent place in Latin America’s media landscape, especially the coverage of the illegal drug trade and the violence that swirls around it. Many journalists have paid the ultimate price for working in an environment plagued with threats, kidnappings and killings, and while they are not typical war reporters, many are compelled to wear flak jackets while they continue to report the news.

However, the predominance of this focus on violence has distracted many outlets and correspondents from taking into account many other variables and scientific, cultural and social angles surrounding the production and consumption of drugs. This has cleared the way for particular interest groups that benefit from spreading misinformation and false narratives linked to these topics. Apply here to The New Narratives on Drugs Investigative Journalism Fund

Looking to foment fact-based, intelligent coverage of underreported stories, the Investigative Journalism and New Narratives on Drugs Fund, will award up to 25 grants of $2,500 to $8,000 USD, to journalists working on drug-related stories in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay and Peru. The funds will help journalists develop their research and turn it into coverage that is deeply informed and inclusive, and presents solutions to challenges adjacent to drug policy.

Applications must be for stories related to drug policy in the following thematic lines:

  • Public Health: criminalization and regulation, drug use and treatment, and the impacts of legislation on raw-material producers and end users.
  • Effects on human rights: the war on drugs, minorities, urban drug markets, prisons,   repression and militarization, governance and narco-politics. 
  • Youth and women: vulnerability and stigmatization, victimization, poverty and marginalization, empowerment and feminist agency.
  • Environment: deforestation, contamination, environmental conflicts.
  • Rural dimension: illicit crops, growers, rural development, armed actors, illegal economies, eradication.

The amount of money granted to each selected candidate will be decided based on their proposal, budget and reach of the research subject.

This program is partly funded through a grant from the Global Drug Policy Program at the Open Society Foundations.

» Who can apply?

The program will be open to all reporters, writers, filmmakers, photographers and journalists working with traditional or new media on staff or as freelancers in Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru, Mexico and Brazil. Local journalists will be given priority, but applications by foreign journalists working in the aforementioned countries will also be considered.

Applicants will be asked to choose between the following three categories:

  • Investigative journalism: this category applies for freelance and staff journalists, who will be asked to submit a proposal for a text, radio/podcast, video, photo-based story.
  • Regional journalism: this category applies for freelance and staff journalists, including community radios, working on stories with a local scope. The proposed work should be focused on issues affecting the community where the journalist lives/works. 
  • Innovation, new formats and new media: this category applies for freelance and staff journalists looking to use innovative formats to tell a story and display research findings. This includes multimedia documentaries, video editorials, participative journalism, journalistic satire, animation, and other types of non-traditional formats.

Legal Notice: The Fund for Investigative Journalism and New Narratives on Drugs works under the jurisdiction of United States law, and is subject to the restrictions imparted by the Office of Foreign Assets Control. In this sense, Colombian applicants or applicants looking to carry out work in Colombia will not be able to utilize funds granted by the program to interview individuals or organizations included in OFAC’s Sanctions List. The Sanctions List can be accessed here.

»  How does the Fund work?

During a period of 6 months, each grantee will work closely with an assigned mentor and the academic director of the program in order to build up their research project. Grantees will have constant access to one-on-one communication with their mentors, a group workshops and discussions.

» How to apply?

The application form must be submitted through the Gabo Foundations platform by November 8th, at noon (Colombian time), and the following materials must be attached:

  • A research proposal, using this format. The proposal must include a thematic line, a justification for the project and a statement of purpose, an estimated budget*, a general timeline, and a chosen format for the final product (text, photo, video, multimedia, radio, podcast, etc.), along with a list of potential sources.

  • Applicants must also submit an autobiography no longer than 800 words, emphasizing their journalistic experience and the motivation behind the project. In case of a group application, a single file must contain all the participants’ autobiographies. This brief text will be taken into account in the selection process, so we suggest that applicants prepare it prior to filling out the application form. Standard CVs will not be taken into consideration.

  • A work sample published in the last 12 months.

  • In case the applicant is a staff journalist, a letter of support from their media outlet stating interest in the project must be included in the application. Freelance journalists are encouraged to include a letter of support from an editor in their application, however, those grantees who are not able to obtain a letter of interest from a media company, will receive support from the grant program in finding an outlet for their stories. The latter need to fill this form and include it in the application materials

*Budgets should not include costs related to gear purchases for over $2,000 USD.

» Grant disbursement process

An initial 40% of the grant money will be deposited into the grantees’ bank account within 30 days of the announcement of the selected participants in this year’s program. Each beneficiary will be responsible for submitting their required administrative, legal and financial documentation.

An additional 30% of the grant money will be deposited into the grantees’ bank account in February 2020, once the participant has successfully submitted a report of their project’s progress to their mentor or the academic director of the program.

The remaining 30% will be disbursed once each project is published by a media outlet.

Projects funded by the Fund for Investigative Journalism and New Narratives on Drugs must be published by May 10, 2020.

*Taxes and bank fees will be deducted from the funds allocated to each project.

For more information, please contact Jessica Arrieta at:

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