In its second year, the New Narratives on Drugs Investigative Journalism Fund (FINND), which is born from the partnership between Gabo Foundation and Open Society Foundations (OSF), is consolidated as a grant program to support and encourage innovative journalistic work that addresses challenges and opportunities adjacent to drug policy in Latin America with rigor, ethics, and high standards of quality.
The fund will award 15 to 22 scholarships ranging from USD $2,000 to $6,000 each to individuals working as freelance journalists or affiliated to media in Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru, and Mexico. The call is open in the categories of investigative journalism, local journalism, innovative journalism, and collaborative journalism. Proposals may also include text, video, web, documentary, sound, and photography products, or a combination of several formats. Along these lines, proposals that seek to develop non-traditional or innovative journalistic formats—such as journalistic satire, scrollytelling, or others—are also accepted.
Conscious of the impact and profound consequences of the COVID-19 crisis across the world, this second edition of FINND seeks to encourage proposals that make use of innovative approaches to analyze the intersection between illicit drug phenomena and issues of human rights, violence, public health, social policy, and other lines of research framed within the context of the crisis arising from the coronavirus.
We wish to clarify that what we mean by ‘traditional narratives’ surrounding drug themes, for example, are investigations into criminal organizations, anecdotal accounts of the drug trade or the war on drugs, life stories of drug lords and, in general, coverage that reproduces stereotypes or commonplaces around these topics.
Proposals for journalistic work should fall within the following themes:
● Public health: New challenges for drug users presented by the emergence of COVID-19. Innovation in the field of scientific research, pharmaceutical applications, care for those with problematic use patters (harm reduction), and nutritional uses.
● Regulatory frameworks and laws: Changes in legislation and their impacts on producers, users, and illicit economies. Analysis of regulatory frameworks and possibilities for developing industries around non-drug uses of plants that are typically processed into illicit drugs.
● Human rights: Anti-drug policies, vulnerability of minorities, urban drug markets, prisons, repression and militarization, governance, and narco-politics. The coronavirus pandemic as an aggravating and facilitating factor in violations of human rights, affecting the social welfare and rule of law in drug-adjacent contexts.
● Gender: How the effects of COVID-19 can accentuate gender inequalities and result in an increase of violence against women and youth. Stories of women's empowerment and agency in drug-adjacent contexts.
● Ethnic-cultural approach: Research involving the traditional or nutritional uses that indigenous groups and ancestral communities have given to plants with potential for illicit use. Social and environmental impacts of the war on drugs in ethnic territories.
● Environment: Deforestation, pollution, environmental effects of drug policies.
● Rural dimension: Crops declared illicit, producer communities, territorial development, illicit economies, impacts of forced eradication policies. The effects of COVID-19 on the rural dynamics of the phenomena associated with the illicit drug market.
Regardless of the subject matter of projects applying to the fund, proposals must fall into one of the following four categories:
● Investigative journalism: The application must contain a hypothesis and research proposal, and a plan for developing the topic into text, sound journalism (radio, podcast, or other), video, photography, or new formats.
● Local journalism: This category applies to participants who propose journalistic projects with a scope that is primarily departmental, provincial, or hyperlocal. The proposed project must focus on dynamics that affect the regions where journalists live and/or work, and priority will be given to projects with a strong solutions journalism component.
● Innovative journalism: Proposals in this category should explain how they will use formats that innovatively communicate the results of journalistic research. New formats include, but are not limited to, multimedia documentaries, video editorials, projects with collaborative audience journalism components, journalistic satire, scrollytelling, and any other non-traditional journalistic format.
● Collaborative journalism: Projects that promote collaborative journalism will be favored, especially those that involve alliances between journalists working in major cities and local reporters, researchers, or members of community or regional media as well as communications collectives.
» Who can participate?
The call is open to those who work as journalists and who work in text, sound, photography, video, or other formats. Applications are accepted from journalists who carry out their research as freelancers or who have permanent or collaborative affiliations with media in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, and Peru. Individual and collective applications are accepted, with one person assigned responsibility for the project.
» Application requirements
By Tuesday, September 14, 2020, at 12 noon (Colombian time) the registration form on the Gabo Foundation website must be filled out and submitted with the following attachments:
● A research proposal in the this format: The proposal should specify the thematic line, project justification and statement of purpose, estimated budget* in dollars, general timetable, format (text, photography, video, multimedia, radio/podcast, new formats), and 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 the case of a group application, a single file must contain all the participants’ autobiographies. This 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 sample of journalistic work that has been published in the last 12 months.
● If the applicant is a staff journalist, a letter of support from that media outlet expressing a commitment to publishing their project must be included in the application. If the applicant is a freelancer or has not secured a commitment from a media outlet to publish, they must present this form and will receive support from FINND in finding interested media outlets.
Note: Only online applications presented through the designated form on the Gabo Foundation website attaching the forms stipulated above will be valid. Applications via e-mail or social media will not be considered.
» Additional rules
● The FINND academic team will decide on the size of the grant to be awarded to each chosen project, based on the content of the proposal, the budget presented, and the focus of the research.
● Statutory deductions and bank fees will be deducted from the value of the grant.
● All research proposals submitted to this call must focus on one of the thematic lines and categories mentioned. Priority will be given to the selection of those proposals that link those thematic lines to the effects of the pandemic.
● The proposals in this edition of FINND must take into account rules implemented in each country and region following the emergence of COVID-19. These standards can affect journalistic fieldwork and travel to meet with sources, so proposals should consider these factors to define the deadlines for advance products and final products for the projects.
● Journalistic ethics: All content generated or created by the beneficiaries of FINND must comply with the editorial guidelines of the Gabo Foundation. Any person who participates in the development of these projects must avoid conflicts of interest and behaviors that compromise their journalistic integrity or unfairly impinge on the good name of other natural or legal persons. It is expected that the beneficiaries of the program report possible conflicts of interest in a timely manner, including exclusivity clauses or previously acquired commitments with third parties.
● It is recommended that the following statement be included in the final publications: "This project/documentary/research/podcast was produced with the support of the Gabo Foundation's New Narratives on Drugs Investigative Journalism Fund."
● Budgets must necessarily include a line item for biosafety and personal protective equipment. Journalists are expected to take every precaution in their field work to protect themselves and their sources. Items to be included in this item, for example, may include: protective eyewear, alcohol, antibacterial lotion, gloves, masks, COVID-19 tests, and other items deemed necessary by health authorities.
● It should be noted that the purchase of equipment worth more than USD $2,000 (two thousand dollars) is not permitted with resources from the New Narratives on Drugs Investigative Journalism Fund. Fees for journalists may be included.
Disclaimer: The New Narratives on Drugs Investigative Journalism Fund is subject to the laws of the United States and the provisions of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States. Therefore, in the case of applications from Colombian journalists or stories that involve work in Colombia, grantees may not use resources from the fund to interview natural or legal persons sanctioned by OFAC. You may consult the complete list of sanctioned individuals and entities here.
» Selection criteria
● Proposals will be reviewed in three rounds by a judging panel, the Gabo Foundation's journalism workshop director, and the project's academic director. As per the foundation's policies, the evaluation committee's selection process is not disclosed.
● Among other things, FINND juries will consider the feasibility of the proposal, innovation in the narrative presented, the originality of the topic, the relevance and expected impact of the research, and its circulation plan in an established medium, among particular audiences, and on social networks.
● The fund will have a pre-selection round where journalists may be contacted by phone or email to resolve questions or concerns the judging panel may have.
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, once beneficiaries have submitted their required administrative, legal, and financial documentation.
● An additional 30% of the grant money will be deposited into the grantees’ bank account in December 2020, once the participant has successfully submitted a report of their project’s progress to both their mentor and the academic director of the program.
● The remaining 30% will be disbursed once the project is published. Projects financed by the fund must be published no later than February 15, 2021.
Note: Statutory deductions and bank fees will be deducted from the value of the grant.
» How does the fund work?
● Grantees will have a maximum of five months to research and produce the final version of their journalistic work.
● Grantees will have a mentor assigned to them, who will advise them on their research, in order to bolster the quality of their work.
● Grantees will be supported by the Gabo Foundation to resolve questions regarding the administrative procedure for the grant, as well as to establish links, when necessary, with mentors and the academic director of the fund.
● The fund has an academic director, responsible for monitoring the development of each of the journalistic works, which will be done in coordination with the Gabo Foundation.
» How to apply
To register for the Research Grant, please follow the steps below:
1. Click the pink "Log in" button.
2. Log in to our new applications platform, or if you don't have an account yet, register with your email, Facebook, or Google account.
4. Fill out the form on the platform and attach the required documents listed in “Application requirements”.
5. Click send.
For further information or assistance, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.