WHAT IS THE NEED?
Quality journalism fuels dialogue between government, NGOs, communities, and lobbying groups as well as concerned citizens in an effort to find solutions to the environmental challenges we face now and in the years ahead. The process of educating these groups about the importance of conserving natural resources plays a major role in promoting advocacy and facilitating cooperation. However, the nuanced field of longform journalism, and specifically environmental journalism, is currently failing.
In April 2013 a story in the Columbia Journalism Review described a “meltdown” in longform reporting at major U.S. newspapers. The piece cited an 86 percent drop at the Los Angeles Times, a 50 percent decline at the Washington Post, a 35 percent dip at the Wall Street Journal, and a 25 percent fall at the New York Times. This deterioration has been accompanied by waning interest in environmental issues in the United States as measured by Google Trends, including a gradual but steady decline in search traffic for water management-and pollution-related keywords. The combination is especially troubling for environmental journalism, which requires nuanced reporting. Boiling down an inevitably complex environmental story to a simple black-and-white issue risks introducing inaccuracies that provide fuel for environmental naysayers and critics.
Mongabay.org was founded, in part, to facilitate detailed reporting on key issues affecting the environment and the communities that depend on it. Our Special Reporting Initiatives (SRI) program enables professional journalists to conduct in-depth reporting on a specific issue over a three-month period. Some of the resulting articles are published on Mongabay under a Creative Commons license that allows for, and encourages, re-publishing elsewhere. Others are published in external media outlets, reaching as wide an audience as possible.
The value of the Special Reporting Initiatives program is that it enables high-quality and detailed reporting on an environmental issue that may be otherwise overlooked or underreported by the broader media. In contrast to an aggregation of case studies in a single report, a series of in-depth articles highlights each case study or story separately, boosting its prominence. SRI fellows are given the funding and support to become issue area experts, adding value to their own career and contributing to the wider conversation regarding the state of our natural world.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Every two to three months, Mongabay.org will announce a new Special Reporting Initiative (SRI). The theme of a SRI may be specific to a certain region and topic or it may be broad. Mongabay.org offers a $12,000 honorarium and up to $3,000 for reporting, travel, and research costs for each project.
Once the application window is open, journalists can submit their application on why they should be selected for the reporting project. For more details on our application process, visit our Apply page.
Applications will be reviewed by an independent selection panel that consists of 4-5 journalists, academics, and issue-area experts. Within 30 days of the close of the application window, the selection panel will choose the top candidate for the SRI project based on a set of criteria including the quality and originality of the proposal, the scope of reporting, previous work, and proposed outputs (number and types of stories, multimedia, etc.), among other factors.
Once a decision is reached, Mongabay.org will notify the candidate. Pending his or her acceptance of the SRI terms and conditions, including the volume of content he or she would produce and the timeline of production, the candidate would publicly be announced as the winner.
The winning journalist, or “fellow”, will then begin research activities within the specified two-month period. After the research period, the journalist will then have another two months to produce a series of articles while working with a professional editor. During this period, the journalist is expected to follow through on their pitches to third party media outlets, with the stipulation that if one or more of the stories is picked up by a publication, an extended or abridged version of the story would be allowed to appear thereafter on Mongabay. Accepted journalists will be expected to publish a minimum of six articles on the topic on mongabay.com, as well as publish other articles for external publications.
Articles published on Mongabay would be produced under an open Creative Commons license so they could be shared on other web sites or developed by the author into derivative works, including articles for other publications, books, as well as videos and film.
Articles published would be designated as having been produced by the Mongabay SRI program. These stories would be aggregated in a news-feed so the complete body of work would be easily accessible and will be disseminated via our social media channels (120,000+ fans on the Mongabay Facebook page and 200,000+ followers on Twitter).
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Mongabay.org will open a new Special Reporting Initiative every 1-2 months.
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