The Fund for Investigative Journalism

Supporting investigative reporting projects around the world

  • Next Deadline: May 13, 2019 (11:59 pm Eastern)

  • Mentors Guide FIJ-Supported Projects

    (Washington) – During the past year and  a half, more than twenty experienced reporters and news executives have mentored FIJ grantees, lending a hand in the reporting, writing and editing of their work.

    The executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE), Mark Horvit, recruits the mentors from the roster of IRE members. In so doing, he has lined up some of the biggest names in the investigative news business as volunteers.

    The FIJ/IRE mentoring program is patterned on IRE’s longstanding initiative that pairs young and veteran journalists who meet one another at the annual IRE conference.  In the case of FIJ grantees, many are themselves experienced reporters, but are working alone as freelancers and are grateful to have someone on-call to act as a sounding board.

    Mentors make themselves available to brainstorm about how to get a specific piece of information or pry public records loose from uncooperative government agencies. And they often read or view stories before grantees submit them to an editor.

    As one FIJ-supported freelancer described the value of a mentor:  “Someone willing to read a first draft, before it goes to the magazine, [is] like manna from heaven.”

    The mentoring relationship typically lasts the duration of the project, but for Wanjohi Kabukuru of Kenya and mentor Ron Nixon, a New York Times reporter, it has been extended beyond that. They’ve collaborated on two investigations.

    Kabukuru consulted with Nixon as he investigated pesticides dumping and malaria vaccine experimentation for New African magazine.

    Nixon’s editorial guidance helped “ensure solid investigations, proper language, objective analysis and accurate attribution,” said Kabukuru. When Nixon learned that both he and Kabukuru planned to attend a reporting conference in Africa, they made arrangements to meet in person. After the conference, Kabukuru sent a message to FIJ that discussing his work with Nixon “opened my eyes to whole new dimension of investigative journalism.”

    Kristin Palitza, who wrote about child laborers in the tobacco fields of Malawi for the UK Guardian, brainstormed about ideas with mentor David Kaplan, editor at large for the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. Palitza said Kaplan helped “move the story from a Malawian issue to a story of international importance” and shared contacts with news organizations to help get the story

    “The program confirmed to me that even for mid-career journalists, it is of great value to have the support of a senior journalist and be able to benefit from his/her wealth of experience. It keeps you motivated, gives you new ideas and makes you push a little further,” said Palitza.

    FIJ is grateful to the following mentors who have worked with grantees since the program began last year:

    Sarah Cohen, Duke University

    David Donald, Center for Public Integrity

    Mark Feldstein, University of Maryland

    Manny Garcia, El Nuevo Herald

    Andy Hall, Wisconsin Center for Investigative Reporting

    Dianna Hunt, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

    David Kaplan, Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project

    Kevin Keeshan, KGO-TV, San Francisco

    Mike McGraw, Kansas City Star

    Josh Meyer, Medill School of Journalism

    Jim Neff, Seattle Times

    Deb Nelson, University of Maryland

    Chuck Neubauer, Washington Times

    Ron Nixon, New York Times

    Lois Norder, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

    Judy Pasternak, Author

    Robert Rosenthal, Center for Investigative Reporting

    Fred Schulte, Center for Public Integrity

    Andy Segal, CNN

    Ken Silverstein, Harper’s Magazine

    Adam Thompson, ProPublica

    Steve Weinberg, Missouri School of Journalism

    Alison Young, USA Today

    Wanjohi Kabukuru (left) with mentor Ron Nixon (right)





    Understanding the World Around Us: A Basic Human Need

    (Washington) – On Monday night, young people displayed artwork, pounded on drums, performed a harpsichord solo, and read a book aloud. A young boy voiced his dream to amass the “most grandiose home library” imaginable. A young girl recited her poem “I Have the Potential,” delivered with the kicker: “My work is more than just the results of some standardized tests.”
    The children displayed their enthusiasm for learning and artistic talents on stage and during receptions at the Sidney Harman Hall, 610 F Street NW, Washington, as part of the Harman Family Foundation’s salute to small-budget nonprofits in the Greater Washington DC region.
    The Fund for Investigative Journalism was one of the nonprofits honored. FIJ belongs to a select group of international, cultural, educational, nature, and human service organizations chosen for the 2011-2012 edition of the Catalogue for Philanthropy: Greater Washington. The production of the Catalogue, with both printed and online editions, is an initiative started by the Harman Family Foundation, founded by Sidney Harman, the well-known philanthropist and businessman who purchased Newsweek Magazine in 2010. He died earlier this year at the age of 92. His daughter, Barbara Harman, created the Catalogue in 2003 to introduce well-managed, small-budget charities to philanthropists in the DC area.
    FIJ is the first journalism organization to be recognized as “One of the Best” by the Catalogue, after going through a vetting process that evaluates both programs and finances.
    Most organizations featured by the Catalogue address basic human needs for food, shelter, education, and culture.  To cite a few examples, they serve nutritious meals to chronically homeless men and women, find housing for families, help teenaged girls be kids rather than produce them, work with young boys to produce works of art, and go inside the DC jail to run a book club and writing workshops for teens being held on adult felony charges.
    The Fund for Investigative Journalism serves another basic human need: the need to understand the world around us.
    Grants awarded to independent journalists across the globe help tell stories that powerful business and government leaders prefer to conceal. Our grantees are under financial pressure and lack the protections given by major news organizations. But with our financial and editorial support, reporters expose human rights violations, spread understanding of environmental damage caused by agricultural and industrial processes, and challenge self-serving stories that distract the citizenry or cover up the truth.
    The organizations featured in the Catalogue for Philanthropy rely on volunteers and individual donors to carry out their work. To learn more about them, click onto the Catalogue’s online giving guide.

    “One of the Best” 2011-2012