News from FIJ

PROFILE: FIJ Mentor Pete Carey Lends 5 Decades of Journalism Experience to Grantees

A key component of FIJ’s program is recruiting and matching veteran reporters to mentor grantees. Mentors advise on reporting techniques, and also coach grantees through the writing phase. One grantee told us his mentor tutored him in the art of “unspooling” information.

This month, we profile our mentor Pete Carey, a Pulitzer Price winner who retired from the San Jose Mercury News.

By Pete Carey

For the past few months I’ve been putting five decades of journalism to use at the Fund for Investigative Journalism. I’m a mentor to some of the Fund’s grantees.

There aren’t many kinds of reporting I haven’t done. In more than 50 years I’ve done international, technology, defense, investigative, business and features reporting, and was even editor of a small town paper. But all that has been sitting on a shelf since I retired a couple years ago.
FIJ gives me a chance to help others.

Currently, I’m mentoring two smart science writers working on a book about earthquakes and modern energy; a seasoned journalist in Connecticut investigating the effectiveness of the state’s lead abatement programs in low income areas; and a young freelance journalist working on a dynamite story about a hidden aspect of our flawed immigration system.

It’s like being back in the game. It’s a hell of a lot of fun.

PROFILE: FIJ Mentor and Writing Coach Linda Jue on What Makes Her Job Special

Investigative reporters tend to spend most of their reporting and research time focused on acquiring the facts and data to document a wrongdoing. As a result, the fruit of their labor – the story – too often ends up dry and lifeless. The reader, listener or viewer is left feeling like they should care more than they do about the wrong that’s uncovered.

The best investigative reporting doesn’t just reveal the facts of a hidden injustice; it tells an evocative story that arouses the curiosity of the intended audience and holds their interest all the way to the end. A compelling story explores themes like unchecked power, corruption, discrimination, greed, and other human failings that drive the wrongdoing being reported on. It also portrays how the people affected respond to the problem, as well as asks whether viable solutions exist. Above all, a successful investigative story makes people care.

That’s where I come in. As an investigative features editor, I help FIJ grantees identify the themes that will liven up their stories. In one example, I worked with a grantee on a story about the sexual abuse of incarcerated women in a California prison. Her reporting was excellent, but her draft needed work. I worked with her to turn it into a more vital story that got to the heart of the power dynamics behind the abuse and the pre-existing emotional and physical damage that made these women extra vulnerable.

The grantee’s story, initially intended to appear only in a criminal justice trade publication, was picked up by The Guardian of London because of the unusual angle and compelling writing. It’s stories like this one that have made my job as an FIJ reporting and writing coach immensely rewarding.

By Linda Jue

Linda Jue is the editor & executive director of the G.W. Williams Center for Independent Journalism

FIJ Board Member Clarence Page Celebrates 50th-Year Anniversary at the Chicago Tribune

FIJ’s Board Member, Clarence Page, is celebrating his 50th-year anniversary as a syndicated columnist at the Chicago Tribune. “Few writers across the country approach politics, culture, and race with the depth and scholarship that Page brings to each of his columns,” Tribune editors wrote in an editorial celebrating Page’s tenure. His long-time editor, Marcia Lythcott, who retired from the Tribune in 2018, said “He isn’t a doomsday columnist. He is, ‘We can do better, people.'”

An Ohio native, Page joined the Tribune in 1969 after graduating from Ohio University. Since 1991, he has worked from the Washington, D.C.,’s Tribune bureau. He has won two Pulitzers: one in 1972, as part of a Tribune team; the second one for commentary in 1989.

Page has been a regular guest of Sunday morning talk shows.  He was often on the McLaughlin Group, a political talk show that ran on public television for 34 years until it was canceled in 2016, after its long-time host, John McLaughlin, died. The show is being revived, and it will return to PBS stations nationwide early next year. Page will join a new host and other pundits, including Pat Buchanan.

FIJ Awards Grants to Nine Investigative Journalists

The board of directors of the Fund for Investigative Journalism (FIJ) has awarded $79,000 in grants to nine investigative journalists in its most recent round of funding.

The grants will help cover the costs of reporting, such as travel, document fees, and other expenses. The grant recipients are:

Tristan Ahtone, a member of the Kiowa Tribe and associate editor of the High Country News tribal affairs desk;

Karen Foshay, executive producer, and Tori Edgar, multimedia producer, of SoCal Connected, KCET’s weekly award-winning news documentary series;

Alex Cuadros, a freelance journalist who is the author of “Brazillionaires”;

Shirley Smith, a reporter with the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting;

Katherine Lewis, a Maryland-based independent journalist;

William Martin III, a New York-based freelance video journalist;

Chris Walker, a Denver-based freelance magazine writer;

Loretta Williams, an independent public media journalist;

Jonquilyn Hill, a radio producer at WAMU, in Washington, D.C.


New Funding Grants for 2020

Two funding grants came in at the end of October:  The Nara Fund, a long-standing supporter of FIJ, gave $25,000, acknowledging the “central role investigative journalism plays in preserving our democracy.”


The Morton K. and Jane Blaustein Foundation, another loyal funder, nearly doubled their renewal grant from last year, approving a $50,000 award.


We could still use contributions to meet the terms of a $10,000 challenge grant given to FIJ for our 50th Anniversary. Please pledge.

Former FIJ Board Member George Lardner Jr. Dies

Former FIJ Board Member George Lardner Jr., who won the Pulitzer in 1993 for an investigation into the murder of his 21-year-old daughter, Kristin, died in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 21.  Lardner, 85, was a former Washington Post reporter and a scholar in residence at the Investigative Reporting Workshop. He retired from the Post in 2004.
Lardner was known as a dogged reporter and elegant writer. He descended from a long line of writers, the Post wrote in its obituary.
The investigation of his daughter’s murder resulted in a 9,000-word account that pulled apart her life as an art student in Boston and described how Michael Cartier, an abusive ex-boyfriend, stalked and killed her despite several orders of protection. Cartier had a long history of violence against animals and women, Lardner found out.
When he received the Pulitzer, Lardner said he would “give anything not to have written” the story that won it. Mr. Lardner always said that his account of his daughter’s death, which he later expanded into the book “The Stalking of Kristin” (1995), was the most important story he ever wrote.
His family said Lardner remained passionate about the purpose of journalism and the value of a free press, and to honor his memory, they requested donations be made to FIJ in lieu of flowers.

FIJ at Excellence in Journalism 2019 Conference

Fund for Investigative Journalism former Board President Ricardo Sandoval Palos and Director of Operations Ana Arana were at the Excellence in Journalism 2019 conference organized by the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the Radio Television Digital News Association. Sandoval Palos and Arana led a panel on how freelance journalists can apply for grants. Joining them on the panel were former FIJ grantees Johnny Magdaleno and Jenni Monet, who shared tips on how they found grant money for reporting expenses. “Independent investigative journalists do not have to go into debt to get a good story,” said Sandoval Palos.  Monet said journalists should be careful about how they put together their budgets and former grantee Magdaleno said he kept applying for grants even after he was initially turned down. “You can always reach out to funders and ask how you can improve your pitch,” he said.

Pulitzer Center Communications and Inclusion Manager Jin Ding also participated in the panel.

Photo:  Ana Arana, far left, Johnny Maldonado, Ricardo Sandoval-Palos, Jin Ding, center, and Jenni Monet, far right

FIJ Seeks New Executive Director

Washington, August 29, 2019 – The Fund for Investigative Journalism is seeking a full-time executive director to succeed Sandy Bergo, who will be retiring at the end of the year, after leading the nonprofit for ten years. A search committee is actively seeking candidates. Here is the job posting:


Who We Are

For 50 years, the Fund for Investigative Journalism has financed reporting projects that expose injustice, government wrongdoing, corporate malfeasance, and abuses of human and environmental rights. The Fund is the nation’s leading nonprofit supporting independent investigative journalists whose work is published in established media outlets around the world. Each year, the Fund awards dozens of grants to help reporters complete their investigations, and provides mentors, access to legal advice and fellowships to diversify the profession. FIJ-supported projects have been awarded many journalistic honors, including three Pulitzer Prizes (recently the 2019 Pulitzer for General Nonfiction), two National Magazine Awards, the Raymond Clapper Award, the George Polk Award, the Sigma Delta Chi Award, the Worth Bingham Prize, and the New York Newspaper Guild’s Front Page Award. Authors working on books with an FIJ grant have won the Frank Luther Mott Award for the best-researched media book, as well as the MacArthur Foundation’s coveted “genius” award.

Who You Are

You have a desire to make the world better by funding high-impact investigative reporting projects that would not be possible without support from FIJ. You connect donors to FIJ’s mission and help each one understand how their support makes a difference. You are skilled at finding new resources and partners to expand FIJ’s work. You are an ambassador for high-quality journalism and the First Amendment. You understand how to reach out to freelance reporters and journalism networks about FIJ’s benefits. You have demonstrated a commitment to diversity and bring that to bear in both programming and grant-making for the organization. You are a self-starter, and if you do not know the answer to a problem you are able to find the people who do. You have experience managing people, developing budgets, and overseeing multiple projects and contractors. Preferably, you have worked with nonprofits and boards of directors. While FIJ has historically been led by someone who lives in the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area, that is not a requirement for the right applicant who has a demonstrated ability to manage remotely and who could be present for all board meetings and program activities.

Your Responsibilities

As executive director, you will provide strategic and operational leadership to FIJ and will report to FIJ’s board of directors. You will:

● Lead the growth of FIJ by nurturing current funders and partners, developing new revenue sources and partnerships, and expanding the number of reporting grants given out annually. ● Oversee the grant-making program by ensuring proposed projects are properly evaluated for news value, journalistic integrity and quality. Manage all supporting programs, including FIJ’s mentor program, diversity fellowships and legal support partnership. ● Develop and execute a strategy that ensures FIJ will support high-quality, high-impact investigative journalism for many years to come. With your leadership, the organization will increase its financial capacity to support the role of the free press in our democracy. ● Collaborate effectively with the board of directors on strategy and operations, ensuring a unity of vision and a transparent relationship. ● Ensure the fiscal integrity and legal compliance of the organization by managing the annual budget, enforcing fiscal controls, and otherwise ensuring policies and records are accurate and current. ● Communicate FIJ’s purpose and accomplishments with vigor and clarity, through personal relationships and the best use of current technology, including a dynamic website and social media plan.

Interested individuals should submit a cover letter, resume and any supplemental material to: The Fund for Investigative Journalism is an equal opportunity employer and offers a competitive compensation and benefits package.

FIJ Executive Director Sandy Bergo to retire in 2019

WASHINGTON — Fund for Investigative Journalism Executive Director Sandy Bergo today announced that she will retire at the end of 2019. Bergo has led the organization since she was appointed by the Board of Directors in 2010.

“Sandy has brought significant growth and great passion to FIJ,” said Board of Directors President Marcia Bullard. “She has provided exceptional leadership and we will miss her influence. Because of Sandy’s work, FIJ has been able to support many more journalists’ projects. Sandy has set us on a course for strong future growth.”

A search for a new executive director is underway. The board has named a search committee headed by Mark Greenblatt of Scripps Washington Bureau. It includes Anu Narayanswamy of the Washington Post, David Boardman of the Klein College of Media and Communication at Temple University and Susanne Reber of Scripps Washington Bureau.

Under Bergo’s leadership, FIJ has significantly increased its fundraising and expanded the number of grants provided each year to independent investigative journalists. Bergo also established programs that provide legal guidance and mentoring services to grant recipients and created a fellowship program that helps expand opportunities for journalists of color.

“It’s been great fun to work with all the journalists who come to FIJ with stories they are burning to tell, and gratifying to help them get the resources they need. And it’s been a blast to work with a nonprofit board of accomplished journalists who devote their time and talents to ensuring that FIJ fulfills its mission,” said Bergo.

Bergo is a longtime investigative reporter. During her tenure with FIJ, she continued her investigative reporting work, freelancing for the Better Government Association of Chicago. Before joining FIJ, she was a producer on the investigative teams at WBBM-TV in Chicago and WJLA-TV in Washington, a writer at the Center for Public Integrity, and a freelance reporter.

She and her husband, journalist Chuck Neubauer, reside in the Washington, D.C., area.

FIJ is marking its 50th anniversary of making grants to support the work of independent investigative journalists. Grant recipients have won three Pulitzer Prizes – including the 2019 Pulitzer for general nonfiction – the Peabody Award, a National Magazine Award and the MacArthur Foundation’s genius grant, among others. The nonprofit is based in Washington, D.C.

For more information, contact

FIJ, NAHJ, and the Miami Herald Media Company Partner in Fellowship to Promote Investigative Reporting Opportunities


(Washington, D.C.) – August 27, 2019 – The Fund for Investigative Journalism (FIJ), the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), and the Miami Herald Media Company today announced a fellowship project that seeks to expand investigative reporting opportunities for diverse journalists.

The unique partnership will offer freelance journalists an opportunity to complete an investigative project that digs into issues of consequence and of interest to readers of the Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald. The content produced during the three-month fellowship will be edited and published by the Miami Herald Media Company’s flagship publications – the Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald – in both English and Spanish.  The fellow will receive a $30,000 grant financed by FIJ and NAHJ. Miami Herald Media Company will provide the fellow with workspace and other editorial support. The fellowship will fund work-related travel, and other expenses, plus a stipend.

“We are pleased to embark on this partnership that seeks to bring more diverse qualified individuals to investigative journalism,” said Marcia Bullard, board chairperson of FIJ. “This fellowship demonstrates our organization’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.”

“Finding different ways of funding stories that impact our communities is a necessary and important goal,” said Alberto B. Mendoza, executive director of NAHJ.  “With this fellowship we show our commitment to fostering equal opportunity and to increase media representation from diverse communities,” said Mendoza.

“Investigative journalism is at the core of what we do,” said Aminda Marqués González, executive editor and publisher of the Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald. “We are thrilled to be part of this groundbreaking collaboration.”  The Miami Herald has won 22 Pulitzer prizes, including three in the last 10 years.

“What we are looking for are proposals for stories that uncover something we didn’t know and engages our readers,” said Nancy San Martin, managing editor of el Nuevo Herald. “We want the kind of storytelling that gets readers to pause, think, share, discuss, react; journalism with the wow-factor.”

The partnership comes as FIJ celebrates its 50th anniversary and NAHJ celebrates its 35th year. All partners involved in the project believe promoting diversity in investigative journalism will increase public awareness and understanding of under-reported issues.

The deadline for proposals will be Oct. 7th. To apply please go to


Sandy Bergo, Executive Director, FIJ,
Alberto B. Mendoza, Executive Director, NAHJ,
Nancy San Martin, Managing Editor, el Nuevo Herald,

About the Fund for Investigative Journalism

The Fund for Investigative Journalism helps fund groundbreaking investigative stories that otherwise would not be told. FIJ issues a call three or four times a year to freelance and independent investigative journalists to apply for grants. Successful applicants can use the money for travel, data, documents and other reporting expenses.

About the National Association of Hispanic Journalists

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) is the largest organization of Latino journalists in the United States and dedicated to the recognition and professional advancement of Hispanics in the news industry. The mission of NAHJ is to increase the number of Latinos in the newsrooms and to work toward fair and accurate representation of Latinos in news media. Established in April 1984, NAHJ created a national voice and unified vision for all Hispanic journalists. NAHJ has approximately 2,300 members, including working journalists, journalism students, other media-related professionals and journalism educators. For more information please visit or follow on Twitter @NAHJ.

About the Miami Herald Media Company

The Miami Herald Media Company (MHMC) publishes two daily newspapers: the Miami Herald, winner of 22 Pulitzer Prizes, and el Nuevo Herald, an award-winning Spanish-language publication. Together, the company’s products reach more than 1.3 million people each week in South Florida.

In addition to the Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald, MHMC products include its news websites, and with a combined monthly traffic of 62.9 million pageviews and 22.6 million unique visitors; the popular local entertainment website; and INDULGE luxury magazine.  The company produces content for video, mobile and radio in association with WLRN/Herald News; as well as custom publications for hotels, airlines and other luxury clients through its subsidiary, HCP Media.

MHMC is owned by McClatchy.

FIJ at the National Association of Black Journalists Convention

The Fund for Investigative Journalism organized a panel at the National Association of Black Journalists convention in Miami, on August 7 to talk about the nitty-gritty of grants for journalists.

FIJ board member Lottie Joiner and Director of Operations Ana Arana answered questions from journalists about the best way to get story ideas funded.  Joiner encouraged journalists at the gathering to not be afraid to take the plunge and apply for grants to complete stories.  Also participating in the session were the Pulitzer Center’s senior editor Tom Hundley.


Ana Arana, left, Lottie Joiner, center, and Tom Hundley

FIJ Awards Grants to 10 Investigative Journalists

The board of directors of the Fund for Investigative Journalism (FIJ) has awarded $57,000 in 10 grants to investigative journalists in its most recent round of funding.

The grants will help cover the costs of reporting work, such as travel, document fees, and other out-of-pocket expenses.

The grant recipients are:

Peter Byrne, a Northern California-based investigative journalist and science writer,
Pamela Dempsey, executive director of the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting,
Bridget Hickey, a reporting fellow with the Columbia Journalism Investigations,
John Kelly, editor of The Chronicle of Social Change,
Jeff Kelly Lowenstein, a Michigan-based independent journalist,
Keith McQuirter, executive producer of Decoder Media, a New York City production company,
Vladimir Otasevic, a Montenegro-based investigative journalist,
Amanda Robb, a New York-based investigative journalist,
Mosi Secret, a New York-based investigative journalist,
Dylan Smith, editor of

A Postcard from FIJ Executive Director Sandy Bergo

At the Investigative Reporters and Editors Conference, Houston, June 14.

Executive Director Sandy Bergo explained to a roomful of journalists the ins and outs of applying for a Fund for Investigative Journalism grant. In the tradition set forth by founder Philip Stern, who launched FIJ in 1969, Bergo described how the Fund awards up to $10,000 to reporters to pursue investigations on government corruption and wrongdoing. The session also honored FIJ’s 50th anniversary.
It was co-led with Steve Sapienza of the Pulitzer Center. The session was opened to include introductions from two other grant-makers: Laird Townsend of FIRE and Jane Sasseen of The McGraw Business Journalism Fellowship.

Steve Sapienza, left, and Sandy Bergo

FIJ Diversity Fellow featured at IRE Panel in Houston

Angelika Albaladejo, a Fund for Investigative Journalism Diversity Fellow working with The Marshall Project, was featured in a panel at the Investigative Reporters and Editors conference in Houston on June 13. The panel focused on how to report on people from marginalized communities.

Albaladejo, who has a background in foreign policy, talked about her experience as a freelance journalist in Medellin, Colombia and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where she worked for two years focusing on social justice, crime, corruption, and security. She said she decided to go to Latin America to gather stories that “weren’t just about being a victim.”  She said she learned it was important to not expose her sources to harm, “that the story is not more important than their safety.”

Albaladejo has been published by the Guardian, CNN, Splinter, the World Policy Journal and the British Medical Journal, among others.

Albaladejo chats with a conference participant after her presentation. FIJ photo

Tips to Get Grants and Fellowships with Sandy Bergo and Steve Sapienza

Come join us Friday, June 14, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. for a brown bag lunch hosted by the Fund for Investigative Journalism (FIJ), in honor of its 50th Anniversary, at the 2019 IRE conference in Houston.

FIJ will team up with the Pulitzer Center to give out tips for winning reporting grants. FIJ Executive Director Sandy Bergo and Pulitzer Center Senior Strategist Steve Sapienza will explain the nitty-gritty of applying for grants and fellowships from both organizations and will answer any questions. Grab carry-out from one of the vendors at the hotel, then join us for the one-hour session in Kingwood, located on Level 3. We will provide drinks and desserts.

FIJ is a proud sponsor of the 2019 IRE conference     

Sandy Bergo (top) Steve Sapienza (bottom)         

Announcing FIJ’s 50th Anniversary Celebration

Join us at The Fund for Investigative Journalism’s 50th Anniversary Dinner featuring a Conversation with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh

Thursday, October 24, 2019
National Press Club
529 14th Street, NW
Washington, DC

We hope you will join us as we celebrate investigative journalism’s achievements over the last fifty years.

Click here to purchase tickets

The Fund for Investigative Journalism was founded in 1969 by the late Philip M. Stern, a public-spirited philanthropist who devoted his life “to balancing the scales of justice,” in the words of a friend. Stern was convinced small amounts of money invested in the work of determined journalists would yield enormous results in the fight against racism, poverty, corporate greed, and governmental corruption. Stern’s theory proved true in the Fund’s first year, when a modest-sized grant enabled reporter Seymour Hersh to begin investigating a tip concerning a U.S. Army massacre at the Vietnamese village of My Lai.

And it’s still true today. A grant from the Fund helped author Eliza Griswold win a Pulitzer Prize this year for her book “Amity and Prosperity,” an investigation of the fracking industry.

For further information, contact event planner Ivory Zorich,

A Postcard from FIJ Executive Director Sandy Bergo

(On a break from the Reva & David Logan Symposium on Investigative Reporting at the campus of the University of California – Berkeley.)

At the conference we heard Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists describe “how the sausage is made,” that is, how reporters come up with ideas, get interviews with reluctant sources, report in war zones, verify facts, and work with editors.

Hany Farid, a newly hired UC Berkeley computer science professor, showed us how easy it has become to manipulate audio and video so that, in his demonstration, Jordan Peele’s words were coming from Barack Obama’s mouth. He said the technology has a benign purpose, to help movie producers avoid using subtitles on foreign language films, but could be misused by public officials to deny that a video had accurately captured their words.

From left to right FIJ treasurer Mark Greenblatt and FIJ diversity fellow Maria Martin. To my left is Angelika Albaladejo.  Martin is an FIJ fellow working with Reveal this year; FIJ fellow Albaladejo is working with the Marshall Project for the year.