The Fund for Investigative Journalism

Supporting investigative reporting projects around the world

  • Next Deadline: Feb. 5, 2018 (11:59 pm Eastern)

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    FIJ Awards $58,500 in New Grants

    August 23rd, 2017

    Washington – The Fund for Investigative Journalism (FIJ) has awarded $58,500 to cover the costs of eleven new investigations being undertaken by independent reporters in the US and around the world. The grants help freelance journalists and nonprofit news centers with reporting expenses such as travel and document fees.

    The journalists receiving grants include:

    Daffodil Altan, Investigative Reporting Program, University of California – Berkeley

    Robert Gutsche, Jr., professor, Florida International University – Miami

    Myron Levin, FairWarning

    Kari Lydersen, Chicago journalist and Northwestern University professor

    Brendan McCarthy, Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting

    Robert McClure, InvestigateWest

    Tom Stevenson, investigative journalist based in Istanbul

    Silvia Vinas, Radio Ambulante

    Ali Winston, reporting fellow, Investigative Fund

    The names of some grantees are being withheld at their request.

    Applications are currently being taken at investigate.submittable.com. The Fund for Investigative Journalism has raised the maximum award to $10,000. Requests for mentors are also being accepted as part of the application process. The next deadline is September 25.

    Applications are also being taken for a grant/fellowship program conducted with FIJ’s partner, the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University. That program will award four grants, up to $10,000, along with fellowships at the Schuster Institute, to support reporting by diverse journalists with an emphasis on women and people of color.  The deadline to apply is November 1.

    Investigations Raise Questions about State Lotteries

    August 23rd, 2017

    Massachusetts has more repeat lottery winners than any other state, and some are redeeming so many winning tickets that they’re raising questions about the integrity of the $5 billion state lottery. Massachusetts officials have long suspected that some frequent winners cash lottery tickets for others who don’t want to claim the money themselves because of taxes, child support or other debts, wrote Michael Levenson of the Boston Globe and Jeff Kelly Lowenstein, a visiting professor at Columbia last semester.

    The story was part of an analysis of nearly 11 million lottery records from 34 states by PennLive.com and students at Columbia University’s Graduate School.

    In Connecticut, a handful of big lottery winners show up again and again. A first-ever analysis of lottery winnings dating back to mid-1998, conducted by the Hartford Courant in collaboration with students at the Columbia journalism school, found 57 people who have won $1,000 or more at least 50 times.

    The projects in Massachusetts and Connecticut are part of an international investigation involving reporters from Africa, Europe and the United States.

    [Reporting for this project was provided by the Green Park Foundation.]

    IRE conference provided an opportunity to learn and be part of journalism community

    August 9th, 2017

    Four of FIJ’s diversity fellows came from near and far to attend this year’s Investigative Reporters and Editors conference in Phoenix this past June. For the fellows, it was more than just about learning new skills. It was also about being part of a community.

    FIJ Board President Ricardo Sandoval-Palos joined the FIJ/Schuster fellows for a reception.

    Michele Chabin traveled 6,000 miles from Jerusalem to attend the gathering.

    “Working from another continent, from a home office and not a newsroom, it’s easy to feel isolated,” Chabin said.

    She added: “How wonderful it was to network, to learn, through personal conversations and workshops, that others are dealing with the same challenges: the need to work faster due to the 24/7 social media news cycle; the importance of learning new technology (I didn’t know how to do customized searches on Facebook); and the value of maintaining relationships with sources even after the story has ended.”

    Chabin was a speaker at the conference, taking part on a panel about religious organizations – a key element of her research as an FIJ/Schuster Institute fellow.

    For Sonia Paul, conferences can sometimes be intimidating “for a freelance journalist like me whose reporting instincts have never quite fallen into any one particular journalism tribe… While attending this year’s IRE conference as an FIJ/Schuster fellow didn’t wholly resolve some of those issues, it certainly helped make me feel like I was part of a community.”

    Attending the conference, she said, also served as a painful reminder about how far the journalism industry has yet to go to become more diverse and inclusive.

    That reminder wasn’t lost on Stacy Thacker.

    “At just about every conference I’ve been to there is the diversity conversation but I could see some of those results in IR,” she said. “There were multiple stories of what IRE used to look like compared to now. I could even see it in my group, there were four Native American journalist at IRE, including me, and while we had a small number I was glad to see a number at all.”

    Thacker was grateful for an opportunity to take part on a panel focusing on coverage of Native America.

    Of course, there was a lot of learning going on, too. Lisa Armstrong, for one, discovered new research tools that she immediately put to use.

    “As an investigative journalist, it’s sometimes hard for me not just to find phone numbers but other information about sources who are often reluctant to talk,” Armstrong said.

    Online social media networks present a new trove of information, she said. One tool in particular, StalkScan, has provided her more powerful ways of harvesting information from Facebook that has allowed her to expand a network of possible sources.

    Earlier this year, FIJ sent three of the seven diversity fellows to the Logan Symposium hosted by the University of California, Berkeley.

     (In photo: Lisa Armstrong, far left, shared a photo of the group in Phoenix. She was joined by, left to right, Stacy Thacker, Michele Chabin, FIJ Board President Ricardo Sandoval Palos, Sonia Paul and Lottie Joiner.)

    FIJ, Schuster Institute boost diversity in social justice investigative reporting

    July 24th, 2017

    Accepting Applications for 2018:

    The Fund for Investigative Journalism (FIJ) and the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University are accepting applications for a project designed to broaden opportunities for diverse journalists in independent investigative reporting. The initiative invites applications that will enhance opportunities for investigative reporting on social justice issues, with an emphasis on supporting women and people of color.

    Pioneered with support from the Ford Foundation, this is the second consecutive year that grants and matching fellowships will be offered to help journalists of diverse backgrounds — widely recognized as underrepresented in the ranks of U.S. independent investigative reporters — to report and write important stories about unreported or underreported social justice issues.

    Four independent, U.S.-based reporters with strong proposals to investigate significant systemic or social justice issues will be selected.  One of those will be chosen as a “Rising Star” who will also receive funding for mentorship support. Read the rest of this entry »

    Logan Symposium inspires FIJ/Schuster Institute fellows

    June 21st, 2017

    The Logan Symposium hosted in April by the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, provided some of our FIJ/Schuster Institute fellows an opportunity to meet and learn from some of investigative journalism’s best.

    For Linda Matchan, the symposium helped restore the “bounce” in her step and renewed her commitment to a discipline that, she said, can sometimes be discouraging because of “the many logistical and human obstacles that stand in the way” of stories.

    Like the other fellows, she learned immensely from the discussions led by some of the profession’s most celebrated talents.

    Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold, who recently won a Pulitzer for his reporting on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, was especially helpful in getting our fellows to think beyond traditional reporting and storytelling.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Hiring of director of operations underway, as FIJ looks to grow

    June 10th, 2017

    Applications are in for a Director of Operations, a new FIJ position that will help Executive Director Sandy Bergo and the Board of Directors advance the organization’s mission of supporting independent investigative journalists.

    The new staffer will help ensure organizational effectiveness and efficiency. The position will oversee FIJ.org, publish this monthly newsletter and assist in managing grants, among other duties.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Scientists race to understand role of ‘black carbon’ in melting Arctic

    June 5th, 2017

    As warming temperatures thaw the Arctic, pressure is mounting to develop new sources of oil and gas and expand shipping routes throughout the region. As Madeline Ostrander reports for “ensia,” the Arctic is especially vulnerable to a type of air pollution called black carbon, and scientists are scrambling to understand and mitigate its impacts before it’s too late.

    (Photo by Madeline Ostrander: Scientists study the impacts of air pollution on the Arctic in this remote lab outside of Utqiaġvik, Alaska.)

    [Reporting for this project was sponsored by the Park Foundation.]

    2017 FIJ diversity fellows get to work; head to IRE, Logan conferences

    May 14th, 2017

    Seven journalsts selected as diversity fellows by the Schuster Institute and the Fund for Investigative Journalism have begun working on their projects.As they continue their reporting, the fellows will take part in training and networking conferences — thanks to the generosity of Jon Logan and the Reva and David Logan Foundation.Three of the fellows are spending the final days of April at the University of California, Berkeley, for the invitation-only Logan Symposium. The remaining four head to Phoenix in June for the IRE conference.Funding from the Logan Foundation allows FIJ to pay the full cost of registration, airfare and accomodations for the fellows.

    Lisa Armstrong, Michele Chabin, Lottie Joiner, Jaeah Lee and Linda Matchan were announced earlier this year as FIJ Schuster Institute Social Justice Investigative Reporting Fellows. Sonia Paul and Stacy Thacker were selected as investigative “rising stars.”

    The fellowships, underwritten by the Ford Foundation, hopes to increase the ranks of women and journalists of color in a field where they have been underrepresented.

    In other news: FIJ recently announced $120,000 in grants for investigative journalism. Visit FIJ.org for a list of the latest grant recipients. Read the rest of this entry »

    The Fund for Investigative Journalism Is Hiring

    May 2nd, 2017

    The Fund for Investigative Journalism seeks Director of Operations

    The Fund for Investigative Journalism (FIJ) helps fund groundbreaking investigative stories that otherwise would not be told. Founded in 1969, FIJ makes grants to independent investigative journalists who have great tips, ideas, and sources, but need financial resources to do their work.

    FIJ is governed by a board of experienced investigative journalists. It is an organization of journalists helping journalists by raising the funds that make independent watchdog reporting possible.

    To help meet the growing needs of investigative journalists who work independently, without the resources or protection of media organizations and newsrooms, FIJ is hiring a Director of Operations.

    The Director of Operations oversees all office operations and procedures to ensure organizational effectiveness and efficiency and reports directly to the Executive Director. Read the rest of this entry »

    March 2017 Newsletter

    April 1st, 2017

    NEXT APPLICATION DEADLINE: Monday, May 22, 2017


    MARCH 2017
    The Park Foundation gives generously in support of investigative journalism

    The Park Foundation is extending its support of independent watchdog journalism. The foundation announced this month that it is awarding FIJ another $50,000.This is the seventh year the Park Foundation has given toward FIJ’s mission.

    “This is a vote of confidence in the Fund’s expanding role as an underwriter of vital, independent investigative reporting,” said Ricardo Sandoval-Palos, chair of FIJ’s Board of Directors. “The Park Foundation’s support fuels our ability to underwrite outstanding journalism.”

    The Park Foundation’s grants support media work such as investigative reporting, public broadcasting and documentary filmmaking. The foundation’s other philanthropic causes include the environment and animal welfare.

    Foundation’s Fundraising Challenge Continues

    The Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation awarded FIJ $50,000 for the coming year – and pledged $25,000 more if FIJ can come up with $25,000 in new donations from other donors by Jan. 31. FIJ encourages supporters – including individual donors – to help secure the matching funds.


    HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MONTH
    Kurdish militia behind Arab expulsions in Syria

    Ibrahim Abo Omar, 61, a Syrian Arab, describes the eviction of his family from their home in Tel Abyad, Syria, last spring by the Kurdish YPG militia. “They just locked the door. Put the keys in their pocket.” (Photo for The Nation by Roy Gutman)


     

    Roy Gutman set out to investigate
    what appeared to be an ethnically motivated mass expulsion of Arabs in northern Syria from late 2014 through mid-2015 by a Kurdish militia allied with the United States, the People’s Protection Units (YPG).

    While Gutman could not document any systematic “ethnic cleansing,” he found evidence that the militia, the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), had organized widespread expulsions of Arabs, a war crime under international humanitarian law, and systematically violated the human rights of Kurds and Arabs in northern Syria. The expulsions were largely political, undertaken at the behest of the Assad regime, with which the YPG is closely allied.

    A six-month investigation for The Nation shows that the militia has evicted Arabs from their homes under threat of violence starting in 2013 and subsequently has blown up, torched, or bulldozed their homes and villages.

    In addition, Gutman found that the Syrian militia has used whatever means necessary to recruit fighters, even at gunpoint, as it kills political opponents and suppresses the news media.

    Central to Gutman’s reporting is the struggle for Kurdish independence, which has had a long and violent history across Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran.

    Debris from a demolished home is loaded onto a truck. Detroit’s demolition protocol requires that dust be sprayed down, which is not occurring in this case. (Photo for The Nation by Eilís O’Neill)


     

    In cities like Detroit, demolishing old buildings might help rejuvenate blighted neighborhoods. But doing so has unintended consequences, according to a report by Eilís O’Neill for The Nation.

    The problem with destroying tens of thousands of old homes is that many are covered in lead paint, and demolition crews risk unleashing clouds of lead dust into the environment — near schools, bus stops and neighborhoods with young families — and threatening the health of children.

     

    Read the rest of this entry »