The Fund for Investigative Journalism

Supporting investigative reporting projects around the world

  • Next Deadline: May 7, 2018 (11:59 pm Eastern)

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    Bobby Caina Calvan Joins FIJ as Director of Operations

    September 19th, 2017

    (Washington) – The Fund for Investigative Journalism (FIJ) announced today that Bobby Caina Calvan has been named Director of Operations. Calvan is a veteran journalist with experience covering breaking news on political and government beats as well as longform feature writing for major news services and outlets. He has been a reporter for Associated Press, the Boston Globe, and the Sacramento Bee.

    Making the announcement, Sandy Bergo, executive director of FIJ, said “Bobby’s talent and dedication will help FIJ serve a greater number of investigative journalists to meet the growing need for accountability coverage of public officials and institutions. I am thrilled that he is joining FIJ to help fulfill, and expand our mission.”

    Calvan also has important experience mentoring young journalists, and working with diversity issues, as a reporter, lecturer, and in leadership positions with the Asian American Journalists Association. His multiplatform, website, and social media skills are especially valuable in his new role. During the past year, Calvan has worked as a consultant helping to promote the work accomplished by FIJ grantees. He will continue in that role as a staff member.

    The Fund for Investigative Journalism 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.

    In North Carolina, questions emerge over housing the mentally ill

    September 9th, 2017

    A team from Carolina Public Press reviewed three years of public records for all 1,200 adult care homes in North Carolina and conducted dozens of interviews with regulators, patient advocates, facility managers and others. The result was a series of stories revealing the inconsistencies and troubling issues that undermine the regulation and oversight of these private, for-profit facilities.

    (Photo by Colby Rabon/Carolina Public Press: A New Outlook of Taylorsville is an adult care home in rural Alexander County in North Carolina. Residents started a fire there in December 2014. The facility remains open, with zero stars, according to state regulators.)

    [Reporting for this project was provided by the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.]

    New Hampshire takes unique approach in housing mentally ill

    September 6th, 2017

    With no place to house some mentally ill people who could pose a danger to themselves or others, New Hampshire has taken the unusual step of housing them in the psychiatric unit of the state prison — even if they haven’t committed a crime, according to a report by Nancy West, co-published by and the New Hampshire Business Review. That’s despite warnings by the New Hampshire Psychiatric Society three decades ago advising against commingling civilly committed individuals with convicted criminals. Some states, West noted, have banned the practice even for very brief holds.

    (Photo by Nancy West: “Therapy booths” are used for group therapy for some mentally ill patients at the Secure Psychiatric Unit at the New Hampshire State Prison for Men in Concord, New Hampshire.)

    [Reporting for this project was provided by the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.]

    FIJ projects by InvestigateWest spur lawmakers in 2 states to act

    August 30th, 2017

    A pair of projects by InvestigateWest continues FIJ’s long tradition of supporting journalism that makes a difference. Lawmakers in the states of Washington and Oregon credit the outlet for spurring change.

    The outlet’s investigation into Washington’s foster care system prompted new laws and a $48 million funding boost to tackle some of the system’s woes.

    In Oregon, InvestigateWest’s “Unequal Justice” project moved the Legislature to pass laws seeking to address the unfair treatment of people of color by the criminal justice system.

    The package, as noted by the Washington Post, “found that minority residents were far more likely to be charged for dozens of crimes, from minor infractions such as littering and jaywalking to more serious offenses, such as robbery.”

    FIJ couldn’t do its work without its generous patrons.We appreciate longtime funders such as the Nicholas B. Ottaway Foundation, which recently gave another $25,000. FIJ board member David Ottaway is a member of the Ottaway family.

    And we thank new benefactors, including the Scripps Howard Foundation, which gave $5,000 to help revamp FIJ’s mentorship program. Applicants for the current round of grants — the deadline is Sept. 25 — can request a mentor through the Submittable platform.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    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 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 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, publish this monthly newsletter and assist in managing grants, among other duties.

    Read the rest of this entry »