FIJ Awards Grants to Investigative Journalists

WASHINGTON – (June 8, 2011) The Board of Directors of the Fund for Investigative Journalism has awarded eleven grants to independent watchdog journalists in the United States, Asia, Africa, and Europe.

The board awarded $35,200 in grants to cover travel and other reporting expenses for investigative stories that otherwise would not be told. Significant support from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, the Park Foundation, the Green Park Foundation, the Gannett Foundation, and generous donations from individuals made these grants possible.

The Fund has supported investigative journalism by independent journalists since 1969.

Recently, projects completed with FIJ support include the book “All the Justice Money Can Buy: Corporate Greed on Trial,” by Snigdha Prakash. Her book chronicles the seven-week trial of the lawsuit filed by patients allegedly injured by the painkiller Vioxx. With unusual all-hours access to the plaintiff’s litigation team, she is able to tell the inside story of their preparation and strategy, with anecdotes from early morning and late night strategy sessions.  Prakash won the $25,000 Gene Roberts book award in 2009.

City Limits Magazine’s May/June issue contains a report funded by FIJ, “Behind Bars: Female Inmates, Male Guards and Sex Crimes in New York’s Prisons.” The Magazine’s Kelly Virella investigated why New York has some of the highest rates of prison inmate sexual abuse in the country, how the prison system handles abuse complaints, and how little authorities do to prevent it. In some cases, City Limits found, guards initiate “romances” with women inmates.

In North Carolina, Rebekah Cowell is writing a series of articles for The Independent Weekly, documenting how low-income neighborhoods become sites for other peoples’ waste. She finds a lax official attitude toward cleaning up the mess in poor neighborhoods, and government units that buy land cheaply without concern for the health of nearby residents.

Joel Brinkley’s book, “Cambodia’s Curse: The Modern History of a Troubled Land,” was also published this Spring. He discovered “willful management” of the country, malnourishment, rampant government corruption, and a high incidence of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder among those who survived the Khmer Rouge era. He wrote: “These afflictions have darkened the entire nation’s personality.”

Read more about FIJ-supported projects at where the next deadline for applications will be posted.

Among the journalists receiving recent awards:

Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock, a public radio reporter

Burt Hubbard, reporting for I-News: The Rocky Mountain Investigative News Network

Wanjohi Kabukuru, reporting for New African Magazine

Susan Mernit, editor/publisher of Oakland Local

Jarrett Murphy, editor-in-chief, City Limits Magazine

Mike Sherry, founder, Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting

Guy Taylor, world news blogger and multi-media journalist & editor

Brad Tyer, Montana-based author and blogger

Stefano Valentino, based in Rome and Brussels, reporting on human rights and natural resources issues

and Colin Woodard, Maine-based author, magazine writer, and blogger

The topics of grantees’ investigations are confidential until completed. In addition to critical funding, grantees receive editorial guidance from mentors through a partnership with Investigative Reporters and Editors.

The Fund for Investigative Journalism is an independent, non-profit organization that has supported hundreds of public service reporting projects since 1969, when it provided funding for Seymour Hersh to investigate a tip about the massacre of Vietnamese civilians in My Lai. His stories won the Pulitzer Prize.

Journalists with questions about the grant application process are encouraged to contact executive director Sandy Bergo by phone, 202-391-0206, or email, [email protected].