The Double Exposure: Investigative Film Festival and Symposium is in its fifth year of celebrating accountability journalism through a mixture of panel discussions, film screenings, and interactive workshops. As a an official festival partner, the Pulitzer Center hosted an interactive fact-checking workshop, and Managing Director Nathalie Applewhite participated in the “Ask Me Anything: Meet the Funders” panel discussion.
"Meet the Funders" panelists answered anonymous audience questions to the tune of: “everything you always wanted to know from funder but were afraid to ask,” as the festival puts it. Applewhite spoke alongside other funders including the International Documentary Association, Firelight Media Documentary Lab, Working Films, and the MacArthur Foundation.
Festival leaders crowdsourced questions about funding filmmakers from marginalized communities, how organizations approach safety and security issues for journalists abroad, as well as funders' philosophies on staff underwriting costs. When asked about what factors funders considered most important when selecting grantees, they agreed that following the proposal guidelines outlined on their websites was essential for successful candidates.
Panelists also noted that timely projects with clear public outreach and impact potential usually float to the top of the list. Applewhite added that a prospective grantee's track record as a journalist is important for establishing credibility, because the Center wants to fund committed journalists who are invested in the topics they cover.
"We want it to come from the journalist. We want this to be their passion project," said Applewhite.
In addition to funding journalism that raises awareness of critically underreported issues around the globe, the Pulitzer Center also invests heavily in educational outreach to schools and colleges around the country.
"Education is such a key component for us that we want to be in classrooms and a journalist that wants to take that journey with us," said Applewhite. This educational component coupled with a solid outreach and distribution plan are at the heart of the Pulitzer Center's mission, which funds in-depth reporting from individual freelancers to entire newsrooms covering domestic and international issues.
Applewhite also spoke about getting creative when it comes to scraping together funding. “I think most freelance journalists have to hustle any way they can," said Applewhite. "When I was working as a documentary filmmaker, I was working in restaurants, I was working in production offices, I was just making money wherever I could to support it, and I know that that just means a lot of long, long shifts, but it does pay off."