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Pulitzer Center Update December 14, 2020

Q&A: What You Need to Know to Join the Rainforest Investigations Network

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The Pulitzer Center recently announced the launch of one of its most ambitious new initiatives, the Rainforest Investigations Network. In its first year of activity, the network will select at least 10 fellows to receive financial and editorial support to investigate the most pressing issues driving deforestation in the Amazon, Congo Basin, and Southeast Asia. 

We are thrilled to see the high interest the initiative has created among journalists. We have collected some of your most common questions (and our answers) in this guide to help you in the application process. Don't forget, December 20, 2020, is the deadline to apply for the RIN fellowships.

What is the Rainforest Investigations Network?

The Rainforest Investigations Network, or RIN, is a new Pulitzer Center initiative designed to facilitate cross-border investigative reporting on stories at the intersection of deforestation, corruption, and governance. We believe that the destruction of the planet's tropical rainforests in the Amazon, Congo Basin, and Southeast Asia is one of the most urgent stories of our time. The new network will tackle the connections of industrial-scale deforestation to global supply chains, legal loopholes, and illegal money flows. 

Who can participate? Staff or freelance journalists?

Staff and freelance journalists can participate. We seek experienced investigative reporters, passionate about business and environmental stories, and willing to work collaboratively with other journalists.  

Do I have to live in a rainforest region to participate?

We are recruiting two categories of fellows: regional and global fellows. The regional fellows must be based in the countries that are home to tropical rainforests in the Amazon, Congo Basin, or Southeast Asia. Exceptions to this rule may be evaluated if proposals from neighboring countries explain the connections between the neighboring country and the rainforest region. Global fellows can be based anywhere in the world; they must work for (or be hosted by) a media organization with global reach.

What are the benefits of being a fellow? 

  • The Pulitzer Center will cover your salary for a year. Your media organization will also receive financial support (see below for more details). 
  • You will get to work with a group of top-notch journalists from around the world on stories of regional and global impact. 
  • The Pulitzer Center will provide coordination and data support to the network. 

Can I send a proposal without endorsement from a media outlet?

No. Regardless of whether you are sending your proposal as a freelancer or as a staff member, a letter of support by the media organization that employs you or has agreed to host you during your fellowship is required.

Is it possible to send proposals as a team or through my editors?

No. Proposals must be submitted by the fellowship applicant. 

How much financial support will fellows receive?

There is no set amount. We will determine a reporter's annual salary in a particular country after talking with the fellow and the fellow's media outlets. 

How long is the fellowship?

The fellowship lasts a year with the possibility of renewal based on performance. 

Are there resources to pay for travel?

The outlets hosting the fellows will receive $10,000 to cover travel and other editorial costs.

How detailed should my project proposal be?

Your proposal should demonstrate that you have done substantial pre-research on the stories you want to pursue, including hypotheses that guide the work, data sources, and investigative methodology. It is not necessary to detail how many stories will be produced, but we want to see that there is an ambitious, coherent, and realistic reporting plan in place. 

Should I be exclusively dedicated to the investigative project?

Yes. We expect that this will be the fellow's main reporting commitment for the year. 

Are there expectations for frequency of publication? 

There is no pre-established frequency. The pace of publications will be determined by the editors of the outlets that host the fellows.

What level of collaboration will take place among the fellows?

RIN is rooted in the principle that collaboration and sharing of data, expertise, and investigative methods result in stronger stories with broader regional and global impact. While each fellow will pursue his or her own investigation(s), we envision robust collaboration among the fellows and occasional cross-regional joint reporting when a bigger story merits that approach.  

What is the difference between RIN and the Rainforest Journalism Fund (RJF)?

RIN and RJF are similar initiatives thematically, but they operate independently and use different approaches. While RJF funds journalists seeking support for a specific story related to tropical rainforests, RIN focuses on longer-term projects and a collaborative and cross-regional investigative approach.

Who is the primary funder of the network?

RIN is funded by Norway's International Climate and Forests Initiative. 

What is the Pulitzer Center's role in the editorial process?

The Pulitzer Center will coordinate and support the network, including data support, but the fellows and their outlets will have total editorial independence to do their work. Fellows may seek guidance and advice from RIN's editors as needed. 

Is editorial independence guaranteed?

Totally. Without any restriction.

How should I send my proposal? 

Proposals can be sent through this online form. Preferably they should be written in English, but we also accept submissions in Bahasa Indonesia, Spanish, French, and Portuguese. 

When is the deadline to apply for a RIN fellowship? 

Applications will be reviewed, and interviews will be scheduled on a rolling basis. Early applications are encouraged. The last day to apply is Dec. 20, 2020, at 11:59pm EST.

If you have questions, please contact Gustavo Faleiros at gfaleiros@pulitzercenter.org

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