The Pulitzer Center is seeking applications for in-depth and investigative stories related to science misinformation, science denial, and the spread of pseudoscience. We’re also interested in journalistic approaches to identifying and addressing the scourge of scientific misinformation and disinformation.
The Pulitzer Center is eager to support timely, in-depth journalism projects that tackle science denial and the spread of science misinformation and disinformation for its new Truth Decay grant initiative. This opportunity is open to all newsroom staff and independent journalists in the United States and abroad.
The goal of this new initiative is two-fold: 1) to expose the purveyors and platforms that spread science misinformation and disinformation with accountability journalism; and 2) to support newsrooms and journalists to develop their own innovative responses to the spread of mistruths in their communities or countries.
We are eager to receive proposals that explore:
- How and why scientific misinformation and pseudoscience spreads and the role journalists play in exposing and countering it;
- The challenges of reporting on science with non-stop news cycles, science disinformation campaigns, and increasingly fragmented and siloed audiences;
- Who is creating the science misinformation and who is benefiting from its creation, and what forces or organizations are enabling the flows of anti-science "studies" and misinformation to circulate;
- Unique and different perspectives on pseudoscience and misinformation in mass media and society;
This is a pilot initiative, so please propose ideas related to science and misinformation that most resonate with your audiences and communities today. We are open to all forms of investigative journalism for this initiative, from data journalism, radio and podcasts, to news and documentary videos.
We also encourage potential grantees to bring us proposals with their most creative and innovative solutions for reaching new audiences with small, targeted packages of their reporting on a variety of platforms such as Instagram or TikTok, or anywhere your audience exists.
Beyond contemporary broadcast, social media, or digital publishing platforms, our past grantees have routinely surprised us with very novel ways of reaching audiences with their work. They’ve shared their reporting via shortwave radio with Indigenous tribes, bus stop poster campaigns, and even with comic books and poetry performances.
We are open to any topics as long as they are underreported and relate to the spread of science misinformation, science denial or disinformation. For inspiration, here are a couple of recent projects we supported:
- Documentary: The Pandemic and Fake News in the Upper Xingu | Fábio Zuker and Thomaz Marcondes Garcia Pedro
- "Post-Trump, Christian Nationalists Preach a Theology of Vaccine Resistance" | Jack Jenkins
To apply, you will be asked to provide the following:
- A description of the proposed project in no more than 250 words.
- A preliminary budget estimate, including a basic breakdown of costs.
- A compelling distribution plan with letters of support from publishers and/or broadcasters.
We aim to support teams that reflect the communities they report on. We hope this grant can help our partner organizations advance their diversity, equity, and inclusion goals and commitments.
We accept grant proposals on a rolling basis.
Please refer to “Tips for Writing a Successful Pulitzer Center Grant Proposal” for more information on how to apply.
The Truth Decay grant initiative is funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Department of Science Education. HHMI is the leading private nonprofit supporter of scientific research and science education in the United States.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is eligible to apply?
This opportunity is open to U.S. residents and journalists around the world. We are open to proposals from freelance journalists, staff journalists, or groups of newsrooms working in collaboration with a project idea. We want to make sure that people from many backgrounds and perspectives are empowered to produce journalism. We strongly encourage proposals from journalists and newsrooms who represent a broad array of social, racial, ethnic, underrepresented groups, and economic backgrounds.
When will you be notifying applicants on whether they've been selected?
We begin reviewing applications as soon as they are received and typically notify applicants within a month if they're being considered for support. If there is some urgency to the field reporting, the applicant should state the reason in the application.
What is the budget range for proposals?
We do not have a budget range. We will consider projects of any scope and size, and we are open to supporting multiple projects each year.
Do you pay stipends or salaries for freelance journalists?
We expect news organizations to pay freelance journalists for their work, though in exceptional cases, we may consider stipends to cover a reporter's time, if provided in the budget with an explanation. It is OK to include costs of contractors, such as data researchers, illustrators, or data visualization/story designers in your proposal and budget. Please do not include stipends for journalists/team members who are in the employ of newsrooms or are being paid by a publisher.
What are examples of editorial products or project expenses that the Pulitzer Center grants DON’T cover?
- Books (we can support a story that might become part of a book, as long as the story is published independently in a media outlet)
- Feature-length films (we do support short documentaries with ambitious distribution plans)
- Staff salaries
- Equipment purchases (equipment rentals are considered on a case-by-case basis)
- An outlet’s general expenses (for example rent, utilities, insurance)
- Seed money for start-ups
- Routine breaking news and coverage
- Advocacy/marketing campaigns
- Data projects aimed solely at academic research. Data should be developed to enhance/support journalism.
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