The Pulitzer Center encourages proposals that use advanced data mining techniques, such as machine learning and natural language processing, to solve a data or reporting problem related to a journalistic investigation.

Recent grantees have used machine learning to reveal the true scope of oil-well abandonment in Texas; hold land banks accountable in Ohio; and map the proliferation of gold mines in the Amazon rainforest. 

These projects harnessed machine learning to augment the reporters’ capacity to tackle big data and systemic issues. The reporters combined the use of machine learning with geospatial analysis, satellite imagery, and traditional shoe-leather reporting, among other approaches. 

Another interesting characteristic of the projects we have supported so far is that they all involved collaborative work, whether across newsrooms or disciplines. We encourage journalists to seek smart partnerships that can complement their skills and perspectives. 

We're seeking compelling data-driven storytelling—based on original and transparent data collection and analysis—that has the potential to shape public discourse and hold the powerful accountable.

For inspiration, check out the projects we have supported so far: 

In this grant we encourage radical transparency and sharing of methodologies and code, including ethics considerations that informed the research and reporting as well as data limitations, so each story produced can serve as a blueprint for other newsrooms pursuing similar projects. 

To apply, you will be asked to provide the following:

  • A description of the proposed project (250 words). We look more favorably on proposals that include a thoughtful distribution plan and letter(s) of interest or support from publishers or editors
  • Methodology: Please describe your approach to collecting and analyzing the data, and include your approach for fact-checking or independently verifying the data that will be used in your reporting. Please explain any plans you may have to make the code or the data publicly available after publication of the stories 
  • A preliminary budget estimate, including a basic breakdown of costs. Include travel costs, software, satellite/GIS, or hardware costs. Please do not include stipends for journalists/team members who are in the employ of newsrooms or are being paid by a publisher. If you are a journalist collaborating with a data analyst, coder, and/or data visual specialist, you may include consultant fees in your budget.
  • Three examples (links) of published work by you (or someone on your project team)
  • Three professional references. These can be either contact information or letters of recommendation
  • A copy of your resume or curriculum vitae
  • Applications may also include a more detailed description of the project and reporting plan 

We will consider projects of any scope and size. Please choose a team leader to submit the proposal, and submit only one project per journalist, data team, or newsroom.

This grant opportunity is now open, and applications will be reviewed on a first-come, rolling basis. 

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 data journalists, staff journalists, or groups of newsrooms working in collaboration on a data project idea. We want to make sure that people from many backgrounds and perspectives are empowered to produce data 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 review applications on a rolling basis, 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 the data journalism proposals?

We do not have a budget range for these Machine Learning Grants. We will consider projects of any scope and size and we are open to supporting multiple projects each year. Most awards for our past data journalism project support has been between $10,000-$25,000, but may be more or less depending on circumstances.

Do you pay stipends or salaries for freelance journalists?

We expect news organizations to pay journalists for their work, though in some 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 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.