Coronavirus Response

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COVID-19 conspiracy theories can be a risky beat

Reporter Davey Alba, who covers technology and disinformation at The New York Times, tells CPJ about her experiences covering COVID-19 conspiracy theories and the resulting campaign of online harassment that she faced. CPJ publishes a Digital Safety Note for journalists who face targeted online attacks after reporting on misinformation, conspiracy theories, and/or false news. (AFP/Mark Ralston)

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    External Resources

    COVID-19 Emergency Funds for Journalists

    The following funding opportunities are available to journalists struggling due to COVID-19. This list will be updated as more funds and information become available.

    • AIR: The Freelance Audio Fund is available to AIR members in good standing. An additional fund will likely be made available to non-member audio makers and freelancers and small newsrooms.
    • Economic Hardship Reporting Project: The Economic Hardship Reporting Project (EHRP), a non-profit organization that supports journalists reporting on financial insecurity and poverty, has launched a relief fund to provide grants to journalists who are dealing with economic instability due to COVID-19. Journalists can apply for emergency grants here.  
    • European Journalism Centre: The European Journalism Centre and the Facebook Journalism Project have created a $3 million European Journalism COVID-19 Support Fund for small and medium-sized European news organizations. News organizations can apply for three different types of funding, including emergency support.
    • Field of Vision and Topic Studios: Field of Vision and Topic Studios have a $250,000 fund to support freelancers working in the documentary field. Grants of up to $2,000 will be distributed to journalists who have suffered economic hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications are accepted every month. More information can be found here.
    • Format: Self-employed photographers facing financial hardship due to COVID-19 can apply to Format’s Photographer Fund for grants of up to $500 per person.
    • Freelancers Union: The Freelancers Union’s Freelancers Relief Fund is offering grants of up to $1,000 per freelance household to cover lost income and essential expenses such as food and utility payments that are not covered by government relief programs.
    • Fund for Investigative Journalism: The Fund for Investigative Journalism (FIJ) is offering emergency grants for U.S. freelancers who are reporting on the coronavirus, particularly around stories that break new ground and expose wrongdoing. The average grant will be around $5,000, but can be as high as $10,000.
    • Getty Images: Visual journalists reporting on stories related to COVID-19 can apply for one of eight $5,000 Getty Images Reportage Grants. Special consideration will be given to those working in their own cities or immediate regions. Submissions close on May 15, 2020.
    • IWMF: The International Women’s Media Foundation has created a Journalism Relief Fund with grants up to $2,000 for women-identifying journalists who face significant financial hardship, lost work, were recently laid off or who urgently need assistance.
    • Microloans for Journalists: A group of four journalists created Microloans for Journalists for fellow journalists who have been laid off, furloughed, or had their hours reduced. Journalists can apply for an interest-free $500 loan, agreed to be paid back within one year. The money will come from other journalists who have donated to the fund. Learn more and apply here.
    • National Geographic: The COVID-19 Emergency Fund will distribute support ranging from $1,000–8,000 for local coverage of the preparation, response, and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund is open to writers, photographers, videographers, audio journalists, cartographers, filmmakers, and data visualization experts.
    • PEN America: PEN America’s Writers’ Emergency Fund will distribute grants of between $500 and $1,000 to fiction and non-fiction authors, poets, playwrights, screenwriters, translators, and journalists. Applicants must be a professional writer based in the U.S.
    • Balkan Investigative Reporting Network: Reporting Democracy, a project run by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, is giving grants to freelance and staff journalists covering stories of the COVID-19 crisis in Central, Eastern, and Southeast Europe. Successful proposals will receive a grant of between 500 and 2,500 euros. More information, including a list of eligible countries, can be found here.

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