Hurry! Applications for the 1st round of NFI Fellowships for Independent Journalists are now open till December 15th, 2020

Hurry! Applications for the 1st round of NFI Fellowships for Independent Journalists are now open till December 15th, 2020

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published Published on Nov 20, 2020   modified Modified on Nov 20, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have multiple impacts on our lives. Existing challenges have been exacerbated and new ones have emerged. Across the country, individuals, communities, businesses and governments are responding differently. Covid has claimed many casualties. Good reportage need not be one of them.

The pandemic and the consequent economic slowdown have also taken its toll on good journalism. At this moment, we need good journalism to be stronger than ever before. Journalists need support to report deeply on stories that matter.

To support credible and independent journalism, the National Foundation for India has launched the media fellowship programme for independent journalists. Under the programme, several grants will be made to independent journalists on a rolling-basis every quarter, beginning November 2020.

The fellowship

The inaugural round is in English. The subsequent rounds would be open to Indian languages as well.

This program provides journalists with both financial and editorial support throughout the grant-period cycles.

Each grantee will be given INR 30,000 to publish one story on a broad range of themes and issues of public interest, reported in depth over one month.

If required, NFI will provide editorial support to guide and help the grantee to report better.

NFI will aid the grantee in publishing the stories with different media organisations.

Application process

The window for applications will open every three months. NFI will announce the opening of the applications window on its website and on its social media handles.

Each round of fellowship will have detailed criteria on eligibility and the kind of stories we hope to support. Please read the criteria and the pitch guide for the specific round before you apply.

An NFI-appointed jury will select the grantees. Early submissions will be given additional weightage during the selection process. Fellowship grants will be announced within 15 days of the application window closing.

Applications are now open till December 15, 2020.

* Who can apply?

Journalists who meet the following two criteria:

1. Independent journalist not engaged on a full-time basis with any media organisation.

2. Journalists residing outside the six metropolitan cities of Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Kolkota, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru.

* What kind of stories can you pitch for the grant?

In the current round, we invite applications for stories to be published in print and digital formats in English.

The story is reported deeply, evidence-based and well-investigated. The story could be a news-break, an analysis or a feature. It could be specific to the region or geography you report. We want to support stories that do not stop at merely reporting an incident or an event but draw these out in the context of larger trends in governance, society and the political economy.

The story could be on one of these themes or on the intersection of these themes. This is an indicative list and not an exhaustive one.

1. How governments, businesses, people, communities and societies are responding to contemporary challenges in India.
2. The political economy of resources, resource-capture and corruption. Contests and conflicts over natural resources
3. Malgovernance. Or, good governance.
4. Livelihoods and rights of people.
5. Public health challenge in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic.
6. Functioning of essential services and social security schemes.
7. Workings of businesses and economy that impact society, rights and resources.
8. Social cooperation and innovation in the face of new challenges.
9. Civic and fundamental rights of citizens.
10. Evidence-based trends in how our societies are changing.
11. Stories that focus on lives of the most vulnerable.

* Time to report

You are expected to complete and submit the story within one month (30 days) from the receipt of the grant.

* Expected story length

1,000-2,000 words. Long-form.

* Before you send your pitch to us

1. Make sure you pitch us more than a raw idea.
2. Do some background work, preliminary reporting and research on story idea to draw it out better.
3. Make sure that the story has not been reported before. Or that it analyses and reports on a known episode, event or process in light of new facts and understanding.
4. Make sure you are confident of accessing evidence to back up and corroborate your assertions in the story.

* How to pitch for the fellowship
To apply in the current round, you should have the following ready:

1. Your story idea in less than 400 words. (Optional: you may add a note of less than 150 words to this on how your proposed story brings new information, or understanding on an issue of public interest.)
2. Your CV in a word or pdf format.
3. One unedited version of your best published work or an unpublished journalistic work of not less than 400 words in MS Word or PDF format.

To strengthen your pitch, please consider the following elements in your proposal:

1. The most recent development, event, incident or an emerging trend you want to report on.
2. Explain the context in which the development has happened or is happening (Editors find it easy to review the pitch when it is presented with the right context) .
3. Summarise why this development matters, which is to say, why should anyone who
consumes this news or analysis care about this development.
4. Give us a sense of what evidence, data or reporting you are already armed with and what else you would gather if you are granted the fellowship.

* If you have read the above, please click to fill the details of the application.

The NFI Media Fellowships Advisers are Dhanya Rajendran, Krishna Prasad, Kumar Sambhav, P Sainath,  Sanjay (Xonzoi) Barbora and Seema Chishti.

For more information, please visit:


Image Courtesy: National Foundation for India website


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