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How to find and use a science journalism story grant

Speed read

  • A science journalist story grant can be a great way of securing money to report science news that benefits society.
  • When used properly, a science journalism story grant can advance your career. 

Story grant donors usually make announcements when funding becomes available. The trick is to make sure you don’t miss those announcements. So, you need to find ways to ensure you know about calls for funding. Here are three ways to position yourself to ensure you don’t miss grant opportunity.

3 ways of finding a science journalism story grant

Firstly, join professional associations. This includes the World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ). Members get regular updates from WFSJ, including tips, professional development opportunities and story grants. Find and join a science-related journalism association in your country. Focus especially on one that’s a member of WFSJ.

Secondly, look for grant-giving organizations and sign up to their mailing lists. And follow them on social media! This includes accounts such as the African Academy of Sciences and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Thirdly, use online resources. There’s a wealth of information online. So, be sure to use resources such as The International Journalists’ Network opportunities page. They’ll help you discover grant opportunities.

These sources of information change from time to time. So, remember to check the latest information on reporting grants. Pay attention to relevant newsletters.

What makes a good grant proposal?

The competition for grants is fierce. For a donor to fund you, you must write a strong application. Below, are the qualities of a solid story grant application.

Winning a science journalism story grant: Be clear and concise

Your proposal must be unambiguous, precise, and simple to comprehend. Your ideas shouldn’t be difficult for the donors to understand. Instead of a theme, present a story idea. Or show in plain terms how your news is likely to aid attempts to address a particular issue. Could your story result in a much-needed policy modification? Could it persuade farmers to switch to a more effective technique? Will it highlight a situation that needs a solution?

Show potential for success. Grant administrators want you to persuade them that the story is doable. They want to know you’re the right person to draft it. It’s important to cite other stories that you’ve published.

Winning a science journalism story grant: Get organised

Have a well-organized plan in place. A good plan will help the grant administrators understand what you aim to do. Show them the detail they need. Explain the location and timeframes that you’ll be working in. Show that your proposal meets their requirements.

Be ahead of schedule. There are deadlines for all grant applications. Make sure you submit your application by the deadline. Early applications are rewarded by some grant administrators. If applications receive the same marks, administrators might choose early over late applicants.

Deliver a realistic budget. Ensure that your budget estimates are within the standard pricing limits. Juries need to have a snapshot of the costs you’re likely to incur. It can be difficult to list all the unforeseen costs. But don’t make budget proposals that are excessive.

Winning a science journalism story grant: Read the proposal carefully

Read the terms and conditions of the grant in detail. Take note of who qualifies for the grant. Notice in which countries the grant can be used. Be aware of the kinds of stories that the grant can be used for. And really understand the details of the application procedure.

Before you submit an application, proofread it. Or ask someone else to proofread it. Proposals that are full of grammatical errors can put off the jury. It means they might struggle to understand your pitch.

Finally, ask for advice. You should speak with the grant administrators directly if you need any clarification. Some businesses also have an FAQs (frequently asked questions) section. This could provide answers to your questions.

How to use a science journalism story grant

When submitting an application for a science journalism story, journalists can face many obstacles. It can be challenging to determine whether you’re using the grant objectively. But doing this is crucial. One of the fundamental rules of journalism ethics is independence. The donor might ask you to use the grant money to further an organization’s own interests. And this might be at the expense of societal ones. However, this would go against standard journalism ethics.

Therefore, it’s wise to mention that a grant helped to finance your story. Mention the awarding body’s name. It’s important to be transparent, especially when there could be conflicts of interest. This is especially important if it could affect your coverage.

When used properly, a science journalism story grant can advance your career. And it can improve your ability to support yourself as a science journalist.

To learn more about science communication, read Science Communication Skills for Journalists by Dr Charles Wendo. And take our free online course, Script.