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Judith Neilson Institute Freelance Grant for Asian Journalism: FAQs

Why a grant for reporting on Asia?

Asia is now the most important region in the world. It’s home to half the world’s population and its economy is bigger than the rest of the world combined. Few countries are as closely bound to the region’s future as Australia, yet coverage of Asia does not always keep pace with Asia’s importance. The goal of these grants is to support freelance journalists doing high-quality journalism that tells the region’s most important stories in intelligent and compelling ways. 

Why is the Walkley Foundation giving out grants for reporting?

The Walkley Foundation benchmarks the best in Australian journalism and also supports the industry through training, mentoring, scholarships, fellowships and a public program that encourages all Australians to value quality journalism. Providing grants to fund the production of original public interest journalism not only supports Australian journalists, but Australian news organisations as well.  

Who can apply?

Freelance journalists who are Australian citizens or permanent residents. Applicants can enter as individuals or groups of up to three members (all freelance journalists).

What do you mean by “Asia”?

For the purposes of this grant, “Asia” includes South Asia, East Asia and South East Asia. South East Asia includes Timor Leste but not Papua New Guinea. 

Who judges the grant applications?

A judging panel of senior journalists from a range of media backgrounds. All the judges will be announced when the grant winner is announced.

What are the judges looking for?

The judges are looking for original journalism with a focus on an under-reported issue or development that relates to one or more Asian countries. They want stories that are original, timely, newsworthy and will have impact. They are looking for applications that have a clear plan for how to tell the story, a clear understanding of the costs, and a commitment from a publisher or broadcaster to get the story to an Australian audience. The judges also want to see proof that the applicant is able to produce high quality journalism and has excellent skills in written/verbal communication and/or technical/production skills. It is desirable although not mandatory that the stories pitched be innovative or creative in their storytelling style.

How do I apply?

Apply using the online application form. It is free to apply. As well as your contact details, you will be asked to describe your story idea in detail, demonstrating that you have a plan for sources and research, and contingency plans. You’ll be asked to upload a one page CV, and a letter of commitment from a co-publisher who is interested in working with you on the story (download a template here – if the file doesn’t automatically download, disable your pop-up blockers or open in a different browser). You’ll also need to complete a budget for the project using our template (find it here). Your application will need to be verified by an editor/producer who is willing to publish/broadcast your work. Applications close at midnight AEST on Friday May 29, 2020.

What kind of work can I pitch?

You can pitch a story or project on any topic, for any medium (or multimedia), so long as it relates to the Asian region (see above).

How long a story should I pitch?

It’s up to you and your publisher. Be realistic about what your story needs and what you are capable of, and budget accordingly. It may be a single piece, a series of articles, a podcast series or a multimedia project. Just have a clearly defined outcome you are confident you can deliver. 

Why do I need to provide a budget?

Seeing an outline of the costs you anticipate helps the judges decide how much funding to allocate, and also gives them insight into how you plan to approach your reporting. We have provided a simple template for you to complete, which you can find here. You should include any additional funding and budget to be paid for your time. 

What should I include in my budget?

The grants are intended to cover reporting costs directly related to the project, which may include reporters’ time, travel, research, insurance and support.

How much can I apply for?

The total pool of funding available is $25,000 so you can’t apply for a project bigger than that. The judging committee will allocate grants according to merit and the budgets submitted, to fund reporting costs directly related to the project. Don’t be afraid to think big, but be realistic about the costs.

Do I have to show my own contribution?

You don’t have to, but you may like to.

Can I seek additional funding from other sources?

Yes. Please mention any additional funding when you outline your budget in your application.

Can I apply more than once in a year?

No, applicants can only apply once.

Can I enter with a partner/group?

Yes, groups of up to three people (all freelance journalists) can apply.

When does it need to be published/broadcast?

Projects should be completed and published by June 30, 2021. Projects that may take longer will be approached on a case by case basis.

When will I know if my application has been successful?

Successful projects will be announced on a date to be confirmed. All applicants will be contacted.

How can I support the grants/fund?

You may like to consider making a donation of any size to the Walkley Public Fund. You can find out more about the fund and donate here, or contact Barbara Blackman to discuss your donation.

Can I talk to someone about this?

For further questions on the grants program, please contact

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