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Sean Dorney Grant for Pacific Journalism

Why a grant for Pacific journalism?

This grant aims to provide:

  • an incentive for more and better reporting of Pacific issues by the Australian media in all formats
  • increased opportunities for Australian journalists who cover the Pacific to develop their practice further
  • support for Australian journalists and media outlets who want to embark on Pacific journalism for the first time
  • greater exposure and publicity for journalism that brings the stories of the Pacific island region to Australian audiences

Who is Sean Dorney?

Sean Dorney is an undisputed icon of Pacific reporting within the Australian media. In 2018 his illustrious 40-year career as a journalist in Papua New Guinea and throughout the Pacific islands region was recognised with the Walkley Award for Outstanding Contribution to Journalism. Sean’s passion for the region, and for the work of the Australian media in telling Pacific stories to Australian audiences, is legendary and unquenchable. Sean is living with Motor Neurone Disease and this grant is one way in which his impact and legacy can be carried forward by (and for) the industry he loves.

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 journalism not only supports Australian journalists, but Australian news organisations as well.  

How often will this grant be awarded?

The Sean Dorney Grant for Pacific Journalism will be given annually.

How are these grants funded?

The grants are allocated from the Walkley Public Fund for Journalism with support provided by a number of philanthropic organisations and individuals. Since establishing DGR status, the Walkley Foundation has been building the fund with money raised through donations, bequests and from philanthropic foundations. You can find out more about the Walkley Public Fund here.

Who can apply?

Journalists who are Australian citizens or permanent residents. You do not need to be based in Australia, but your work must be accessible to an Australian audience. Applicants can enter as individuals or groups of up to three members.

The judges want journalists from all sectors, backgrounds and experience levels to apply with pitches for reportage, features and news stories. The judges hope to see a broad range of applications from diverse and emerging voices as well as experienced and well-known journalists.

What do you mean by “Pacific islands region”?

For the purposes of this grant, the Pacific islands region comprises all states and territories that would ordinarily be considered to be in Melanesia, Micronesia or Polynesia. A project which focuses solely on New Zealand will not qualify; however a project which focuses on New Zealand in addition to somewhere else in the region will be considered.

Who judges the grant applications?

A judging committee of five 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 Pacific island countries. They want stories that are original, timely, newsworthy and will have impact. 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, and that applicants consider working with Pacific Island journalists or media organisations.

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 outline your planned story, explain how it meets the criteria, and upload three examples of your work along with a simple budget (we have provided a budget template for you to complete, which you can find here).

Your application will need to be verified by your editor/producer or, if you are a freelancer, by an editor/producer who is willing to publish/broadcast your work (download a letter template here – if the file doesn’t automatically download, disable your pop-up blockers or open in a different browser). Applications close at midnight AEST on Monday, April 26, 2021.

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 Pacific islands region (see above).

Why do I need to provide a budget?

Help the judges understand how you will use the $10,000 grant. You can make a simple dot-point list of costs, each with a dollar value, for research, travel, insurance, your time, etc.

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?

No, applicants can only apply once.

Can I enter with a partner/group?

Yes, groups of up to three people can apply.

When does it need to be published/broadcast?

Projects should be completed and published by June 30, 2022. 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 Kym Middleton,| +61 401 512 583

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