Press Start is designed to help relieve the financial burden on journalists in repressive countries, defined as those deemed “not free” or “partly free” in the current edition of Freedom House’s Freedom of the Press survey. For a list, click here.
To apply for a campaign, you should have at least three years of experience in your country’s domestic media, working on subjects of social importance, which could include but are not limited to politics, human rights, social issues (including gender, minority, and sexual orientation), health, and the environment. We accept applications for traditional print stories and series as well as photo essays, multimedia projects, and reported, influential blogs. We particularly welcome journalists with investigative experience who are seeking funds for a new investigation.
We prefer that applications be in English but can accept Russian and French. All must include the following:
- a CV
- links to three samples of your work
- an essay of introduction no more than 1 ½ single-spaced pages (for examples, see the journalists’ profiles on our website). Tell us why you became a journalist and what challenges you face practicing independent journalism in your country, and mention some of your notable work.
- a detailed proposal of one-half to one single-spaced page for a story or series. We do not want open-ended questions that you would like to answer in your reporting (which could result in no story). A good proposal would presumably contain an angle on a topic you have already reported on (and therefore have some reason to believe would bear fruit) but have not had the resources to explore. Please tell us the types of sources you would consult and how your project would be new or original.
- a budget proposal broken down by major expense categories, such as travel costs, interpreters, and equipment. Requests should be in line with our other campaigns (see the “Our Journalists” section of our homepage for a rough idea), and should be no more than $2,000. We will expect to see receipts at the conclusion of your reporting
- two letters of recommendation from people you have worked with
- a letter from a commissioning editor at the outlet where you intend to place your work stating his or her interest in publishing/posting/showing the piece(s). If you are a staff journalist, this will likely be from your employer (but does not have to be). If the same editor is also writing one of your letters of recommendation, the expression of interest can be included in the recommendation letter.
To maintain the quality of work produced by Press Start journalists (and therefore keep the confidence of our donors) we urge that our journalists’ projects be subject to a traditional editing process. That means we discourage placement in self-edited outlets, including blogs. We understand, however, that in some countries, little to no independent media exist for placement of investigations, making blogs the only option. In such cases, we require:
- information on the unique number of visitors to the site per month
- an outline of the project, including the profile of people to be interviewed and data sought, before work begins
- a first draft of the finished project for review before posting
Freelancers or salaried journalists are free to apply. Whatever your status, it is crucial that either your introductory essay or your CV identify which media you are currently working for and that you provide enough information about it to help us assess its independence.