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Journalist Resource December 5, 2022

Dom Phillips Reporting Grant: "How to Save the Amazon?"


This special call is also available in Spanish and in Portuguese.

How to Save the Amazon was the title of the book that journalist Dom Phillips wanted to finish writing when he and Indigenous expert Bruno Pereira were assassinated on June 5, 2022, during a trip to the region. This special call, which we are launching six months after the crime, is an invitation to report as Phillips always wanted: on the ground, in conversation with the communities, seeking to show a wide audience possible ways to prevent the collapse of this crucial ecosystem and those who inhabit it.

This call comes amid a political shift in the region. After years of neglect and destruction, there is now hope for the Amazon. Presidential elections in Colombia and Brazil, and other political shifts in the region, have established governments for whom the Amazon is once again a priority, with concrete proposals, clear demands, and requests for support from the international community. But solutions will hardly come if the change is only in discourse. What can be done, concretely, for the future of the Amazon?

Call for proposals

The Pulitzer Center’s Rainforest Journalism Fund (RJF) is launching the Dom Phillips Reporting Grant to fund ambitious, wide-reaching journalism projects that investigate the future of the Amazon and how to prevent its collapse.

We will support proposals that are original, thoroughly researched, ambitious, especially in terms of dissemination, and that are guaranteed to reach large audiences. The projects submitted must have a distribution plan in print, digital, audio, video, radio, or television media with wide national or international circulation and reach. Collaborations between mass media and journalists or local media in Amazonian countries will be particularly welcome. Letters of commitment signed by editors or directors of the media, expressing a clear commitment to publish the final product, are essential.

We invite journalists, editors, independent media—local, national, and international—to propose projects focused on the search for solutions for the future of the Amazon. What problems afflict and what solutions are demanded by those who live in the territories of the Amazon? In a world plagued by various crises, what are the most realistic and promising ideas and solutions? How can the most relevant groups for this region of the world—on a community, local, national, and international level—take the actions that are needed? And how can these solutions come hand in hand with Amazonian communities?

This approach opens up a wide range of topics of general interest in these times of change for the region. Without being restrictive, the following can serve as guidelines for your proposal:

  • What leaderships are there in the Amazon with proposals that should be heard?
  • What solutions do the Amazonian peoples propose based on their world visions and ancestry?
  • What are the critical points for the Amazon? Where do we need to do what?
  • What should institutional recovery look like? How to reinstall protection agencies and policies. How to rebuild the social and community fabric. How to create something better than what was there before.
  • How to match population growth with non-exploitative employment opportunities.
  • How to awaken a genuine concern for the Amazon among the local and national population.
  • How to include in the solutions the population of the Amazonian cities, part of which is made up of an extractivist elite. What could be the role of the Amazonian cities?
  • How to deal with organized crime and illegal activities in Indigenous territories and conservation units. How to combat them without destroying ecosystems and the social fabric.
  • How to deal with agribusiness, a sector responsible for much of the devastation of the Amazon rainforest. Are there new ideas for this sector?
  • What are the most interesting and potentially successful ways to bring resources from the international community to protect the Amazon?
  • What have we learned from the weak results of the carbon credit market?
  • What are the opportunities for success for new governments in times when the global energy crisis demands extractive policies, detrimental to the ecosystem and its populations?
  • What are the lessons from successful and frustrated projects of the past? What projects could be taken to another level and turned into great transformative policies?

We usually receive a large number of proposals about the Brazilian Amazon. Therefore, we would like to encourage people interested in submitting projects to also propose stories about Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, or Venezuela. We also welcome work that offers cross-cutting views, for example, from border areas, or from possible collaboration between Amazon countries and other nations of the world. 

The proposals must meet the highest-quality standards without neglecting safety at any time. Unnecessary travel should be avoided and preventive health and protection measures should be implemented for journalists, and for local and Indigenous communities.

The deadline to apply for the Dom Phillips Reporting Grant is January 18, 2023. Applications must be submitted in Spanish, Portuguese, or English. Reporting may be done and published in any language. The Amazon Advisory Committee and the Pulitzer Center will select projects that meet the above content and distribution criteria, and will give priority to collaborative works that guarantee local, national, or international impact. This does not exclude projects proposed by a single person or media outlet.

Click here to access the application form. 

Eligible are proposals from journalists, writers, photographers, audio and radio producers, television and film producers. Staff journalists and freelance journalists of any nationality may also apply. We also welcome proposals from the press and from journalistic groups and collectives. In these cases, the team leader must be the one to send the application.

Applications should be submitted using the form found at the link below. The following information is required to complete the form:

  • A description of the project (maximum 400 words), including (1) a description of the topic and an explanation of why it is timely; (2) a description of the specific story to be told (narrative thread, characters, thesis); (3) a description of the methodology (where you will travel to, who you will talk to, how the final production or editing will be carried out); (4) an explanation of how the information collected will be handled, especially that which comes from local and Indigenous communities.
  • Deliverables and distribution plan (maximum 200 words): The specific strategy that will be used to disseminate the final result of the project should be described. Please include the following information: (1) the media in which it will be published (print, digital, audio, video, radio, television, film, etc.); (2) the format(s) in which it will appear (report, photo report, chronicle, interview, podcast, documentary, etc.); (3) the platforms and channels through which it will be distributed (websites, social networks, apps, newsletters, etc.). It is mandatory to submit at least one letter signed by an editor or director of a major national or international media outlet, expressing a concrete commitment to publish the final work and activate the distribution strategy described in the project. This part of the application will be decisive.
  • A security plan: A risk mitigation plan (health, physical, and psychological protection) should be included for both journalists and the local and Indigenous communities involved, as well as a statement of the ethical commitments of the reporting team.
  • An estimated budget: All project costs should be presented. Money can be used to cover travel and lodging, compensation for local journalists, equipment rental, data analysis, visualization and creation of content for digital channels. Media outlets that apply or those that commit to publishing should fairly compensate their journalists for their work. We will consider stipends for freelancers on a case-by-case basis. It will be mandatory to include travel health insurance costs for field reporters. Projects with an efficient and reasonable cost plan will be selected. Applications that do not justify the budget in detail will be discarded immediately.
  • The lead journalist must include contact information, resume, three work samples and three professional references in the application.
  • The rest of the team must appear in the application with name and surname, resume, and a description of each role.
  • Deadline for applications: January 18, 2023. Deadline for publication: June 30, 2023.

Grant amount and disbursements: Selected proposals will receive the necessary funds to carry out their project. The first half of the grant will be disbursed once the project has been selected. The second half will only be disbursed once the project has been published, in compliance with the distribution plan foreseen in the contract. The project must be published by June 30, 2023. If this deadline is not met, the second disbursement will not be made.

One week after submitting the proposal, applicants will receive an email confirming receipt of the proposal. Selected proposals will be announced in February 2023, after review by the Amazon Advisory Committee and the Pulitzer Center’s editorial team.

Submit your project here.

Watch a recording of the webinar:

RJF, 2022