The Shipping News: grants for journalists working on asylum seeker stories

(This information has been provided by Eliza Sarlos at GetUp – please note that applications are due by June 30.)

The Shipping News is a crowdfunded project to provide grants to journalists working on asylum seeker stories.

You might tell your story in newspapers, magazines, on television or radio, online, through social media, mobile apps or any other platform – the most important thing is that your work will be engaging, visible and have a significant impact on the way we talk about asylum seekers in this country.

We don’t want to duplicate the current conversation, we want to improve it. Specifically, we want people who support the current policy to think about the issue in different ways, and we want the kind of journalism that gives disengaged audiences the information and impetus to take a look.

GetUp is coordinating the project on behalf of thousands of members who donated to fund the kind of journalism that brings more people into this polarised debate and helps create a more constructive public conversation.

This project could not have proceeded without countless conversations with journalists at many media outlets across Australia, from junior reporters and bloggers to established freelancers and senior leaders of the industry.

We are now seeking grant submissions from journalists/teams for support to tell stories that will help drive a more constructive discussion around asylum seekers.

Who will we fund

Applicants can be journalists at any stage in their career that have the capacity to bring something new to the conversation on asylum seekers. Successful applicants should show how their pitch will shift the way we speak about this issue, and how their story will provide a new perspective.

When we talk about journalists we mean anyone with the capacity to tell a factual story. This may be through print, photos, Twitter, data visualisation, comics, comedy, or any other form that meets our objectives.

How applications will be assessed

The grants will be decided by an independent panel of expert journalists:

  • Wendy Harmer (Editor/Founder, The Hoopla)
  • Eric Beecher (CEO, Private Media)
  • Barat Ali Batoor (Freelance photojournalist)
  • Monica Attard OAM (former ABC journalist and now freelancing for The Hoopla and CNN, author)
  • John Birmingham (Author and freelance journalist).

Applications will be decided based on how effectively the pitch demonstrates evidence of editorial integrity and quality and if it adds something new to the conversation. We will also consider the audience your pitch is intended for, the size of that audience, and the likelihood your pitch has of getting published. Supporting notes from editors, EPs and media outlets will strengthen an application, but support is not required for a successful application.

At no stage will GetUp have any editorial control over your pitch, your story, or the way in which it gets published.

What will we fund

This program seeks to make it easier for journalists to report on stories around asylum seekers that we’re not currently hearing. Your pitch should outline the capacity it has to add something new to the current discussion around this issue. We want stories that are catalysts for conversation, for shifting the tone, and changing how we think about this issue in Australia.

Some recent examples of what we might consider include:

The Impossible Refugee Boat Lift to Christmas Island

● Gordon Thomson live tweeting boat arrivals on Christmas Island

9 Unbelievable photos of a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan:

● The use of a graphic novel to tell the story of a Serco guard:

Funding can be used for the expenses of a project, including but not limited to:

● Project related travel (flights, accommodation, visa)

● Research and information procurement (including Freedom of Information requests)
● Technical costs for equipment for crew
● Crowdsourcing data
● Building local reporting capacity
● Your time
● Other direct costs

We don’t fund salaries for permanent staff, overheads and any other indirect costs, bribes or otherwise illegal and undocumented expenses, activities that breach an individual’s right to privacy or lobbying activities.

While we’re not looking to fund projects that are primarily news gathering by nature, if your pitch is innovative and engages new audiences we wouldn’t rule it out.

How to apply

We are now seeking grant submissions from journalists/teams for support to tell stories that will help drive a more constructive discussion around asylum seekers.

Applications must be submitted no later than June 30, 2014.

You can preview the full application form here and/ or you may request a paper copy of the form by contacting Eliza Sarlos (

This Wordle includes the text above.