New Fellowship Offers Intensive Data Journalism Training to Mekong River Reporters

The lower Mekong River Basin is facing a multitude of challenges, from climate change to rapid development to the construction of hydropower dams that have changed the river’s flow over the past decade.

These challenges do not just affect the river’s ecosystem and surrounding environment. They also threaten the water security of the nearly 250 million population living along the Mekong in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

To report effectively on the threats and potential solutions facing the Mekong River and the communities it supports, more and more journalists are looking at data to drive investigations and tell stories that resonate with and engage their audiences. But doing so requires an understanding of where to find relevant and credible data and how to interpret it to monitor and track changes over time.

That’s why Internews’ Earth Journalism Network (EJN) recently launched the Mekong Data Journalism Fellowship through a partnership with the East-West Center and the Stimson Center.

Over the course of eight months, we plan to award Fellowships to 30 journalists from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. We’re currently seeking applications for our first round, which targets English-speaking journalists only and closes March 7. The second round, which we’ll announce in the coming months, will be open to more journalists in the region within the addition of one or two Mekong languages.

The selected Fellows will participate in an intensive 80-hour data journalism training and receive one-on-one mentorship support to produce data-driven stories for their media outlets. They’ll also join a series of virtual seminars with regional and global experts in river management and related themes and will be provided with support to create graphics and data visualizations for their stories.

Our partners at the Stimson Center will introduce the Fellows to two open data portals they’ve created – the Mekong Infrastructure Tracker and Mekong Dams Monitor, both of which monitor large-scale development and hydropower plants in the Mekong River Basin – so that Fellows can use datasets from these portals for their stories.

Eva Constantaras, a data journalism advisor for Internews, Fulbright Scholar and former Google Journalism Fellow, will lead the data journalism training. She will be assisted by Thibi and Open Development Cambodia, two organizations with deep experience in data analysis and visualization based in Myanmar and Cambodia, respectively.

In recent years, EJN has worked with various partners to enhance data journalism capacity for reporters in many regions, including the Amazon, Indonesia, the Himalayas, southern Africa, the Nile Basin and Europe.

The Mekong Data Journalism Fellowship is part of this effort to support journalists in addressing environmental challenges and offering solutions for the sustainability of the lower Mekong River Basin.

Read more about the Fellowship and follow us on Facebook and Twitter to find out about the next round of opportunities.

(Banner image by Hannah Wright on Unsplash)