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First Grants Awarded to Journalists and Newsrooms from Internews Information Saves Lives Rapid Response Fund

April 9, 2020

Global non-profit Internews has awarded the first grants from its new Rapid Response Fund to help journalists and media outlets deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Thirteen emergency grants have been awarded in 11 countries. Additional grantees will be announced in the coming days.

“Local media is absolutely vital in times of crisis, and it urgently requires support so all of us can get the accurate and trustworthy information we need,” said Jodie Ginsberg, Internews Europe Chief Executive. “Our Rapid Response Fund received hundreds of applications in the first 48 hours alone, showing the scale of the challenges faced. The media is stepping up with ingenuity and courage, but faced with a massive loss of revenue, safety risks and radical changes to work practices, it needs immediate help.”

Grants ranging from $1000 to $4000 were awarded to:

Advance Youth Radio, South Sudan Advance Youth Radio uses media to champion youth empowerment and improve employment opportunities. They will use their funding to promote social distancing through interactive radio programming and to update the public with critical information about COVID-19 through public service announcements and live talk shows. They also plan to distribute 100 free solar powered radios to youth and vulnerable communities.

AyiboPost, Haiti Ayibopost is a non-profit Haitian online-based media specialized in field-reporting and creating explanatory content, reaching an audience of more than 500,000 across its platforms. The grant will be used in support of COVID-19 coverage, including in-depth reporting, and to help create a safe working environment for all eleven Ayibopost employees.

DONIBLOG, Mali DONIBLOG is a collective of Malian bloggers who write about democracy and freedom of expression. They distribute information via a website as well as Facebook and Twitter. DONIBLOG plans to use the funds to train bloggers on how to address COVID-19 issues, monitor misinformation on social media, and provide protection kits for the bloggers.

Faryad Radio & TV Network, Afghanistan An independent media organization in Afghanistan’s Herat province, Faryad Radio & TV focuses on issues of governance, democracy and gender equality. Herat has the highest incidence of COVID-19 cases in the country. Faryad TV will use their funds for an awareness-raising campaign on COVID-19 and to advocate for reducing its socioeconomic impact, an issue which the local governments so far has failed to address.

GK, Ecuador GK is a women-led team of young and innovative investigative journalists producing human rights-focused media. GK established a special page on their website for COVID-19 issues when the pandemic started and plans to use the grant to map gender-based violence in Ecuador during the crisis, a widespread and underreported issue.

Media Matters for Women, Sierra Leone Media Matters for Women is a women-led organization that delivers information about reproductive rights, health and gender-based-violence to women in girls in rural areas. They plan to use funds to get information about COVID-19 to rural areas safely through town criers, Bluetooth transfers, and WhatsApp groups.

NGO Center for Analytics and Investigations, Ukraine The NGO Center supports fact checking via workshops and resource production. Recently, they have organized a group of volunteer journalists who are addressing misinformation around COVID-19 and will use the funds to produce and promote videos about the issues, conduct webinars on fact-checking, and translate international information about COVID-19 for local audiences.

Pax Press, Rwanda Pax Press is a network of 174 journalists working with 35 media outlets in Rwanda with the mission of enhancing social justice, peaceful cohabitation, citizen participation, conflict-sensitive media, and a space for dialogue. Pax Press will use funds to train journalists on covering COVID-19, combatting misinformation, personal safety, and efforts to strengthen freedom of information and transparency.

RADA, Kenya RADA is an Android-based mobile application on health. Since the coronavirus outbreak, RADA has sent updates from the government of Kenya and World Health Organization to students and young people on the RADA platform, as well as affiliated WhatsApp and social media accounts, reaching more than 20,000 students. Grant funds will support additional social media campaigns specifically targeted at young people.

Petro Shuklinov, Ukraine Petro Shuklinov is a Ukrainian journalist who writes about Russian propaganda and its impact. He is currently targeting Russian speakers in Ukraine with information over social media on COVID-19, including fact-checking and anti-propaganda. He will use funds to purchase technical equipment that will allow him to safely conduct distance reporting.

Salud Con Lupa, Peru Salud con Lupa (“Health with a Magnifying Glass”) is a collaborative digital journalism website specializing in public health reporting. Based in Lima, Peru, their reporting teams are international and reach a wider Latin American audience. Their grant will develop a Visual Explainers series, an initiative to transform articles, explainers and fact-checks about COVID-19 into illustrated stories and infographics.

Spice FM, Uganda Spice FM broadcasts in several local languages to a target audience of youth and women in Uganda, including two refugee settlements. They broadcast a weekly health program called Spice Doctor that they are now dedicating to COVID-19 related issues and they include COVID-19 information in a daily news program. With additional funding, they will provide safer conditions for their community correspondents in the refugee settlements, including remote recording equipment, loudspeakers, and transport.

ZMA Radio, Afghanistan ZMA Radio is an independent station that has a crew of women journalists who report on Islamic, political and educational issues as well as sports, health and culture. The station covers Kandahar city and the nearby provinces of Helmand, Zabul and Urozgan. ZMA will use its funds to produce live call-in programs featuring guests from the health field, government officials and religious leaders to discuss guidance around COVID-19.

Internews launched its Information Saves Lives Rapid Response Fund at the end of March to help small, local news organizations worldwide survive in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Journalists and media outlets are struggling with providing timely accurate information to their communities while staying safe and operational themselves.

The response to the call for applications was overwhelming. Applications came from 56 countries and included TV and radio stations, NGOs, news websites, individual journalists, fact-checking outlets, magazines, journalism trainers, and digital app creators.

The applicants requested support for content generation, staff salaries, equipment, fact checking, training, translation, transport and protection.

The fund was seeded with an initial investment of $100,000 from Internews, with the intention to raise $1 million in overall support. Additional grantees from the first round of applicants will be determined as soon as possible. As additional funds are raised, Internews anticipates opening a second round of applications.

Update: New grants awarded in Information Saves Lives Rapid Response Fund.

Media inquiries: press@internews.org

Grant inquiries: Please note that the fund is not currently accepting additional applications at this time. When funding makes additional grants available, Internews will announce a new deadline for applications.

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