On April 7, Facebook announced 400 grants to US and Canadian local news organizations in support of COVID-19 journalism coverage. I was one of those chosen – applying as a freelancer with an established relationship with NUVO – to receive the grant. The Indianapolis Recorder newspaper and Indiana Public Media were also winners.
This $5,000 grant will support my “Coronavirus Diary” series for NUVO, the Indianapolis-based alternative-weekly-turned-nonprofit-news-site.
The Facebook Journalism Project coronavirus grant program is run by Facebook and its partners, the Lenfest Institute for Journalism and the Local Media Association. Newsrooms and freelancers like myself – with established relationships with local media – were encouraged to apply.
The first round of 50 grant recipients was announced in March.
According to the website, “The Facebook Journalism Project doubled the total grant pool to $2 million after more than 200 publishers applied in the first 48 hours after the application launched. The expansion made it possible to help an even greater number of newsrooms navigate the economic impact of the outbreak.The grants will help fulfill needs such as remote work, increasing frequency of publishing, combating misinformation and serving vulnerable and at-risk groups.”
Another program being launched is the FJP COVID-19 Local News Relief Fund Grant Program, which offers grant opportunities to assist local newsrooms in the U.S. so they can continue working during the coronavirus outbreak. Publishers can begin applying for relief grants on Monday, April 13, 2020.
In my coverage so far, I’ve reported on the closing down of the IUPUI campus in the wake of COVID-19 becoming a pandemic. I was on campus, at a meeting of the IUPUI Arts & Humanities Institute – where I’m a research assistant – when I heard the news that classes were to go online after spring break and campus would open again, if possible, on April 6. It very soon became clear that this would not be possible. Classes for the rest of the semester at IUPUI, and most campuses across the country for that matter, will be online for the rest of the semester. It’s unclear, at this point, whether in-person classes will resume in the fall.
After writing about IUPUI shutting down, I turned my attention to the medical response ramping up in Indianapolis and interviewed Dr. Tuan Tran, an epidemiologist based at the IU School of Medicine for an article published on March 18. I also published several articles combatting misinformation with the help of correspondence with my cousin, Boston-based Dan Grossman, who is an independent environmental journalist. (Yes, that's weird, I know.)
I will use this money to support my independent journalism; I’m particularly interested in investigating how the virus is affecting poorer communities, and communities of color. I’m open to your ideas about coronavirus coverage, particularly if you work in an emergency room, or on the streets as a first responder. Don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your tips and ideas.