What are the application criteria?

Please read our application criteria carefully before you apply for our grant programme.

Goal of IDR

The Innovation in Development Reporting Grant Programme (IDR) is a media funding project operated by the European Journalism Centre. The grant programme aims to advance innovative reporting approaches, thus enabling a better coverage of international development issues.

The average grant given is around €20,000 and the programme is open to both freelancers and newsrooms.


The past and now closed round of applications was on the following topic:

According to the UN, more than 790 million people worldwide still lack regular access to adequate food and nutrition. Ending hunger and malnutrition relies heavily on sustainable food production systems and resilient agricultural practices. 
For this IDR round we’re looking for original reporting on issues related to:

  • food production and food security
  • health and nutrition
  • food trade and markets 

as outlined in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 2) which is to “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.”

We are therefore looking to fund journalistic projects on food and development that bring to life stories that focus on the underlying issues of sustainability, resilience and innovation

Country Focus

To be eligible, your story must:

  • Focus on one or more of the world’s developing countries, excluding the countries from the former Yugoslav Republic, former Soviet Union countries, China and countries covered by a US financial embargo (Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria).
  • Report on one or more of the developing countries - ideally Least Developed Countries (LDCs) - and/or the key European donor countries’ development relations with these countries.

Who is eligible?

Both freelance journalists and employed newsroom staff may apply. There is no citizenship, nationality or residence/location restriction on the applicants as long as the final results are published in relevant media organisations* with significant reach to audiences in one or more of the following European countries: 

  • France
  • Germany
  • the Netherlands
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom

The funded stories can be published in any of the official languages of the five admissible countries. 

Only media outlets from the eligible countries can be considered as primary outlets. Secondary outlets may cater to any other European country, while publications outside Europe are most welcome for supplemental dissemination. 

Freelance journalists are expected to pitch their stories to the media organisations themselves, and are encouraged to charge freelance fees where appropriate. The Journalism Grants community is a great place to get advice on which partners to target. We also encourage partnerships with media organisations who have not previously published IDR projects. 

Newsrooms and their employed journalists are particularly encouraged to apply, however applications from state-owned or directly government-controlled entities are not eligible. The Guardian and Le Monde Afrique are also not eligible as primary publication partners, as they already receive direct support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Ineligible media outlets cannot be considered as primary publication partners, but can be included as part of an application as secondary publication partners alongside other eligible outlets.

Successful applications show deep engagement and collaboration with local reporters on the ground.

* A relevant media organisation is considered to be one of the following: a broadcaster with at least broad regional reach; a mainstream print magazine or newspaper; a print trade publication or specialist magazine of particular influence as a multiplier; a website of significant reach and audience; an electronic format such as a mobile application; or a contribution to an existing app – with demonstrable potential to reach a large audience.

Selection criteria

Our grants judge applications based on three criteria 

  1. Editorial focus and quality
  2. Impact and reach
  3. Innovation

1. Editorial focus and quality

Your story pitch is the most important part of the application. Successful applications are:

  • Relevant. The judges look for a strong link to the topic for the round.
  • Original. We value under-reported topics or fresh perspectives on well-known issues.
  • Focused. Successful applications go beyond the surface of a story, using data and/or evidence reporting to back-up their story. Stories should look at context, underlying issues and the big picture.
  • Balanced. Every story has multiple perspectives and should reflect the reality, not the stereotype. 

2. Impact and reach

IDR judges are looking for stories that demonstrate how they will create impact and reach. 
Impactful stories inform public opinion and debate and change the way people understand an issue. They provide citizens with the information to make decisions and form opinions about their lives, communities, societies, and world.
Your stories should achieve significant reach with large audiences in one or more of the five eligible countries. Successful applications demonstrate how this will be achieved through partnerships with media organisations and social media strategies. While multinational distribution strategies are looked upon favourably, single-country reach applications can be successful if they demonstrate exceptional audience targeting strategies. 

If your story contains multiple parts, or is published by several media outlets, it must be part of a unified package with a defined publication timeline.

3. Innovation

Innovation is a requirement of this grant because we believe new storytelling ideas increase the chance of impact and reach. We think of innovation in four ways. 

    1. Engagement. Successful projects will show new ways of engaging audiences using digital technologies. Creative uses of video, audio, imagery, data, text, maps, graphics, quizzes, animation or other engaging content forms, in service of a great story, are essential.
    2. Format. Your chosen format must work for your proposed audience. Projects that leverage new social, browser and mobile platforms/technologies to deliver compelling stories are encouraged.Your project can result of a series of stories or one single long-form story.
    3. Community. Successful applications show how they will turn an audience into an engaged community that grows during the lifespan of the story.
    4. Sourcing. Our judges are interested in the new ways your project will source data, evidence and video/images where appropriate to drive your story. 

The best applications will utilise all of the above to better serve the story and the targeted audience. It is important to remember that the reach of the story can be negatively impacted by overly complicated or inaccessible technologies that prevent distribution and media partnerships. 

What we fund

The average grant given is about €20,000 and applicants are encouraged to apply for a minimum grant of €10,000. Each round awards 10 - 20 grants.  

Freelancers and newsrooms may apply for full funding for a project, or partial story funding to top-up existing reporting budgets. Grants cannot cover costs for the salaries of journalists who are already employed. 

Freelance journalist fees should be at market rate and be a reasonable percentage of the overall budget. All travel and project costs must be included; our experienced jury will reject proposals with unrealistic budgets, so research this thoroughly. 

Awarded grants can cover: 

  • Freelance fees
  • Direct expenses for research and study trips, including travel and accommodation
  • Technical costs to hire equipment or crew
  • Access to professional databases or original data gathering efforts
  • Graphics, design and visualisation
  • Renting of equipment for production and post-production work
  • Translations into other languages with the aim of wider reach
  • Development or adaptation of software specifically directly for the implementation of the project 

The grant programme does not cover: 

  • Salaries of journalists who are already employed
  • Costs that took place prior to the grant or previously published work 
  • Indirect costs (overheads)
  • Purchases of equipment, machines, real-estate, general-purpose software licenses
  • Bribes or otherwise unethical, illegal and undocumented expenses 
  • Activities violating the privacy of individuals
  • Political campaigns or lobbying activities 

We also encourage freelancers to claim fees from the media outlets publishing their projects and may keep all such revenue. Grants include all and any taxes for which the grantees may be liable, and grantees are responsible for their own tax declarations.  

At the end of the project, grantees will need to account for all expenses, by providing a financial report and copies of receipts and invoices of all project-related costs. 

Application process

We use a two-stage application process in our IDR grant programme. 

At the first stage, all freelance and newsroom applicants are welcome to submit an application at: http://journalismgrants.org/apply

Only full applications submitted via our website will be considered in the selection process.  

Submitting an application is free or charge. We will review your applications within four weeks time. 
At the second stage, shortlisted applicants will be invited to submit a full application package. This will contain: 

  • a more detailed application
  • a detailed budget
  • "Letters of commitment" from eligible media partners 

The shortlisted applicants will have four weeks to prepare and submit a full application package. All shortlisted applications will be then reviewed by an international jury consisting of senior journalists and renowned media professionals.  

To create an application form the applicants will be requested to register on our website. The application can be saved and edited  at any time until the deadline and even after being submitting.

Copyright and distribution

Once the original story has been published, all projects funded through this grant project will be further distributed via this website.  

The projects are allowed to add advertisements and yet must be published under a universal open access policy. Therefore they cannot be published behind paywalls and have to be freely accessible to a national or a global online audience. Publication under a Creative Commons License is encouraged, in order to allow for global and free access. All original data generated or collected must be made reusable for other stories and investigations.