Pulitzer Center Update September 12, 2018

Pulitzer Center Launches 5-Year, $5.5 Million Rainforest Journalism Fund

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Image courtesy of jbdodane.
Image courtesy of jbdodane.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, September 12, 2018—The Pulitzer Center is pleased to announce the launch of the Rainforest Journalism Fund, a five-year, $5.5 million initiative focused on raising public awareness of the urgent environmental issues facing the world's tropical forests.

Supported by a grant from the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment through the Norwegian International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI), the Rainforest Journalism Fund represents a major investment in international environmental and climate reporting, with plans to support nearly 200 original reporting projects along with annual regional conferences designed to raise the level of reporting on global rainforest issues such as deforestation and climate change. During the course of the grant, the Fund will also provide hostile-environment and first-aid training to 75 journalists operating in rainforest regions.

The idea gained momentum when a group of reporters in South America proposed an Amazon Journalism Fund to widen coverage of this important topic. Tropical forests are among the major battlegrounds of climate change—and also one of the most promising ways of mitigating, and reversing, adverse environmental and public-health consequences. News-media outlets increasingly lack the resources to support the kind of sustained reporting that is required to bring these issues to light; journalists reporting on these issues often face heightened security risks. This kind of reporting is an essential public good that requires outside support to successfully reach audiences at both local and international levels, support that the Rainforest Journalism Fund will provide. 

NICFI, the Pulitzer Center and the journalists involved are committed to the editorial independence of the Fund's grantees. One of the Pulitzer Center's key roles in administering the Fund is to ensure that the Fund's grantees are free to conduct their reporting within the highest standards of journalism.

"Forest loss is often driven by hidden, illegal activities and executed with impunity," said Ola Elvestuen, Norway's Minister of Climate and Environment. "Global supply chains often provide the cash flows behind these activities. To counter the detrimental ongoing deforestation we need more transparency and we need quality journalism.

"I am thankful that Pulitzer Center, a renowned institution with a long track record of supporting state-of-the-art journalism on under-covered issues, will have full editorial control over funds and allocations, supported by advisory committees consisting of distinguished journalists," Elvestuen said. 

"Sunshine is the best disinfectant," said Per Fredrik Ilsaas Pharo, director of NICFI. "There is no stronger sunshine than professional journalism."

"No issue is as important to our future as climate change. Understanding the role of rainforests is absolutely key to solving the challenges we face," said Jon Sawyer, executive director of the Pulitzer Center. "We are grateful for this opportunity to work with some of the world's leading environmental journalists." 

As part of the Fund's strong support for local reporters with regional expertise, the Pulitzer Center will work with journalism advisory committees and coordinators with expertise on each of the world's major rainforest regions—in the Amazon, central Africa and southeast Asia. 

In reporting from the Amazon region the Pulitzer Center will work closely with the Amazon Advisory Committee, which will play a key role in deciding on the allocation of grants. The members are as follows:

  • Jonathan Watts, chair (global environment editor, The Guardian)
  • Eliane Brum (Altamira, Brazil / journalist, filmmaker and El País columnist)
  • Daniela Chiaretti, environment correspondent, Valor Economico (São Paulo)
  • Thomas Fischermann (Die ZEIT, South America)
  • Adriana León (Perú-based correspondent, Los Angeles Times; IPYS director for press freedom)
  • Fabiano Maisonnave (Amazon correspondent / Folha de S.Paulo)
  • Simon Romero (national correspondent, The New York Times)

"The Rainforest Journalism Fund is the initiative of reporters in South America who want wider support for local and international media coverage of the Amazon," Watts said. "We know from experience that reporting in this region is difficult and expensive, but crucially important if humanity is to understand and respond to the existential threats of deforestation, biodiversity loss and climate change.

"Our seven-member advisory committee—which is independent and predominantly comprised of journalists in Amazon nations—is grateful to the Norwegian government for providing substantial financial resources and to the Pulitzer Center for adding media expertise, education and administration. We hope and expect that more grants and training will mean stronger stories and better governance." 

Over the next few months the Pulitzer Center will be recruiting similar advisory committees, and regional coordinators, for Africa and Asia.

About the Pulitzer Center

The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting is an innovative award-winning non-profit journalism organization dedicated to supporting in-depth engagement with under-reported global issues. We sponsor quality international reporting across all media platforms and a unique program of outreach and education to schools and universities. Visit the Pulitzer Center online at pulitzercenter.org.

About the Norwegian International Climate and and Forest Initiative 

The Norwegian government supports global efforts to reduce destruction of tropical forests. It aims to halt greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries. Norway's International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI) leads these efforts from the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment. Norad manages significant parts of the funds under the climate and forest initiative on behalf of the ministry. Norway has so far supported efforts to reduce deforestation in more than 70 countries.

Update: See the Call for Proposals for international projects and local Amazon projects.

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For more information about the Rainforest Journalism Fund, please contact us at [email protected]. Media outlets interested in covering the Rainforest Journalism Fund should contact Jeff Barrus at [email protected].