Free content, tools and funding to help your newsroom cover the coronavirus

As newsrooms work flat-out to cover the biggest story of our time, API is highlighting some of the free tools and grant funding that are being developed to supplement newsrooms’ existing resources around coronavirus coverage.

We recognize that newsrooms have very little time to explore these opportunities. For that reason, we are focusing on:

  • tools that you can easily embed in your existing workflow and platforms
  • coronavirus content that your newsroom can republish for free
  • at-a-glance summaries of new grants so that you can see whether you’re eligible, the deadline to apply, and what’s involved in the application process.

We will keep this list updated with new tools and grants as they are announced over the following days and weeks. Sign up here to be updated as new opportunities come available. If you would like something to be added to this list, please email stephanie.castellano@pressinstitute.org.

Free tools

SciLine’s Expert-Matching Service

What: SciLine’s free expert-matching service connects reporters with credible scientist-sources.

Who: SciLine notes that it is experiencing a high-volume of matching requests due to the pandemic, so it is prioritizing local newsrooms whose audience is mostly U.S.-based.

How: Fill out the short form requesting to be connected with a scientist. SciLine will strive to connect journalists with experts ahead of their deadlines — the more lead time you provide, the likelier they are to get you what you need.

 

‘I need help’ / ‘I can help’ news widget

What/who: The Dallas Morning News has partnered with Vomo, a Dallas-based social impact platform, to embed a widget into every coronavirus article that lets readers submit their needs related to coronavirus or their offers to help. Now Vomo is making this feature available for free to any U.S. news outlet wants to do the same.

How: Newsrooms can get their own configurable widget from Vomo, or they can run a plain version (without branding), available for download here. Or, they can simply link to the Vomo’s own forms for organizations needing volunteers and those wanting to volunteer, which will direct users to geographically relevant opportunities.

When: Newsrooms can download either version of the widget they prefer for free and begin using it right away. When readers submit their information via the widget, they will be taken to a page that connects them with either local resources or volunteer opportunities.

  

ProPublica’s localized data around hospital capacity

What/who: ProPublica has launched a tool that lets journalists see how soon hospitals in their areas could become overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients. Journalists can use the data to write about hospital capacity in their regions, as well as what local officials are doing to increase that capacity.

How: Enter your zip code to see localized data pertaining to hospital capacity in your area, and how that capacity might change under various scenarios. Then call your state health department, as well as your local hospitals, to ask about the situation as it stands and the capacity available at this moment. ProPublica suggests five questions reporters could ask of hospitals and local officials as they’re working on this story.

 

Open News Peer Data Review Program

What: OpenNews is connecting journalists working on COVID-19 data projects with peer coaches who can help them through any challenges they’re experiencing.

Who: The Peer Data Review program is for journalists who:

  • are part of a local or regional newsroom
  • come from an underrepresented background in data journalism
  • or otherwise don’t have many colleagues who do data journalism.

And it’s for stories and projects where you already have the data and:

  • aren’t sure it says what you think it says
  • don’t have a colleague to double-check your analysis
  • or just aren’t quite sure what to do next.

How: Set aside 20-30 minutes and fill out this form with information about your project. OpenNews will be in touch.

When: No deadline; OpenNews will be matching applicants with peer coaches over the coming weeks.

 

Hearken Emergency Engagement Services

What: It’s not exactly free — Hearken is providing four-month access to its engagement technology to newsrooms covering the coronavirus outbreak for $2,850. But as a special pro bono offering, they’re including six consulting calls over a period of 10 weeks to get newsrooms set up with the technology and actively using it to invite audience questions around coronavirus.

Who: Open to all newsrooms covering the coronavirus pandemic and looking to get a better sense of their audience’s information needs around the topic.

When: Access is provided on a rolling basis. The consulting calls began March 26 and run through May 21, but you can review recordings at any time.

How: Fill out the short form on Hearken’s website in one minute, and a representative of Hearken will get in touch.

 

Free content

The COVID-19 SoJo Exchange

What: The Solutions Journalism Network is compiling a list of solutions stories on coronavirus that your newsroom can republish or re-air for free under a Creative Commons license. Newsrooms and independent journalists can also offer their solutions stories to be added to this list.

Who: Any news outlet is welcome to republish the stories on SJN’s growing list for free, provided it follows the rules.

When: This is a running list that SJN will continue to add to. If you want to be alerted when more stories for republishing are added, sign up here.

How: Access the articles (and in some cases, text files and accompanying photos) directly from SJN’s list. Those looking to offer solutions stories for republishing can fill out this submission form.

 

Coronavirus content from The Conversation

What: The Conversation, a nonprofit news organization, publishes articles from academic experts that can be republished for free by other news outlets under a Creative Commons license. Articles on coronavirus range from basic explainers (what is a pandemic?), practical tips (how to stop touching your facehow to deal with anxiety), new research (COVID-19 treatment search in existing drugs), social issues (stresses to Native American healthcare), historical perspectives (ancient Greek cities during plagues), and more. All are written by verified experts.

Who: Any news outlet is welcome to republish stories from The Conversation for free, provided it follows the rules.

When: New coronavirus content is published daily.  If you’d like to get an email advisory with the full lineup, send an email to Joel Abrams.

How: Access the content by clicking the “Republish this article” button next to every article; the stories are also distributed to AP clients.

 

SciLine’s Quotes From Experts, Media Briefings and Embeddable Infographics

What:

  • Expert quotes and media briefings: SciLine tracks the most common science questions that reporters have about the coronavirus pandemic and reaches out to its network of scientific experts for quotable comments in response. The comments are compiled and organized by topic, and journalists are free to copy and paste them into their news stories as needed, with attribution to the scientists. The same goes for SciLine’s media briefings — journalists are full to clip from briefing content as needed.
  • State-by-state infographic: The graphic shows COVID-19 cases in the United States, with options to view state by state and filter for particular case-type (Confirmed and Deaths). These data come from the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering, are updated daily, and track the number of cases through the previous day. Journalists can tailor the graphic for their local audiences and then follow the instructions to embed it on their site.

 

Grants

COVID-19 Local News Fund

From: Local Media Association

Eligibility: For-profit, independent and family-owned local media companies

Deadline: First, attend one of the webinars LMA is hosting to explain how your local media company can set up a COVID-19 Local News Fund. The webinars are being held April 2, April 3, and April 6. Stay tuned for further information following the webinars.

Overview: LMA has launched an initiative to help channel tax-deductible donations to local news organizations through its 501(c)(3) foundation. LMA will essentially set up fundraising campaigns for local news organizations.

Application requirements: Attend the informational webinars to find out how to get started.

 

Coronavirus News Collaboration Challenge

From: Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting

Eligibility: Journalists/newsrooms around the world. Could be a network of freelance journalists working together or a collaboration between multiple newsrooms. One person should be selected to submit the application.

Deadline: Applications accepted on a first-come, rolling basis

Overview: The Pulitzer Center is seeking proposals that develop innovative approaches to collaboration on coronavirus coverage, and “break traditional notions of scooping and competition.” Specifically looking for proposals that:

  • address systemic issues underlying pandemic
  • use data-driven and/or interdisciplinary approaches to reporting on coronavirus
  • lift up watchdog/accountability reporting

Application requirements:

  • A description of the proposed project, including distribution/publication plan. No more than 250 words.
  • A description of your methodology. Include: who has agreed to take part in the collaboration; who will coordinate the effort; what resources will be shared across teams/newsrooms; what outputs are expected; timeline.
  • A preliminary budget estimate, including a basic breakdown of costs. (The budget for most projects will fall in the range of $5,000-$30,000.)
  • Three examples (links) of published work by you (or someone on your project team). For example: journalistic collaborations that you, your newsroom or partners in this project have been part of.
  • Three professional references.
  • A copy of your resume or curriculum vitae.

 

COVID-19 Emergency Fund for Journalists

From: National Geographic Society

Eligibility: Journalists around the world covering COVID-19 at a local or hyperlocal level, particularly in underserved communities and/or populations at high risk or hit especially hard by the virus

Deadline: Proposals will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Applications may be submitted until further notice.

Overview: The fund will distribute support ranging from $1,000–8,000 USD for local, evidence-based reporting on the preparation, response, and impact of this global pandemic. Beyond reporting on medical and physical health related to COVID-19, National Geographic especially encourages reporting that covers social, emotional, economic, and equity issues. Narratives around the pandemic necessarily include facts and numbers, but ultimately, must also go deeper—telling the stories of inequities that COVID-19 has brought to light.

 

Internews Rapid Response Fund

From: Internews has dedicated $100,000 in initial funds and is calling on global donors to increase the amount to $1 million.

Eligibility: Media outlets, organizations and individuals who are working to provide local language journalism and other forms of public information related to the coronavirus pandemic and its impacts

Deadline: Applications accepted on a rolling basis

Overview: The new rapid response fund will give community news organizations and individual reporters access to emergency funding so they can continue to operate in increasingly dire economic conditions. Internews will also invest to provide advisory services to journalists covering the virus in languages including English, Spanish, French, Arabic and Russian. Grants will be between $500 and $5,000. Grant money must be spent within 30 days, and recipients should provide a short (maximum one page) story about the work they have been able to do as a result.

Application requirements: Set aside 30 minutes to an hour to fill out the application form.

 

Relief funding for individual journalists

Substack Independent Writer Grant Program

From: Substack, an email newsletter platform

Eligibility: Independent writers actively using Substack who are experiencing economic hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic. Grants are for individuals, not media entities or companies.

Deadline: Writers can submit an application for a grant here through Tuesday, April 7 at 5:00 pm PDT.

Overview: Substack will donate up to $100,000 to writers as well as offer in-kind support, like digital coaching and sharing best practices to help take recipients’ publication to the next level. Each grant will range from $500 to $5,000. There are no strings attached for the cash grants. Recipients can use the funds for whatever they’d like, including office equipment or materials, research, or funding their time.

Application requirements: Set aside about 30 minutes and fill out this form. Substack will begin notifying grant recipients on Monday, April 13.

 

COVID-19 Hardship Fund

From: Rory Peck Trust

Eligibility: Professional freelance journalists whose finances have directly been affected by COVID-19; whose only source of income is from journalism; who are unable to access other forms of assistance in the country where they are based; and who do not have contractual benefits such as sick pay, annual leave, social security or pension

Deadline: First come, first served

Overview: During this global crisis, the Rory Peck Trust has created an extraordinary fund to provide practical and financial support to freelance journalists whose work and livelihoods have been affected by COVID-19. The funding will be provided in the form of a one-off payment, although no upfront information is offered on the payment range.

Application requirements: Fill out the application form (set aside about 30 minutes) that is designed mostly to check for eligibility. If you are deemed eligible, you will be asked to supply evidence in the form of references, payslips, bank statements, invoices, etc. to support your application.

 

IWMF Journalism Relief Fund

From: International Women’s Media Foundation

Eligibility: Women-identifying journalists who are experiencing significant financial hardship as a direct result of the pandemic, who urgently need assistance to avoid severe, irreversible outcomes. Journalists whose financial needs are not urgent are not encouraged to apply. “We have limited staff capacity to review applications. Please do not delay help to your peers in need by submitting a request that is not urgent.”

Deadline: First come, first served; requests reviewed daily

Overview: The fund will provide small grants of up to $2,000 USD per request. However, special consideration will be given on a case-by-case basis to those who have greater financial need. The fund aims to provide women-identifying journalists with the following: living assistance to prevent homelessness and food insecurity; acute medical care and mental health services; childcare; and legal support.

Application requirements: Complete a preliminary questionnaire via Submittable. Those deemed eligible for assistance will be contacted by IWMF.

 

The Photographer Fund

From: Format, an online portfolio platform for photographers

Eligibility: Self-employed photographers experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19

Deadline: First come, first served

Overview: Format created the Photographer Fund to help independent photographers who are facing unprecedented financial hardships in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. Format will offer assistance of up to $500 per person. Payments will be made via PayPal. The fund now stands at $25,000.

Application requirements: Fill out the short form and a representative from Format will be in touch.

 

Journalist Furlough Fund

From: “Journalists who want to help other journalists”

Eligibility: Journalists across the U.S. who have been temporarily laid off or had their hours reduced amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Deadline: Submit your request for assistance as soon as possible. The campaign is near reaching its $10,000 goal, and the administrators will then distribute the funds at their discretion to applicants.

Overview: This funding is not intended to make up for a journalists’ entire financial loss, but to provide a few hundred dollars that may help them in the next month with rent, bills and equipment. Recipients can have funds sent through their platform of choice (Venmo, bank transfer. etc.)

Application requirements: Take five minutes to fill out this form explaining your current situation, desired funding amount and how it will help you.

 

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If you know of something else that should be added to this list, please email stephanie.castellano@pressinstitute.org.