Although legacy news outlets are cutting spending required for in-house data reporting, the beat provides original stories not being covered elsewhere, explained storyLAB director David Weisz.
That’s why Humber College’s faculty of media and creative arts storyLAB has paired with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting to fund independent, data-based journalism.
The storyLAB Data Journalism Grant of $10,000 (or $5,000 split between two strong proposals) will cover logistical costs such as travel, accommodations, equipment and consultation for data visualization for a reporting project on Indigenous land and property rights.
“A lot of newsrooms understand the value of having data journalists, or that kind of talent or capacity on staff,” said Weisz, commending organizations such as the Globe and Mail, CBC/Radio-Canada and the Discourse for the data work they’re able to do. “Unfortunately, there’s not necessarily enough resources being dedicated to it.”
The grant will be a great resource for freelance journalists to convince larger news organizations to take on in-depth stories, said Weisz. Vice and the Narwhal have expressed interest in the grant’s finished product, he said.
“The interesting thing is that a lot of data journalism is done by the desk—and you kind of need to be because you need to be able to crunch the numbers,” said Weisz. Regardless, underreported stories such as those concerning Indigenous land rights require real on-the-ground reporting to be done properly and in-depth.
“With land and property rights stories, the challenge is often getting access to property records, land transaction records, maps, and geospatial data,” Steve Sapienza, senior strategist with Pulitzer Center, told J-Source by email. Access to that data can take a considerable amount of time and money, he said.
The subject of Indigenous land and property rights was decided on as a follow-up to the Pulitzer Center’s three previous grants on similar land rights around the world, said Sapienza.
Weisz said he just knows there’s a wealth of unanalyzed information regarding Indigenous land rights.
“I’m hoping that those [information] gaps will reveal themselves and then be filled by the applications themselves,” he said. “We have so much data – geographical data – of where all the traditional territories are, and treaty areas, and pipelines going through territories and things like that. There are so many different kinds of data rich areas that could be explored.”
The ideal proposal will include “a strong underreported story idea and feature a significant data-driven component,” said Sapienza. “For example, relying on the collection and analysis of raw data, documents, records, geospatial data, or some combination thereof.”
He said a publishing plan, including intended audience and publishing outlets, is also appreciated.
For more information about how to apply before the Nov. 30 deadline, visit the Pulitzer Center’s website.
Editor’s note: This post was updated on Oct. 18, 2019 at 3:55 p.m. ET to better reflect David Weisz’s comments regarding Canadian outlets doing commendable work in data journalism.