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Power Struggle

Discourse Media unveils fellowship aimed at boosting local investigative journalism

The Local News Fellowship will support three reporters with up to $9,000 each to uncover stories about energy and environment in their community.

Reporter Emma Jones sits down with Jennifer Poole and Debra Trask at Peace Island Park in Taylor, B.C., to discuss how resource development in the region has impacted them.

At Discourse, we’ve reported on issues like land rights, energy access, and resource development by sending our reporters from our office in Vancouver into smaller communities.

Since we’re committed to ongoing coverage of these issues, we’ve been trying to figure out: how can we support sustained storytelling in and from communities like these across Canada?

That’s why we’re launching the local news fellowship. Focused on investigative reporting about energy and the environment, this fellowship will support three journalists or storytellers who live in and can engage their community to tell stories that matter to them. Fellows will receive training and be funded for six months.

Why focus on local investigative journalism? Canada suffers from local news poverty. Waves of ownership consolidation and struggling business models translate to laid-off reporters and shuttered newsroom doors – silencing voices on distinct issues that matter to all Canadians. Between 2008 and late 2016, 169 news outlets either closed or merged across 131 communities in Canada, according to research from the crowdsourced Local News Research Project. With repeated calls to #savelocalnews, it’s time to respond.

Finding gaps in reporting, looking for solutions and building stories that carry impact is what Discourse does best. Drawing on experiences from our Power Struggle project, which supported journalists around the world to report on energy access issues in a time of climate change, we’re now seeking to build capacity in our own backyard.

This fellowship opportunity turns it over to freelance reporters or storytellers to decide what their community’s own information gaps are, fill them and kickstart local and national conversations in the process.

Preference will be given to reporters who have deep knowledge of the communities and topics that they plan to report on. Applications are due by midnight Pacific Standard Time on Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017, and details can be found here. Three selected fellows will be announced in January, 2018.


The local news fellowship is administered and produced by Discourse Media through financial support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Catherine Donnelly Foundation.