Credit: By DFID - UK Department for International Development [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The European Journalism Centre (EJC) has announced the opening of its sixth round of applications for the Innovation in Development Reporting Grant Programme, closing on September 9.

Journalists pitching innovative storytelling projects covering international development issues will be awarded funding of up to €20,000 (£14,000) each, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The EJC recently announced the winners of the grant's fifth round, which gave 14 projects from media outlets in countries like Denmark, Germany and the UK more than €250,000 (£177,000) in total to report on a variety of topics.

Wilfried Rütten, director of the EJC, told the next step for grantees is taking part in a two-day bootcamp starting Thursday, where they will receive support and discuss the next steps before commencing work on their projects.

"Some people are very good at storytelling, some are very good at team work and budgets, so we try to bring everyone on the same page during these two days, which is quite intense."

The winning projects touch on development issues like waste pickers in Haiti and India, whose garbage is used as filament for 3D printers, but also look at Bolivia's intercultural healthcare system and investigate how a fungus is killing crops around the world.

In previous years, projects have also explored topics such as the infiltration of Italian mafia in Africa and the next generation of 'up and coming' cities around the world.

Congo: Fueling The War trailer by rojas77 on Vimeo. Fueling the War was awarded funding in 2013.

Teams of up to five journalists will be working on the stories, which merge traditional reporting with data and visuals across different platforms and will each be published in at least two European media outlets within the next six months.

Rütten's advice for prospective applicants is to team up with people that have different strengths, rather than "feel like you can do everything by yourself".

"If you're a good storyteller, find a data visualiser or data journalist," he said. "Or if you're more of a tech person, find someone who can really tell narrative."

He also stressed the importance of having "some field experience in the country of your reporting" and choosing at least two publication outlets in different countries.

"It's a real bonus if you can show me that you're working, for example, for The Independent in England and for La Stampa in Italy," Rütten said. "That's your best bet for winning."

Teams are given a set budget to develop their ideas, but Rütten explained that staying within the limits and "protecting people from their own ambition" is sometimes hard.

Don't leave it to the last moment before the deadline and think you can just wing itWilfried Rütten, European Journalism Centre
Applicants should have a good outline of their plan and be weary of taking on a project with hopes of securing additional co-funding, because it might prove difficult in the long run.

In terms of experience, those with less reporting activity on their CV are encouraged to apply, but should consider teaming up with more senior journalists to increase their chances.

The application form initially asks journalists to pitch their story in 80 words or less and provide information about organisations involved in the reporting, the intended publication date and the estimated budget.

However, they are also required to expand on their idea's storyline, tools, and cross-platform publication strategy later on.

"It's quite a comprehensive process, so don't leave it to the last moment before the deadline and think you can just wing it," Rütten advised.

As well as planning ahead, he said those interested in the grant should consider looking at previous examples on the website before submitting their application.

"People can now see the stories we go for, what we're aiming at and get a pretty good idea of the quality that comes out of this grant. The motto is go for it and try."

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