International Reporting Project
|Country||Washington D.C., United States|
|John Schidlovsky, Director
Louise Lief, Deputy Director
Denise Melvin, Program Coordinator
Melody Wilson, Communications Coordinator & Webmaster
|Affiliation||Johns Hopkins University|
The International Reporting Project is a project at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University that aims to fund independent journalistic coverage of "under-reported" events around the world. The program was created in 1998 as one of the early examples of the "non-profit journalism" movement, seeking to bridge the gap left by much of the mainstream media's reduction of international news.
History of the Project
The International Reporting Project (IRP) provides opportunities for U.S journalists to go abroad and report on critical issues that are under covered in the U.S. news media. Currently, nearly 300 U.S. journalists have traveled to over 85 countries to produce award-winning stories. The program is funded entirely through private, non-partisan foundations as well as individuals with a strong interest of in-depth international coverage.
The core of this program is the “IRP Fellowship in International Journalism”, in which ten journalists are brought to the IRP office in Washington, D.C. to participate in a five-week overseas reporting project. Since 1998, a total of 155 IRP Fellows in International Journalism have participated in the fellowship program covering stories on topics including international health and medical issues such as malaria, TB, HIV/AIDS, and child survival, the world of Islam, refugees and migration issues, women’s and children’s rights, press freedom, cultural and social change, human rights, economic development and post-conflict resolution. So far, stories by the IRP fellows have appeared in various international news media and have won major awards such as Emmy Awards, duPont Awards, an Oscar nomination for best documentary, Overseas Press Club Awards and many others. IRP Fellows are first introduced to a series of seminars and preparations of a total of two weeks at the IRP’s home base, The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of The Johns Hopkins University. They will then be given five weeks in their own designated countries to report on their story of choice.
The largest component of the International Reporting Project (IRP) is the “Gatekeeper Editors” fellowships which include senior editors and producers who have the ability to determine what story gets on the air, online or in print at their news organizations. Each year, two groups of 12 Gatekeeper editors are carefully selected for visits of about two weeks in a country of importance in the news at the time. Since the Gatekeepers program has been launched in 2000, a total of 119 senior editors and producers have traveled to Indonesia, Brazil, South Africa, Lebanon/Syria, India, Egypt, Nigeria, Korea, Uganda and Turkey.
Occasionally, the IRP also offers the "Journalist-in-Residence" fellowship, enabling senior journalists, in many cases, veteran foreign correspondents, to spend anywhere from one to eight months in Washington to work on a book or other project about international affairs. Along with this program, occasional conferences, panel discussions and public events on international news coverage are present.
The seminars are decided to provide journalists with a brief but intensive education on international affairs and foreign reporting. During their initial two-week stay in Washington, all IRP Fellows work alongside program staff with assistance from SAIS scholars to introduce Fellows to practical and international topics that may be of use to them in their future journalistic pursuits.
These topics include:
- Personal introductions to Washington-based experts, including SAIS faculty, who will be integral to the Fellows’ projects.
- Basic reporting safety training and logistical advice for living and working overseas.
- Key contacts and project feedback from senior news editors and producers.
IRP Fellows are given the ability to pursue an individual plan of research, interviews and other work related to the international stories they have selected to focus on during their overseas travel.
Fellows are encouraged to arrange individual interviews with the many international experts in the Washington area. Before partaking in the five-week abroad experience, the fellows will first spend two weeks in Washington D.C, partaking in preparation events as well as program planning. Program staff members and SAIS scholars will provide assistance in identifying news sources and specialists in government, think tanks, other universities, embassies and NGOs.
IRP Fellows are provided with a five-week opportunity to travel to a country or region in the world to pursue the international news story they have outlined in their application essay and for which they prepare during their first two weeks in Washington D.C.
Each Fellow works closely with program staff members to consult and plan an international itinerary that makes the best use of the limited time overseas. In addition, SAIS specialists will provide their expertise in suggesting contacts abroad who can assist IRP Fellows in their travels and work. The staff of the IRP Fellowships program is responsible for confirming and obtaining the final ticket and itineraries for each Fellow’s travel.