Asked and Answered: Your Questions about ICFJ Programs and More


“Over 36 years, ICFJ has provided more than 150,000 journalists from 180 countries with valuable programs and resources,” said ICFJ President Joyce Barnathan at our Tribute for Journalists 2020. But what are the programs, fellowships, global exchanges and awards available now? And what can journalists do to become part of the ICFJ network? 

These questions and more were the focus of a special post-Tribute webinar featuring ICFJ Senior Vice President Sharon Moshavi, ICFJ Deputy Vice President of New Initiatives and Impact Luis Botello, and ICFJ Vice President of Programs Johanna Carrillo.

Founded by journalists, for journalists, ICFJ is entering its thirty-seventh year. “The mission then was really what it has stayed: to help journalists be better journalists,” Moshavi said. ICFJ helps journalists provide high-quality information and news to their audiences around the world through as many as seventy programs a year. “We always try to foster news innovation, build investigative networks, increase exchange programs,” Carrillo explained.

Here are some of the questions we got about ICFJ: 

How can I join ICFJ’s network? 

Our network is made up of journalists who are connected to our work. That includes fellows and other program participants, as well as journalists in our partner networks. It also includes members of our Global Health Crisis Reporting Forum, ICFJ trainers and award winners. In 2021, we will be rolling out a new way to join our network on the ICFJ website. Keep an eye out for that!

How much must I pay to be part of ICFJ’s network?

Being part of our network is 100% free.

In what regions does ICFJ offer programs?
We have programs in various countries in Latin America, Africa, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and North America. We work everywhere but focus on regions that need it most, when they need it most. “We’re looking for opportunities where we can make change,” Moshavi said. Find all our opportunities here.

Do program participants have to be fluent in English?

While some programs, especially global ones, require participants to speak English, many others are conducted in local languages. Most of our Latin America programs are done in Spanish, for example. Additionally, our IJNet website publishes in eight languages. The Global Health Crisis Reporting Forum -- which connects journalists covering the pandemic with health experts, resources and each other -- is offered in five different languages.

What is ICFJ looking for when reviewing applications? How can applicants present the best application to get selected?

The short answer is: it depends on the program. 

However, what we are always looking for are diversity and excellence. We select people who have a proven record of being committed to high-quality journalism. Additionally, if a program is focused on a specific topic, applicants should demonstrate quality reporting on the subject. 

We also recommend applicants put time and effort into their applications. Instead of applying to multiple programs, they should select the one that fits their career and interests best. Then, they should spend time working on their application, asking themselves the following questions: What do I want to get out of the program? What can I bring to the program? How does the program fit into my career path?

What are the best ways to stay up to date with new ICFJ program offerings?

Sign up for IJNet’s newsletter. Every week, you will get all of our opportunities, and more, in your inbox. We also recommend joining the ICFJ Forum for webinars, collaboration opportunities and other resources. And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

What kind of impact is ICFJ seeking from program participants?

For all programs, we focus on impact at three different levels: individual, organizational and societal. 

At the individual level, we emphasize journalists’ ability to lead important and difficult investigations while connecting with their audiences. We look for professional development and skill-building. 

The second impact we seek is within newsrooms. We look at adoption of new tools, improvements to the production process, innovative use of videos and more. We try to understand how participants are incorporating what they’ve learned into their newsrooms. 

At the societal level, we hope that the work of our participants triggers change. Whether it be through bringing the attention of experts to the issue, implementation of new policies, or other societal responses, we seek stories that impact their communities.

Lastly, we place emphasis on building networks of journalists, especially when it comes to investigative journalism. These connections give journalists the capacity to work collaboratively and support each other. Such investigative journalists networks are the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) in Eastern Europe, the Connectas Hub in Central America and the Mexico Border Investigative Reporting Hub.

[View past webinars and key quotes]

How much influence do journalists get in shaping ICFJ programs?

We take feedback from our participants very seriously. We use that information to create new versions of the programs or apply the lessons learned to new proposals. When creating new programs, we talk to journalists from the region or who have experience covering the specific topic at hand. We also work with local partner organizations that help us shape our projects. “Every journalist that has participated in a program has the right to improve that program or others in the future,” Moshavi said. 

What type of research work does ICFJ do?

In 2017, we started a bi-annual survey on how technology is used in newsrooms. Last year, we hired a new global director of research, Julie Posetti, who’s now leading our research arm. This year, we launched the Journalism and the Pandemic project, looking at the implications of COVID-19 in the field of journalism. We heard from journalists in 125 countries. Thanks to the findings from these surveys, we are able to better understand the needs of journalists around the world and then adapt our programs to better fit those needs.

What were the main findings from the Journalism and the Pandemic project?

Through the survey, we have seen that journalists have found the top sources of disinformation to be citizens and elected officials. They have also told us that the biggest challenge during the pandemic is the emotional and psychological impact of covering COVID-19. What’s more, we found that half of the journalists report that their sources are increasingly concerned about talking to them for fear of reprisal. Additionally, we see that online abuse is up by 20%. Read the initial report for more information about the findings.

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