Guidelines for Preparing a Project Proposal

Applicants to this fellowship are required to submit a preliminary project proposal outlining a research, reporting or writing assignment to be undertaken within approximately a three month period following the fellowship orientation. In addition to explaining the topics or themes to be addressed, the proposal should outline the practical and logistical steps that will be required to complete it. Special attention should be given to explaining how an overseas working trip of one to three weeks will help develop the story idea.

Since the goal of the program is to produce published/broadcast stories, applicants should explain their expectations for how and when their stories will appear. Upon selection, fellows will be asked to have editors sign a letter of intent to publish the fellowship stories. Freelance journalists are encouraged to supply a letter of support from an editor at a media outlet where they plan to publish their work. Applicants should also explain how they plan to advance the story (in quality, number of readers/listeners/viewers, or impact). Your project proposal is intended to be preliminary, and you are not expected to necessarily have final details, contacts and travel itineraries in place at the time of the application. Strong proposals will be those that contain creative and practical ideas for producing articles that will help your audience increase their understanding of US community’s and policies’ links to the world at large.

Following are some points that must be included in the project proposal:

  1. Provide a succinct, one- or two-sentence description of the topic you plan to focus on during the fellowship.
  2. Provide a brief background of this issue. Explain if and how it has been covered previously, how it is relevant to your local community, and what aspects remain to be examined in future coverage.
  3. Explain the international dimensions of this issue and why traveling overseas to research and report on the topic will enhance the overall coverage.
  4. Outline a preliminary logistical strategy for this assignment: When would you prefer to travel? What is the likely duration of the trip? To what country or regions will you travel? List any special considerations about the travel that may be significant in planning, such as climate, challenging conditions, civil unrest, special safety concerns, special needs, etc.
  5. Explain whether you already have contacts in the country, who in the country can assist you, whether you know who you will interview and meet with, and how you will travel and live while abroad. If you do not have this information, list what type of help you expect to need in planning your assignment.
  6. Explain how you expect to report about the issue you will cover. Will this result in a single news story, a multimedia production, a feature article, a series of articles or broadcast stories, commentaries, a special supplement or TV/Radio show within your news organization, etc.? Do you expect to publish/broadcast in news outlets other than your own?

  7. If you are a freelance journalist, please outline your publishing strategy. How do you plan to get the story published? Outline any potential news outlets you plan to pitch the story to. Applications with letters of commitment or intent to publish from news outlets will be given preference.

  8. Explain the proposed timeline you will follow while reporting your stories, keeping in mind the program orientation dates and publishing deadline. 

Once selected, fellows will receive assistance from ICFJ to refine and further develop the projects and to formulate workable plans for carrying them out.