Monday, March 30, 2015

Penplusbytes Monitor Election across Africa

Recognizing the critical role played by the media during elections in facilitating participation by citizens, eliminating differential access by political parties to the public in particular, enabling voters to make informed choices and ensuring free and fair elections, the International Institute of ICT Journalism, Penplusbytes, through its African Elections Project (AEP) is committed to providing independent information through impartial coverage of major elections activities across Africa using ICTs.

With about 15 African elections to elect new presidents and national assemblies, scheduled for this calendar year (2015), Penplusbytes’ AEP has since January deployed it’s platforms to successfully cover elections in Zambia, Lesotho and Nigeria, currently, with plans underway to cover the Presidential and National Assembly elections in the Republic of Sudan on 2nd April 2015, and the April 15th, 2015 Presidential elections in Togo.

The elections in South Sudan will be its first post-independence elections and will, according to the Sudanese government, have 17 political parties participating.

In Togo, Faure Gnassingbe’s Rally for the Togolese People will face the strongest test yet since independence from the National Alliance for Change’s (ANC)’s 62-year-old Jean-Pierre Fabre. 8 opposition parties merged to form the ANC in their bid to wrestle power from the ruling RTP. The polls will mark the country’s 6th presidential election since the birth of democracy in the 1990s.
Though none is of least importance, the AEP will keep its prime focus in the coming days on the on the two presidential elections slated for April due to the unique opportunities and challenges they present to the peace and stability of the respective countries and Africa at large.

The AEP, established in 2008, has built for itself a reputation of working to empower journalists and other stakeholders to effectively cover elections using Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) across the continent which has seen its work over the years in about 14 countries including Namibia, Ghana, Mauritania, Mozambique, Malawi and Togo, contributing to the transparency and credibility of the polls.

The media’s role in ensuring free and fair elections is indispensable. All over the world, the media has over time exhibited commitment to being a key player in fostering peace, equality and justice on the continent.

In addition to the AEP’s main website and the AEP blog, Penplusbytes has also deployed its social media platforms via Twitter Facebook to keep followers abreast with happenings on the elections front across Africa.

Penplusbytes is a leading organization in Africa, established in 2001 and working in 3 areas: the use of technology to drive governance and accountability, new media and innovations as well as oil, gas and mining.

African Elections Project (AEP) is coordinated by International Institute for ICT Journalism covering elections across the continent and serving as an Elections Information and Knowledge online portal.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The GroundTruth Project announces third annual Middle East reporting fellowship

We are proud to announce the 2015 The GroundTruth Project Middle East reporting fellowship with support from the Correspondents Fund. The fellowship has previously been offered in the spirit of great foreign correspondents who died on assignment, including The New York Times’ Anthony Shadid who died in Syria in 2012 and Marie Colvin of The Sunday Times who was killed in Syria a few days later.

This year we offer the fellowship in the spirit of James Foley, the American freelance reporter who was murdered by the self-described Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in 2014. In this year’s call for fellowship applications we are encouraging young journalists to put forward proposals to report on life, education and culture in the region — themes which too often go unreported amid a focus on conflict coverage.

Jim was always more than a conflict reporter. He came at this profession not purely from the adrenaline rush of covering war, but more deeply from a sense of caring about the people caught in conflict. Before becoming a journalist, Jim offered public service with Teach for America where he worked in a tough inner-city school system in Phoenix, Arizona. He also received a master’s degree at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst for writing and won a prestigious literary prize for a collection of published fiction.

We hope the GroundTruth fellowship will provide the opportunity for a young correspondent in the field to take inspiration from Jim’s approach, which included a sense of caring about young people that coursed through his reporting and his life. We are also interested in proposals that might honor another side of Jim, which was his love of fiction and poetry.

To apply, please send the following materials to GroundTruth managing editor Kevin Grant at kgrant [at] by April 3:

*Cover letter
*Project proposal with a budget not exceeding $10,000
*Three work samples
*Three references

Rapid Passage of Freedom of Information Bill to Law Can Aid Fiscal Transparency

The Civil Society Platform on Ghana’s IMF Bailout made up of CSOs such as; Ghana Integrity Initiative, Penplusbytes, Imani Center for Policy and Education, SEND Ghana, Oxfam ,Institute of Chartered Accountants, Ghana, Centre for Democratic Development, Financial Accountability & Transparency-Africa, African Centre for Energy Policy, Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition, African Centre for Parliamentary Affairs, Occupy Ghana among others, wish to congratulate the Government of Ghana on the successful completion of negotiations with the IMF for a Fund programme.

As we have consistently echoed, the final agreement should contain measures that would ensure fiscal discipline, accountability and transparency, link stabilization to transformation, as well as protect strategic pro-poor and pro-development spending. These, we believe would guarantee better allocation of public resources, efficient and effective service delivery as well as enhance our country’s Public Financial Management system so that the current bailout agreement becomes the very last going forward.

Fortunately, the Platform has had fruitful engagements with government and the IMF team during the negotiations stages of the agreement which is quite novel relative to previous programmes with the IMF. We believe this is essential to allow for the needed citizens’ buy in so as to deal with the apprehension and distrust associated with IMF programmes often due to general lack of openness and absence of citizens’ participation in such processes.

We therefore, encourage the citizenry to support government to effectively implement and monitor the Fund programme after the deal is signed next month.

Rationale for Law on Right to Information/Freedom of Information

Today, our concern and the reason why we have called this Press Conference is the non-passage of the Right to Information legislation. As you would expect, the concept of access to information is essentially people’s right to know what government is doing with the tax payers’ money and what government plans to do in their name and on their behalf.

However, a major hurdle faced by many in Ghana including; those in academia, think-thanks, civil society, as well as the media is difficulty in accessing rather basic public information as enshrined under article 21 (1) (f) of our country’s 1992 constitution which guarantees every citizen of Ghana, “the right to information subject to such qualifications and laws as are necessary in a democratic society’’.

Yet, most public officials and state institutions determine when and at what time to provide information with some declining such requests altogether even though in most cases information required may not have security implications for the state and are readily accessible information in other jurisdictions.

This current situation, we believe needs urgent redress if we are to hold our public office holders accountable for the management of public resources and ensure judicious use of public funds.

Consequently, we believe strongly that without timely and readily accessible information, the citizens of Ghana cannot effectively track public expenditure and resource flows through the various strata of government in order to determine how much of originally allocated public resources reach each intended end and whether or not such funds are used in the most economical, effective and efficient manner.

In this regard, a major tool that would incentivize citizens’ quest for accountability and transparency from our governance structures and institutions at the national level through to the district level is an effective Law on the Right to Information/Freedom of Information.

We affirm that the need for a Right to Information/Freedom of Information Law now, has become even more imperative with the signing of the eventual IMF bailout programme expected next month to kick start implementation of the IMF programme.

It is our conviction that citizen-based monitoring and evaluation of public policies and programmes as well as provision of feedback and suggestions under this IMF programme, are sure ways to assess the government’s execution of social and economic programmes so as to check profligacy in the system and protect the public purse.

To this end, civil society, the media and other non-state actors should be able to independently verify whether or not officially provided statistics are what pertains on the ground; we should have the information to be able to go beyond the figures and analyze the state of affairs for ourselves.

This call by civil society aligns with our President’s commitment to ensure that as a country we do not again in our history revert to the IMF in the near future for another Fund programme for whatever reasons. We should be able to do things right and learn from past errors.

Passage of the Right to Information Bill to Law

The right to access information has gained wide recognition as a central hallmark of a functional democracy in our continent and elsewhere. 6 West African countries including Nigeria out of 13 countries in Africa have a Law on Freedom of Information.

The CS Platform recognizes that a lot of work has gone on over the years on the part of the Attorney-General’s Department, Parliament’s Select Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and the Coalition on the Right to Information, among others to have the RTI bill in Parliament awaiting its second reading and possible passage before Parliament goes on recess this month.

Given the level of progress that has been made on the Bill, our expectation was that the Bill would have been passed by now. Yet, as at today, the Bill is yet to be tabled for second reading to enable the commencement of discussions/debate on the Bill on the floor of Parliament.

This current state of affairs should be of grave concern to all Ghanaians and civil society cannot fathom why there are delays in having the second reading of the Bill although Parliament’s Select Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs has concluded its deliberations and submitted its report to the august House.


The RTI Bill when passed into law will among other things provide a hierarchy of administrative avenues to ensure citizens get access to information and thus make the resort to the law court a last option.

The Civil Society Platform thus calls on our Parliamentarians to put the interest of the nation first and not betray the trust of their constituents by showing a lot more commitment to have the second reading and subsequently pass the RTI bill into law so that as a country we would not just have a law, but a legislation that opens up the door for people to have real access to information before Parliament goes on recess in March 2015.

We also call on government to be open and engaging in the implementation of the eventual programme with the IMF. As citizens of this country we will feel let down if government fails to grant the populace the critical tool for assessing the use of public resources which is the Law on Right to Information for us to effectively monitor the implementation of the bailout as was the case in the past.

Many thanks for your audience.

Mr. Joseph Winful
(Chairman-CS Platform on IMF Bailout)\


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Penplusbytes Develops New Strategic Plan to Drive its Growth

As part of stakeholder consultation for the development of a five year strategic plan, the International Institute of ICT Journalism (Penplusbytes) organised a weekend retreat from Friday, 20th March to Sunday, 22nd March, 2015, for its Board of Directors, management team and key stakeholders drawn from the donor community, Technology, Oil, Gas and Mining; Media, Governance and research sectors.

The retreat deliberated on Penplusbytes’ core thematic areas of work – Governance, New Media, and Oil, Gas and Mining - situational analysis, stakeholder analysis and environmental scan; addressing key issues facing it as well as defining its priorities to guide the next five years of its operations.
Penplusbytes’ recently launched “Connecting Citizens to Parliament” project platforms are allowing Parliament’s Committee on Government Assurances (CGA) on one hand and the “ordinary” Ghanaian on the other to collaborate on keeping track of assurances and promises made by government to the people; thus, providing an avenue for enhanced interaction between government, parliament, civil society and citizens.

Early this year, the organisation instituted a periodic Technology Salon series that draws participation from recognized bodies and individuals on a wide spectrum of topics from governance to technology with the last event focusing on “Drones for Development.” Penplusbytes has also through their ultra-modern New Media Hub, opened up new opportunities for CSOs, individuals and other organisations to leverage the advent of New Media tools in order to expand their presence online with well-designed training modules including how to write for the web and how to deploy social media platforms to boost an organisation’s efficiency in communication.

Also adding onto the progress of its “Strengthening Media Oversight of the Extractive Sectors” project, ( the institute in collaboration with the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI), rolled out the “Drilling down: Ghana extractives data dive” training event that handed down to participants the chance to fully explore the potential of open data in the extractive sector in Ghana.

During the strategic retreat, participants reviewed Penplusbytes previous 5 year strategy and suggested new vision, mission and strategic objectives areas the organisation can pursue in the coming years.

According to Bryan Pearson, Penplusbytes board chair, we spent a useful weekend with a rich crop of experts who provided insights and strategic options to Penplusbytes which can help the organisation grow both in terms of programming scope and geographic spread especially to key countries in Africa while at the same time ensuring technology is applied to strengthen good governance and democracy on the continent.

It is expected that at its next meeting, Penplusbytes board made up of Nnenna Nwakanma, Dr. Joseph Siegle, Ethan Zuckerman, Dr. Kwabena Riverson, Andrew Kwesi Kafe, Dan Gilmor, Kofi Mangesi, Charity Binka, Kwami Ahiabenu II and its chairman, Bryan Pearson, will discuss the draft strategic plan which is a direct outcome of the weekend retreat. Penplusbytes new strategic plan is expected to be ready by summer 2015.

Penplusbytes is a leading organization in Africa, established in 2001 and working in 3 areas: the use of technology to drive governance and accountability, new media and innovations as well as oil, gas and mining.

Society of Environmental Journalists Excellence in Environmental Reporting

The Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) is accepting submissions for its annual recognition of excellence in environmental reporting. The awards honor journalists in seven different categories, including outstanding feature story, outstanding in-depth reporting, outstanding photography and best environmental book.
Journalists need not be environmental specialists to enter; reporters who cover other beats are welcome to submit their work on environmental topics. International journalists are also encouraged to enter, but if their work is written in a language other than English, they must include an English translation with their entry.
The fee for each submission ranges from US$40 for SEJ members to US$100 for non-members.
The winners in each category will receive US$500 in October at SEJ’s Annual Conference in Norman, Oklahoma.

Deadline to enter: April 1

Instructions for Entering:

FIRST: It will help us if you  REGISTER ON SEJ.ORG(Why?)
To access the entry forms, click on the entry forms below. If you register on and are signed in, your contact information will autofill. Please note that registrations are not automatically approved. SEJ will make every effort to approve your registration on in a timely way, but if you register after 11:00 p.m. Eastern time, you will most likely have to wait until morning to be approved.
Already registered? Sign in to enable autofill on your entry form. To reset your password, get help here. If you forget your username, email the SEJ office.
Below you will find the definitions and entry forms for SEJ's 2015 categories. When you have selected your category, prepare the materials you will need for entering. Once your materials are assembled, click the name of the category (below) to open the online form. Follow the instructions at the top of the form. Some fields have instructions written below them. Please take note of all instructions!
Materials needed:
• PDFs* or links to each story, commentary or photo
• Radio entries: MP3 files, 20MB max.
• Confirmation that your entry ran or aired during the contest period: 3/1/2014 - 2/28/2015, or that your book was published in 2014. **
• Broadcast transcript if you enter radio or television stories, or if your online entry includes audio/video components
• Broadcast run time
• Credit card for immediate online payment. (You can opt to send a check on the online payment site.)
Note: Cover letters are no longer required. If you want to include a cover letter, you can upload it along with other supplemental materials in the space provided.
* 20MB max file size. Multiple PDFs for one day must be combined. See Help with low-resolution or combined PDFs.
** Series that begin or end during the designated contest period qualify in their entirety.
If you are unable to reduce your file to 20MB, email Awards Director Chris Bruggers or call her at (502) 641-1844.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism

Mental illnesses constitute some of the most serious, unrecognized, and under-reported health problems in the United States and around the world. As part of an international effort to reduce stigma and discrimination, The Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism provide stipends to journalists from the United States and Colombia — and previously in Romania, South Africa, and New Zealand — to report on topics related to mental health or mental illnesses. The goals of the fellowships are to:
  • Increase accurate reporting on mental health issues and decrease incorrect, stereotypical information
  • Help journalists produce high-quality work that reflects an understanding of mental health issues through exposure to well-established resources in the field
  • Develop a cadre of better-informed print and electronic journalists who will more accurately report information through newspapers, magazines, radio, television, film, and online and social media, influencing their peers to do the same.

Eligibility and Application Requirements

Eligible applicants for a fellowship must:
  • Have at least three years of experience in print or electronic journalism (writing, reporting, editing, producing, filmmaking)
  • Submit a complete application, including three letters of recommendation
  • Awarded fellows must attend orientation and presentation meetings in September, at the beginning and end of the fellowship year
  • Be a citizen or legal resident of the United States or Colombia (View application procedures for international applicants.)

Application Materials

To complete the online application, be prepared to provide the following:
Resume: A list of representative publications, membership in professional organizations, major journalism prizes and/or awards and year awarded.
Objectives for Fellowship and Project Description: In an informal essay, not to exceed 1000 words:
  • Describe reasons for applying and how this fellowship could benefit the applicant's body of work
  • Clearly outline the proposed project and a plan for carrying it out
  • Discuss the significance and timeliness of the topic, and explain the feasibility of the project
  • Detail the potential impact the chosen topic and overall fellowship may have on reducing the stigma of mental illnesses
Samples of Professional Work:
Submit up to three examples of your work. At least one of the samples should be in the media form proposed. Articles should be in original format published or scans of originals. Do not submit an item that cannot be replaced. Materials cannot be returned. Please note that it is not required for the articles submitted to be mental health pieces.
Letters of recommendation (three total):
Names, titles, e-mail addresses and phone numbers of two people familiar with your work who can comment on your abilities and potential as a journalist and should provide letters of recommendation.
Publication Information:
Name, title, e-mail address and phone number of your organization's publisher, editor, producer, manager or director, who can support your application and write a letter of this support. If self-employed, a letter of recommendation must come from an individual familiar with your work.
Applications for the 2015-2016 fellowship year should be submitted no later than Friday, April 17, 2015.
"Informed journalists can have a significant impact on public understanding of mental health issues as they shape debate and trends with the words and pictures they convey." 
– Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter

APPLY NOW: N.S. Bienstock Fellowship

An award established in 1999 by Richard Leibner and Carole Cooper, the original owners of N.S. Bienstock. Acquired by United Talent Agency in 2014, the firm now known as Bienstock, a UTA Company has been a leading talent agency in news and reality-based programming for more than 50 years and is a long-time member of RTDNA. This award recognizes a promising minority journalist in radio or television news.

In addition to the $2,500 award, winners are invited to attend the Excellence in Journalism conference.
  • Professional broadcast or digital journalists with fewer than 10 years of experience.
  • Journalists may apply for only one RTDNF fellowship
  • Past RTDNF fellows are not eligible.
  • Complete the online application form, including:
    • Contact information
    • Experience
    • URL links to 3-5 work samples
      • Work samples should be broadcast (television/radio) or online news pieces
      • Work samples should be uploaded to a host site like YouTube, Vimeo, SoundCloud, etc.
  • Upload the supplemental materials:
    • Cover letter
      • Discuss your current and past journalism experience
      • Describe how you intend to use the funds
      • Discuss your choice to pursue a career in journalism
      • Addressed to RTDNF Scholarship Committee
    • Resume
    • Letter of recommendation
      • From a professor, advisor, or supervisor
      • Addressed to RTDNF Scholarship Committee

Jacque I. Minnotte Health Reporting Fellowship

This award was created to honor former news director and Medstar executive Jacque Minnotte, who died in 1993. This fellowship recognizes excellence in health or medical television and radio reporting.

In addition to the $2,000 award, winners of the Jacque I. Minnotte Health Reporting Fellowship are invited to attend the Excellence in Journalism conference.


  • Professional broadcast or digital journalists with fewer than 10 years of experience.
  • Journalists may apply for only one RTDNF fellowship
  • Past RTDNF fellows are not eligible.


  • Complete the online application form, including:
    • Contact information
    • Experience
    • URL links to 3-5 work samples
      • Work samples should be broadcast (television/radio) or online news pieces
      • Work samples should be uploaded to a host site like YouTube, Vimeo, SoundCloud, etc.
  • Upload the supplemental materials:
    • Cover letter
      • Discuss your current and past journalism experience
      • Describe how you intend to use the funds
      • Discuss your choice to pursue a career in journalism
      • Addressed to RTDNF Scholarship Committee
    • Resume
    • Letter of recommendation
      • From a professor, advisor, or supervisor
      • Addressed to RTDNF Scholarship Committee

Friday, March 20, 2015

APPLY NOW: The Grist Fellowship Program

The Grist Fellowship Program is an opportunity to hone your skills at a national news outlet and deepen your knowledge of environmental issues. We’re looking for early-career journalists with a variety of skills, from traditional reporting to multimedia whizbangery. We will offer exposure to the leading sustainability thinkers and theories of our time, real-world experience at a fast-paced news site, and the occasional office chili cook-off.

What is expected of the fellows?

Fellows will work full-time, making daily contributions to Grist’s editorial operations including (but not limited to) research, reporting, story ideas, writing, and multimedia experiments. Working closely with the fellowship program manager, each fellow will also identify a long-term special project to produce in collaboration with others on the team. We will encourage full participation in staff discussions and meetings, seek input on issues large and small, and laugh politely (or heartily, depending on the circumstances) at all your jokes.

What are the details?

Fellows work out of Grist’s Seattle office. Fellows must make a six-month commitment. The fellowship pays $2,250 per month. In special cases the fellowship will be renewable once by mutual agreement between the fellow and Grist. Renewal candidates will be considered alongside the applicant pool for the next fellowship cycle.

Who should apply?

Any curious, self-motivated, hard-working individual who wants to grow as a storyteller. We are looking for writers, reporters, and editors, as well as all-stars in fields such as video, audio, and data visualization. Our primary subject areas are climate and energy, food, cities, science and technology, pop culture, and environmental justice. Candidates are most likely college or j-school grads, with some experience in journalism.


Applicants must submit the following in one PDF attachment:
1. A resume and cover letter. We are looking for a succinct, thoughtful cover letter that displays your qualifications, enthusiasm, and communication style.
2. Pitch two short-form story ideas for the Grist website. Each story idea should be a brief paragraph.
3. You got the assignment! Pick one of the ideas you pitched in the above section and write the actual story. The story should run no longer than 400 words. Please include a link to an image or video that you would run with the story. (Note: We do not intend to publish this assignment, so don’t worry about whether you have the rights to the image or video.)
4. Pitch a feature story idea. What aspect of the environmental/sustainability story are you passionate about covering? How would you explore that passion in the form of a feature story for Grist? Please specify how you would approach the feature, including target sources, length and format, potential angle, multimedia aspects, etc. Pitch should be no longer than 300 words.
5. Three samples of your work. Writing samples can be newspaper or magazine clips, blog posts, or unpublished pieces. We will gladly accept links to multimedia samples (video, illustration, infographic, podcast, etc.), but cannot review original files.


Applications should be emailed to Please include all materials in one PDF attachment. Incomplete applications will not be considered.
For fellowships that begin in July/August 2015, please submit applications by March 30, 2015.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

APPLY NOW: Bringing Home the World: International Reporting Fellowship Program for Minority Journalists

The Bringing Home the World Fellowship helps U.S.-based minority journalists cover compelling yet under-reported international stories, increasing the diversity of voices in global news. The program helps level the playing field and redress the inequality minority journalists often face by giving them the opportunity to report from overseas and advance their careers.

In previous years, fellows have produced more than 120 stories, enriching their communities with new perspectives on global issues. Many of the fellows’ stories have been hard-hitting reports that have exposed abuses and corruption, as well as documented the extraordinary lives of unsung people. A quarter of the reporters have won awards for their coverage. Fellows’ stories have appeared in news media ranging from NPR to the Miami Herald to the Daily Beast, with a combined reach of more than 100 million people.

The participants say that this program helps to advance their careers because they have gained international experience and learned new digital skills.

Prior to the Fellows' overseas travel, ICFJ will hold an intense orientation in May 2015, in Washington, D.C., to prepare them for their foreign reporting work. Each fellow is also paired with a mentor who provides guidance throughout the program. The Fellows’ depart for their reporting assignments between the months of June and August, depending on the destination and other factors. While overseas, the Fellows blog about their experiences and also share tidbits about their reporting assignments on social media including Twitter and Facebook.

Upon their return from abroad, fellows will be expected to complete their stories and publish or broadcast them by November 1, 2015. Their work will then appear in U.S. media outlets, as well as ICFJ's online compendium of fellowship stories.

The 2015 fellowship is sponsored by the Ford Foundation, the Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation, the Scripps Howard Foundation, the Brooks and Joan Fortune Family Foundation and United Airlines.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

2015 Reham Al-Farra (RAF) Memorial Journalists Fellowship Programme

The Reham Al-Farra (RAF) Memorial Journalists Fellowship Program, established by the United Nations, provides journalists with an opportunity to gain first-hand experience in the work of the United Nations in New York. It is also an opportunity to meet journalists from other countries and exchange ideas with U.N. communication professionals.
The 2015 fellowship will take place Sept. 10 to Oct. 8. The program is open to journalists from 35 countries, with the intention of selecting 15 candidates, each from a different country. Participants will receive airfare and a daily allowance.
The deadline to apply is March 31.
Candidates must be nationals of one of the countries mentioned and must meet all the following requirements:
  • Age between 22 and 35.
  • Currently employed by a recognized media organization. Freelancers, translators and UN employees or immediate family members of UN employees are not eligible.
  • Oral and written fluency in English. Applicants from Non-English speaking countries will be interviewed on the phone.
  • Several years of professional journalism experience and proven interest in the work of the United Nations.
Participants are expected to:
  • Familiarize themselves with the issues before the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly.
  • Shadow UN media professionals and participate in hands-on activities and workshops.
  • Participate in a two-day academic workshop at a university in New York.
  • Undertake professional work assignments. Each participant will be required to compile a dossier of news stories or scripts.
  • Attend briefings by officials of the UN Secretariat and special events.
  • Visit major media organizations and relevant NGOs in New York to observe their operations.
  • Economy single round trip airline ticket from your country to New York.
  • A daily subsistence allowance (DSA) to cover your accommodation, meals, local transportation and other expenses. The current daily rate for New York is US$ 378.00.
  • Upon completion of the Programme requirements and assignments, participants will receive a certificate of participation.
Once selected, participants will need to undertake the following:
  • Obtain a Visitor Visa to the United States and acquire health insurance to cover possible medical expenses in the United States.
  • Provide a reference letter from his/her current employer, granting leave of absence for the full duration of the Programme. While in New York, participants are required to file relevant UN stories with their news organizations.
  • In preparation for the Programme, participants are required to research recent UN activities in their countries and familiarize themselves with the UN System through the UN website ( and other relevant sources of information.
Click Here for Aplication Details

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Parliament Launches “Connecting Citizens to Parliament” Digital Platform

The Parliament of Ghana is today, launching the “Connecting Citizens to Parliament” digital platform project in Accra.

The  project is to help Parliament's Committee of Government Assurances (CGA) to undertake its mandate of monitoring all assurances and promises made by the executive arm of government. The project which is in collaboration with Penplusbytes with support from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) will be launched at the La Palm Beach Hotel.

“Connecting Citizens to Parliament” which started as a pilot last year with funding from STAR-Ghana is now scaled up to reach more citizens with technical and financial support from OSIWA. In this second more wider reaching phase, Penplusbytes has delivered well-developed digital platforms that enhance interaction between the CGA, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), citizens and other stakeholder to better track and monitor assurances and projects promised by government.

The “Connecting Citizens to Parliament” project is set to boost the capacity of the CGA on one hand and citizens on the other by increasing and closing feedback loops via SMS web-platform, mobile app as well as social media tools.

According Hon. Kwasi Bedzrah, Chairman of the CGA “Citizen Engagement is vital to the survival democracy in current democratic dispensation, the case of the Arab Spring, i.e Tunisia and Egypt where governments were removed through the use of social media. Any government that wants to survive its mandate must engage those who elected them.” The launch will provide an avenue to announce the modalities of the committee’s work; making known all the available platforms and how they can be utilized as purposed. ”It will bring together stakeholders such as Members of Parliament, government officials, ordinary citizens, CSOs, and the media to the table using digital platform with the hope that we will have fruitful deliberations on how collectively we can make democracy work for Ghana through closing the feedback loop”

Jerry Sam, Project Director at Penplusbytes said, the “connecting citizens to parliament” project has successfully enabled CGA and key stakeholders to actively keep track of key government promises in the last year. We hope to consolidate the vitality of the interactions between Parliament, CBO/CSOs and citizens; with more effective tracking of assurances that will be followed up by the committee to provide feedback to citizens. Happily we have expanded the array of avenues that citizens can engage using shortcode 9030, web-platform , mobile app, as well as social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter @govassurance.

Note to Editors

Penplusbytes is a not-for-profit organization that seeks to empower the media through the use of Information and Communications Technology to advance journalism in the coverage of governance and accountability, new media and innovations, and mining, oil and gas.

Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) is an open society foundations that works to build vibrant and tolerant societies whose governments are accountable and open to the participation of all people.

APPLY NOW: 2015 Advanced ICT Training (AICTT) Camp

As West Africa continues to mature in the industry, it is felt that more of an emphasis needs to take place in reaching maximum potential. Though ICT awareness and basic capacity building training exist across the sub-region, the global economy still requires developing countries to keep pace with the changing and advancing nature of ICT especially in fields that can develop and protect content.
The growing sector demands for advance skilled ICT professionals as there still lays a vacuum of advanced training and capacity building of the ICT sector in the region with a strong focus on a local West African context. In response, 100 young ICT professionals from West Africa have an opportunity to advance their theoretical and practical knowledge in ICT during an Advanced ICT Training (AICTT) Camp, hosted in The Gambia.

The aim of the Camp is to bridge the digital divide through capacity building in the ECOWAS region. Though ICT awareness and basic capacity building training exist across the Sub-region, the global economy still requires developing countries to keep pace with the changing and advancing nature of ICT especially in fields that can develop and protect content.

Scholarships Requirements:

A scholarship program will allow 50 successful applicants to enjoy complimentary training and camp activities, feeding, flight transport to The Gambia (except Gambian scholarship awardees), accommodation (except Gambian scholarship awardees), and ground transportation to and from the training center each day.

All scholarship applicants should provide the following in order to apply:
1.   Must be a citizen of Nigeria, Ghana or The Gambia
2.   Female ICT professionals will be highly considered
3.   All applicants must have
–   A Bachelor’s Degree or higher in an IT or ICT related field
–   At least two years of work experience in an ICT position/field
–   If not applicable, the participant should provide a diploma or advanced certificate in IT or ICT training, proof of at least two years of work experience in an ICT position/field (e.g. letter of recommendation)
4.   Must be fluent in speaking, reading, and writing English
5.   Must be between the ages of 23 to 35
6.   Must have a laptop that will be brought along when travelling to The Gambia
7.   Must provide an updated CV/Resume
8.   Must provide proof of employment / self-employment
9.   Must provide at least one letter of recommendation from at least two institutions on current CV/Resume
10.   Must provide an application/motivational letter describe why they are a good candidate for AICTT Camp 2015
11.   Must have a valid passport
12.   Must have a valid Yellow Book
13.   Must highlight any personal health issues or indications
All scholarship participants must note that they will be financially responsible for all additional expenses pertaining to feeding, basic necessities, personal items, transportation and entrance to personal places of interest, etc. for the entire four weeks.

Application Deadline: March 20th 2015
When: April 1st – 24th 2015
Where: Gambia

Selected scholarship participants will be informed on 20th March 2015.
Apply Now for the Advanced ICT Training (AICTT) Camp

Monday, March 16, 2015

APPLY NOW: The International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF) Howard G. Buffet Fund

About the Fund

The IWMF’s Howard G. Buffett Fund for Women Journalists is an incredible resource for talented reporters and will make a real difference in the field of journalism. Beginning in 2015, the IWMF will make an annual total of $230,000 worth of grants to support women journalists in their projects and endeavors. The fund is not limited in either the grant dollar amount or the number of grants awarded within the annual total. There will be up to four rounds of funding every year for ten years. The inaugural funding round will be open for online applications from March 2 – 23, 2015.


An applicant must be a woman journalist. If applicable, teams of journalists may apply, but the team leader must be a woman journalist and the group must include at least 50 percent women.

The fund was designed to help women journalists by providing grantees support to:

•    Expose under-reported but critical global issues
•    Undertake ambitious projects that challenge traditional media narratives
•    Develop field-based expertise and strengthen careers
•    Pursue training and leadership opportunities
•    Launch entrepreneurial news projects or acquire the skill to do so

A voting committee comprised of distinguished IWMF Board Members, Courage in Journalism Awardees, and IWMF supporters will select grantees. Applicants will be notified of the fund’s grant decisions approximately 6 to 8 weeks after the deadline for each funding round*. We will work with individual grants recipients to determine a disbursement of funds timeline that best suits the project.

2015 Fund Timeline

2015 Fund Timeline
Funding Round*
Application Open
Applicants Contacted
Funds Distributed
March 2 – 23, 2015
Funding decisions will be made 6 to 8 weeks after the close of the application
IWMF will work with grantees to distribute funds in a manner that best suits their project
Dates will be posted on IWMF website after the close of prior rounds
* The number of rounds per year depends on the amount of funding dispersed in prior rounds.

Applying for a Grant

Applicants must be prepared to provide the following information (in English):

1. Contact Information
2. Brief description of the project or opportunity you are seeking funding for
3. If applicable, a list of any other team members or applicants
4. Description of the purpose of the proposal and the issue/problem it is designed to address
5. Estimated budget and time frame
6. Two (2) letters of recommendation

Additional Application Information

•    Each applicant creates a username and password through the online application system. The system allows applicants to log-in and save work before creating a final submission.
•    Letters of recommendation must be submitted through the online system. IWMF will not be able to accept recommendation letters through email or traditional mail. Applicants will be provided and online link to share with recommenders to facilitate letter submission.
•    Applicants receive a confirmation e-mail once a completed grant proposal has been submitted.
•    Applicants and grantees retain their intellectual property rights throughout their relationship with the IWMF.

Grant Recipients

•    Grantees are notified by the IWMF staff no later than 8 weeks after the close of the application process.
•    In order to accept the funds, grantees must countersign a grant agreement letter that details the project, budget, and timeline.
•    Grantees are required to report back to the IWMF periodically and will work with an IWMF Program Officer to determine a succinct method of grant reporting. Our intention is that grant reporting is not time consuming for recipients.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

International Reporting Project (IRP) Fellowship

The International Reporting Project (IRP) is now accepting applications for reporting fellowships on two different topics: health/development and religion.
These fellowships are intended to provide in-depth coverage of important, under-covered international issues.

Applicants may choose only one area of focus per application; if you would like to apply for both health/development and religion fellowships, you must submit separate application forms for each.


Applicants may propose stories that examine maternal and child health; poverty; HIV/AIDS, TB, malaria, and other infectious diseases; nutrition and food security; education; access to roads and electricity; sanitation and water; sustainability; technology; equality and women's rights.
For the health/development fellowships, we have a strong preference for in-depth reporting from countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The health/development fellowships are supported by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


Applicants may propose any stories that relate to religion, including its role as a source of tension or conflict; its relationship to politics, economics or access to health, housing or clean water; its impact on art and culture, religion and human rights; or other issues.

For the religion fellowships, we encourage applicants to propose stories and destinations not covered by recent IRP fellows on religion.

The religion fellowships are supported by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation.

More Details

Applications will be considered as they are submitted on a rolling basis until Monday, March 16.
The time spent in the field is flexible; fellows may propose to report for two to seven weeks. Fellows may also choose to extend their fellowships at their own cost.

IRP will purchase the fellows' roundtrip air tickets to and from their homes and destinations, but all other travel must be arranged and paid by the fellow. IRP will offer a stipend based, in part, upon the budgets that all applicants must submit.

Travel on these fellowships must take place no sooner than two months, and no later than four months, after the fellowship is awarded. For example, someone awarded a fellowship on March 30 may not begin travel before May 30 and must initiate travel no later than July 30.


Applications are open only to journalists from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Kenya, Nigeria, Norway, Malaysia, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States and Zambia.
Staffers and freelancers alike are encouraged to apply, and special attention will be paid to innovative forms of storytelling and projects involving new media.

Depending upon the proposal, teams of journalists may be considered; in that case, each journalist would apply separately, and mention their intention to work with another applicant in their essay.
The fellowships are intended for professional journalists who have worked for years as professionals and who have a record of outstanding achievement in reporting for influential media outlets.
This fellowship is not intended for students or for recent graduates without much professional reporting experience.

How to Apply

All applicants must fill out an application form.

Each proposal must include an essay of at least 1,000 words describing the stories they would produce during the fellowship. All essays must be in English. However, the stories and other updates produced by the international Fellows may be in English or in other languages. IRP encourages stories in a variety of media, including print, online, radio, television, photography, blog posts, social media and video.

Applicants are also required to submit a budget, which assists in determining the amount of the stipend. Typical costs include domestic transportation; fixers or translators; hotel accommodations; visas; food; and any other expenses related to reporting internationally. Fellows are not required to submit receipts or post-fellowship expense reports.

A telephone interview with finalists will also be a part of the selection process.

All of the fellows’ stories will be republished on the IRP website and co-owned by the fellow (or his/her distribution partners, depending on agreements) and the IRP.

APPLY NOW: SAJA 2015 Journalism Scholarships

SAJA is now accepting applications for its 2015 high school, undergraduate, and graduate-level journalism scholarships.  Last year, SAJA awarded $60,000 in scholarship and internship assistance. This year, the organization looks forward to again making substantive awards to help students pursue their education and future careers in journalism.

High school students, undergraduates, and graduate students continuing their studies in the fall of 2015 are eligible to apply for funding for their educational expenses. Scholarship amounts typically range from $2,500-$5,000 each. These annual monetary awards recognize the accomplishments and commitment of emerging journalists.

Students from across the United States, Canada and South Asia can apply for the awards. All applicants must be pursuing their education in a North American educational institution in fall 2015. Applicants must either be of South Asian origin or demonstrate a strong interest in covering South Asia and/or the diaspora.

The judging is conducted by SAJA's professional members. Recipients are expected to give back to SAJA by volunteering at the annual convention or at other events during the year. They also must provide an update on their journalistic endeavors and achievements at the conclusion of the academic year.

Applicants with financial hardship may be given special consideration.


The 2015 application is due no later than 11:59pm ET on March 15, 2015. Winners will be notified in April.
SAJA High School Scholarship application:
SAJA Undergraduate Scholarship application:
SAJA Graduate Scholarship application:

Direct questions to
PLEASE NOTE: The SAJA Scholarships are made possible through generous contributions from individual and institutional donations. To donate to SAJA and help future scholarship classes, visit

The International Media Innovation Management Program

All over the world, media companies are looking for solutions in order to adapt to the constantly changing digital environment. Do you want to be able to steer these change and innovation processes? And qualify for that by pursuing relevant knowledge and by establishing an international network? Then just request your application form for our Master’s program in “International Media Innovation Management” here. Applicants are invited to send in their applications by March 31st, 2015.

The program is aimed at high-potentials from the media and creative industries – with different positions in their respective value chains: development, financing, content, production, distribution, regulation/legislation. During the two-year study, the students pool their forces together into a media innovation think tank. With lecturers from all over the world and seminars in Austria, Germany, Spain, the US and online, they work together in an international network. The students deal with real-life situations submitted by participating enterprises. Thus, companies participating in the program have a say in the structuring of the syllabus. “The students’ collaboration with academics, management trainers, journalists and business managers is crucial to the program’s sustainable success”, says Program Director Andy Kaltenbrunner, “innovation is to be established as the main currency of exchange in an international team.”

Lecturers are international experts in media, journalism, technology, and change management — some from academia, others within the industry — incl. Wolfgang Blau (The Guardian), Lucy Küng (Reuters Institute, Univ. St. Gallen), Bill Horn (The New York Times), Klaus Meier (Univ. Eichstätt-Ingolstadt), Romanus Otte (Die Welt), José García Avilés (Univ. Miguel Hernández) and many more. A list of lecturers can be found here.

The curriculum is divided into five one-week compulsory attendance blocks (taking place in Austria, Germany, Spain and the US), complemented with e-learning and language courses. Furthermore, the students will carry out projects in international teams. They are required to write and present a Master’s thesis at the end of the program.

For further information please visit our website or If you are interested in a business partnership please contact

Please request your application form here. Applicants are invited to send in their applications
by March 31st, 2015.

Friday, March 13, 2015

APPLY NOW: The Dag Hammarskjold Fellowship

Applications Invited for United
Nations Journalism Fellowships

The Dag Hammarskjöld Fund for Journalists is now accepting applications from professional journalists from developing countries for its 2015 fellowship program. The application deadline is March 16, 2015. 

The fellowships are available to radio, television, print and web journalists, age 25 to 35, from developing countries who are interested in coming to New York to report on international affairs during the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly.  The fellowships will begin in early September and extend to late November and will include the cost of travel and accommodations in New York, as well as a per diem allowance. 

The fellowship program is open to journalists who are native to one of the developing countries in Africa, Asia (including Pacific Island countries), Latin America and the Caribbean, and are currently working full-time for a bona fide media organization in a developing nation. Applicants must demonstrate an interest in and commitment to international affairs and to conveying a better understanding of the United Nations to their readers and audiences.  They must also have approval from their media organizations to spend up to two months in New York to report from the United Nations.

In an effort to rotate recipient countries, the Fund will not consider journalist applications for 2015 from nations selected in 2014:  Nigeria, Tunisia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.  Journalists from these countries may apply in 2016.

Four journalists are selected each year after a review of all applications. The journalists who are awarded fellowships are given the incomparable opportunity to observe international diplomatic deliberations at the United Nations, to make professional contacts that will serve them for years to come, to interact with seasoned journalists from around the world, and to gain a broader perspective and understanding of matters of global concern.  Many past fellows have risen to prominence in their professions and countries. The program is not intended to provide basic skills training to journalists, as all participants are media professionals.

 Click here to review fellowship eligibility criteria and documentation requirements as well as the fellowship application form.  Please note that we cannot accept email applications.

Questions about the program, eligibility and application process can be directed by email to

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Drones Can Make a Difference In Ghana’s Quest For Accelerated Development And Growth

Application of drones for development is a new area in Ghana, however it is rapidly evolving with significant potential to aid Ghana’s development agenda in the area of health, agriculture, security, road safety and traffic management; natural resource management, aerial photography, 3-D mapping; search and rescue, among others.

This was the outcome of the 2nd Technology Salon on the topic “How Can Drones Accelerate Ghana’s Development?” the 2 hour exciting thought provoking discussion covered, the business of drones, use cases of drones application in Ghana, risks and challenges, privacy issues, local research and development of drones, education and training; and policy options, regulations, licensing and laws that should guide the rapid uptake of drones in Ghana. Also referred to as Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), or a Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA), drones have over time, due to improvement in technology and lowering cost, seen a lot of applications in its development with key roles in aerial photography, monitoring elections, videos and real estate photography, humanitarian response, search and rescue, and mapping. Its application has also been seen in the area of Ecommerce order fulfillment/delivery, Territorial surveillance, Vessel traffic monitoring and Vessel Surveillance.

Hosted by Penplusbytes, the 2nd Technology salon was attended by 30 drone enthusiasts, Information technology experts, academia, Innovators, Journalists, developmental partners, donors, students, development experts, policy makers and other stakeholders.  Kwami Ahiabenu,II the President  of Penplusbytes and drones researcher led the discussion with David Kwamena Bolton, Technical Director of SoftTribe, Dr. Amos Kabo-bah, Energy and Environmental Engineer and Ag. Head, GEONETCast Centre, University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR) and Kwamena Hazel, a Drone flyer at Aeroshutter as thought leaders.

David Bolton posited that there is an endless list of opportunity that Ghana and the developing world can take advantage of the usefulness of Drones and its application. “Currently, we are at a preparatory stage of using drones to monitor oil and gas pipelines in Nigeria for instance. Ghana can make gains in securing her territorial waters by applying drone technology to monitor the activities of illegal fishing and to protect itself from the even more dangerous risk of pirate activities.” To him, it is all about research and whether or not there is the political will to back drones development and also regulations should be developed such that it does not stifle innovations on the application of drone technology for national development.

‘’Drones application have provided a way of providing relief in project areas that are very hard to reach, for instance development partners sometimes find it difficult in reach some portions of rural Ghana, and drone technology provides the opportunity for them to circumvent that challenges of reaching remote parts with medical supplies or relief items” Kafui Prebbie of Techaide, a participant at the event.

Excited about the discussions, Edward Ayo from the International Fertilizer Development Center believes Drones could very well help cut down the cost in research and field investigations. ‘’Drones can play useful roles in taking aerial pictures, mapping for irrigation purposes and also monitoring activities on large scale farms while minimizing the cost of walking the fields or hiring an airplane for same purpose,” he said.

There was a demonstration session which had on display different types of Drones including a locally manufactured type built by a Ghanaian. Participants got a first-hand experience and took practical lessons on Drones and how they work during the session when they took flight to take aerial pictures of Osu.

2nd Technology Salon “How Can Drones Accelerate Ghana’s Development?”  hosted by Penplusbytes has no doubt set into motion thought provoking elements on potential challenges and advantages of drone technology for accelerated development, while suggesting practical ways and strategies to ensure Ghana does not only use drones to accelerate its development but also becoming a global leader and innovator in this area.  In order to sustain the discussion, exchange information and knowledge, network and stimulate uptake of drones for development, the participants agree to form a community of practice - Drones for Development (Drone4D -

Penplusbytes is a leading organization in Africa innovating in 3 key areas: the use of technology to drive governance and accountability, new media and innovations as well as oil, gas and mining since 2001.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Thomson Reuters Foundation Election Reporting Training Programme 2015

Thomson Reuters Foundation is supporting a group of elections reporters from around the world to provide fair, balanced, accurate and timely coverage of their own countries' elections.

Media freedom and professional reporting are both essential requirements for a free and fair election. When the media plays its role as a balanced information source for the public and a tool for accountability, elections are more likely to be fair. But covering an election is complex, requires experience, and in some countries can be dangerous.

Thomson Reuters Foundation's 2015 Elections Reporting programme will support journalists to provide balanced and objective coverage of elections in countries with elections in 2015 or 2016. These are: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Haiti and Uganda.

The programme will have two main activities:
1.    A five-day elections reporting training course structured around the 2015 UK general election
The United Kingdom general election is being held on 7th May 2015. TRF will bring journalists from target countries to London to cover the election in real time under the expert guidance of experienced ex-Reuters journalists.

The training will focus on the role of media in democratic elections and the elements conducive to fair and free elections including: informing voters about the process, credibility of election coverage, amplifying people’s voice, balanced coverage of candidates, how to plan a comprehensive media campaign of the elections, and safety in the field.

However, minimal time will be spent in the classroom. The group will work as a real elections reporting team, first planning their coverage, then going out on the election trail in the days leading up to voting. On voting day, the team will cover the polling stations, then move back to TRF HQ to report as the results come in. On the day after the election the journalists will cover the final result, and the follow-up story.

All participants are expected to file at least two stories on the elections to their media outlets during the course.
Training also will cover writing skills, sources, ethics and legal dangers.
2.    Editorial support for each journalist ahead of them beginning their own elections coverage.
After the London course, TRF will provide participating journalists with remote support from a TRF expert when they are covering their own elections. This could come in the form of reviewing elections coverage plan, editorial support on a feature story or support with story pitches for the elections follow-up coverage.
Start date: May 04, 2015
End date: May 08, 2015
Location: London, UK – England and Wales
Application deadline: Mar 23, 2015
Applicants must be full-time text (online or print) or radio journalists, or regular contributors to text or radio media and have a minimum of three years of experience.

Journalists must be on the elections reporting team at their media outlets for the upcoming elections in their countries and must come from the following countries: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Haiti and Uganda.

Applicants must be able to demonstrate a commitment to a career in journalism in their country, with a good level in spoken and written English.
Thomson Reuters Foundation offers:

Full bursaries for journalists from the developing world/countries in political transition working for organisations with no resources for training. Bursaries would include air travel expenses (economy class), accommodation and a modest living allowance. This arrangement is subject to variation.

Part-funded bursaries are available for journalists from the developing world/countries in political transition who work for organisations that have limited resources for training, in this instance Thomson Reuters Foundation waives the tuition cost and the participant will be expected to cover travel and accommodation costs. In exceptional circumstances journalists from the developed world will be considered for part-funded bursaries.

Thomson Reuters Foundation also offers training for journalists from any region from an organisation that has the resources to fully cover the following costs of the programme: tuition fees: £200 per day (£1000 for a 5-day London course), travel and accommodation costs and living expenses.Thomson Reuters Foundation would provide a list of hotels for participants who require accommodation in London. If you have any questions please email:
-    A biography of up to 250 words outlining your career
-    Two recent examples of your published work, preferably relevant to the course for which you are applying, with a brief summary in English (if necessary).
-    A statement of between 250 and 500 words describing any factors affecting your work as a journalist. Explain how you hope to benefit from the course for which you are applying.
-    A letter from your editor that demonstrates their permission for you to attend this course and a willingness to publish the two stories that you file.