Freelance Investigative Reporters and Editors welcomes all investigative topics, but is giving special consideration to COVID-19 investigations, as long as the crisis continues.
In addition to its reporting services, FIRE provides freelancers with standard grants of up to $12,500, to complete an investigation; and Proposal Grants of up to $2,500, to develop an initial story pitch.
Criteria for Selection
A number of organizations already support feature stories and projects, but FIRE strictly supports investigative reporting. We do not accept or fund proposals for non-investigative features. By definition, investigative reporting uncovers information in the public interest, usually information that someone is trying to hide.
The following three questions should help you determine whether your proposal is investigative:
- Are you doing original reporting, using public records or difficult-to-obtain sources?
- Has your reporting turned up anything that might suggest potential damage to the public good in ways that hadn’t been known or understood before?
- Have you found evidence that, if sufficiently corroborated, would reveal systemic injustice or damage to the public good—or corruption, deceit, or abuse by someone in power or a position of authority, who would not want your story disclosed publicly?
If you can answer yes to all these questions, your reporting proposal is probably investigative—and thus eligible for FIRE support.
Freelance Investigative Reporters
FIRE exclusively serves freelance investigative journalists—those who are not formally or materially attached to any newsroom, news site, or outlet. If you are affiliated with an outlet, you are eligible for FIRE services only if the story you are working on will be placed outside your affiliated outlet.
As a freelance investigative reporter:
- You can be a print reporter, photojournalist, radio or TV producer, videographer, or filmmaker (FIRE does not support book-only projects).
- You can reside or work either in the United States or outside the United States, regardless of citizenship.
- You can have proven experience in investigative reporting, or show promise in the field. Those new to investigative reporting may apply to the FIRE Editorial Consultancy, outlined below.
FIRE supports reporting for English-language outlets only.
If your story is international in scope, it’s helpful to have a U.S. angle.
Specific criteria for projects
Based on the above guidelines, we support work that is fair, meticulous, resourceful, comprehensive, innovative, and effectively rendered for maximum impact. We also strive to support a diverse mix of journalistic projects by looking at multiple criteria, from medium to subject matter.
Additional criteria: story viability
We favor stories that we think have a strong chance to succeed with FIRE’s help. In deciding on grants (and any accompanying Virtual Newsroom services), we consider the extent to which an applicant can viably finance a project’s reporting expenses elsewhere, by grants, publication fees, or from other sources. You don’t need to secure funding for reporting expenses before you apply, but ultimately you must have a plan for doing so.
While FIRE doesn’t require interest or an expressed commitment from an outlet beforehand, applicants need to have a letter of commitment from an outlet in order to receive a Virtual Newsroom award of services. The Editorial Consultancy does not require such a commitment.
To apply, email FIRE a story inquiry by following the directions available here.