The Scoop Foundation is proud to announce the publication of the first works resulting from our 2017 Kaikoura Earthquake Investigative Journalism Grant round. The funded journalists in this round were Veronika Meduna and Charlotte Graham. Both have utilised the funds granted to conduct extensive research and investigation over the year and both have produced a series of top quality investigative journalism pieces.
The First story released on Thursday 14 December was Veronika’s investigation into the Kaikoura Rebuild available here. Veronika’s second story will explore how this quake, and the cascade of subsequent fault ruptures, is causing a rethink about hazard models and building codes. A further piece with a more scientific focus will be published by Deutsche Welle - Germany's esteemed public international broadcaster.
Today (Monday 18th) Charlotte Graham's first earthquake story ‘Ready or not’ has been published in New Zealand Geographic's January/February 2018 print edition, and free online here at nzgeo.com. This work assesses disaster resilience in some of New Zealand's most vulnerable communities, and whether a national change in philosophy around Civil Defence preparedness will prove sufficient to stop people who are already marginalised falling through the gaps in the event of a natural disaster.
Charlotte has also published a second story expanding on this investigation featuring an audio interview today on Scoop.co.nz here. This piece deals with the shift in philosophy around Civil Defence in New Zealand and internationally from a top-down, command and control model to one centred on encouraging communities to build resilience. Throughout this week and in January, Scoop will be publishing exclusive multimedia content that furthers this investigation dealing with the following issues: How do New Zealand's plans for protecting the vulnerable in the event of a disaster stack up in a global context? And what can the government do to support marginalised communities - and the organisations and people working with those communities - to help them stay safe in a disaster?
Significance of this grant for the journalists
Both investigations draw on several months of interviews and research - including extensive Official Information Act requests. Charlotte, for example made OIA requests to every council in New Zealand, which helped her draw a national picture of disaster readiness for vulnerable people. She said the Scoop grant had proved invaluable in this context:
"One of the biggest challenges for freelance journalists in New Zealand is that the funding pool isn't large, and the payment for stories often doesn't cover the number of hours it takes to research a major story well. This puts freelance journalists in a position where they have to choose between stories that are easy to research and write, or investigating big stories voluntarily on their own time, in the hope of getting paid once they finish. This grant was a rare opportunity to be paid for the legwork of freelance journalism while I was actually doing it, and when a stronger angle presented itself than the one I had initially chosen to research, to essentially start again from scratch in chasing it.”
a similar vein, Veronika Meduna has stated:
“The grant has enabled me to work on two longform features that explore different aspects of the impact of the Kaikoura earthquake. For the first piece, I was able to travel to Kaikoura and communities north and south of the town and to spend time with road construction crews working on the northern corridor of State Highway 1 to see firsthand the challenges they face in reconnecting the transport link. for the second piece, I have been able to spend time in the field with geologists and engineers. In both cases, I have also been able to dedicate more time to research, far beyond what would be possible in a newsroom environment, and to pursue information only available through Official Information Act requests.”
Open Publishing Approach
The Scoop Foundation grants also offered a flexible approach to copyright, in line with our belief in the free flow of information and our goals of ensuring maximum coverage of such important works of public interest journalism. This agreement with the grantees allowed for them to pursue co-publication arrangements with other publishers.
Charlotte Graham has outlined how this permissive arrangement enabled her to do the work required and to form partnerships with another publisher to produce works of high quality:
"This led to the chance to publish with New Zealand Geographic, who funded some extra travel on the story and provided invaluable editing assistance, which was a great learning experience. Spending this long working up a 5,000 word story is not something I could normally afford to do as a freelancer, and I am incredibly grateful to Scoop for enabling it. I hope in future such funding models for freelance journalists - in which reporters are paid for the process of researching stories - become much more common. I know many dogged and talented freelance reporters who would benefit from such funding.
Support more Scoop Foundation Investigations
If you wish to see more high-quality public interest investigative journalism of this nature in 2018, we invite you to consider supporting the work of the Scoop Foundation.
We have teamed up with local journalism crowdfunding platform PressPatron to make supporting us easier. You can donate on a one-off or recurring basis by credit card via our PressPatron page.
Thankyou and a happy New Year from the Scoop Foundation team.