OSI Announces Katrina Media Fellowships

The Open Society Institute, a part of the Soros Foundations Network, has announced a one-time fellowship competition, "In response to the critical issues of poverty, racism, and government neglect that were laid bare by Hurricane Katrina." The Katrina Media Fellowships will support photographers, documentary film and video makers, and print and radio journalists who "generate and improve media coverage of issues exposed by Katrina."

In their statement announcing the fellowships the OSI said, "Katrina’s aftermath placed in sharp relief persistent problems of poverty, racism and government neglect plaguing the United States. Just five months after the destruction of New Orleans and other parts of the Gulf Region, the public’s attention has, for the most part, shifted elsewhere. By supporting in-depth journalism and media projects, OSI aims to stimulate and sustain a national conversation on these issues."

Kate Black, a program officer for the Open Society Institute's U.S. Justice Fund, said in the announcement that the OSI expects to award between 12 to 15 fellowships in mid-May 2006, and that the grants will be between $15,000 and $35,000 to carry out projects in photography, print, radio, and documentary film and video production. The award amount will include a stipend and will cover project expenses. The grants will vary in size depending on the project's duration, its medium, and associated costs.

The fellowship term is for one year and it begins on June 15, 2006. OSI will give special consideration to applicants who have been displaced from, or who are residents of, the Gulf Region. The application deadline is 5 p.m. on Friday, March 31, 2006.

Black said that applicants are expected to propose projects that "deepen the public's understanding of race and class inequalities in the Gulf Region that were brought to light in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina." Also, applicants can propose projects that address the government's response to post-Katrina problems, the use or misuse of public funds, the role of private contractors, the effectiveness of the clean-up and rebuilding efforts, and lessons learned in the event of future natural disasters.

George Soros is founder and chairman of the OSI and the Soros Foundations Network. He is also the chairman of Soros Fund Management LLC. OSI is a private operating and grantmaking foundation that aims to shape public policy to promote democratic governance, human rights, and economic, legal, and social reform. OSI implements a range of initiatives to support the rule of law, education, public health, and independent media, and works to build alliances across borders and continents on issues such as combating corruption and rights abuses.

Complete guidelines and an application form for the Katrina Media Fellowships that can be downloaded as an Acrobat .PDF file are online at the Open Society Institute's section of the Sorors Foundations Network Web site here.