Business journalist Joseph O’Connor has been funded by the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to travel to report on development issues on three occasions. Here, he outlines his experience of the Fund and offers some tips to prospective applicants.
How did you first hear about the Fund?
I first heard about the Fund in its very early days. It was through a friend of mine who works in community radio. It was something I was interested in from the start so I did a bit of research. It was a few years later when I had some media experience behind me that I first applied for it.
What did your first project entail?
My first project was based on a butterfly farming project in Tanzania. It was something I just stumbled across online and thought it was a great story. It was a project set up by an American guy. He did a feasibility study on introducing butterfly farming to a region in Tanzania, helping local farmers to earn extra income. There are a lot of rare and exotic species of butterfly in that region so I thought it was a great story. I actually applied [to the Fund for funding] for it the first time and failed but then I tweaked the story a little bit, reapplied and was successful. So I suppose that would be tip to people – don’t give up. I actually got on to the Fund and asked if there was any way I could improve the story as I still really liked the idea. They gave me some feedback. I worked on that, reapplied a year later and was successful.
What advice would you give to journalists who are thinking of applying to the Fund?
I’d say do a bit of research. Chose a region or country that you are interested in and from there look for a story – something unique, a human interest story about ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
Find out more about Joseph’s project ‘The Butterfly Effect’ here.