Telling Important Stories: The Work of the Lieutenant Governor’s BC Journalism Fellow

In the spirit of supporting a healthy democracy with a thriving journalistic community, the Lieutenant Governor’s BC Journalism Fellowship encourages the development and support of local journalists in British Columbia. The Fellowship was launched in 2022 as part of celebrations in honour of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, with support from the Government House Foundation, and in partnership with the Jack Webster Foundation, an organization that fosters and celebrates excellence in journalism to protect the public interest for British Columbians.

The first Lieutenant Governor’s Journalism Fellow is Francesca Fionda, an experienced and award-winning investigative and data journalist, journalism instructor and adjunct professor. Francesca has devoted the support provided by the Fellowship to create a multi-part series, published in The Tyee, on climate disaster refugees in British Columbia.

Bracing for Disasters

Bracing for Disasters explores the experiences of people forced to flee in the face of climate disasters, The monetary support provided by the Lieutenant Governor’s BC Journalism Fellowship allowed a team led by Francesca to “dive deep into a range of interlinked questions”. Throughout this series, Francesca and team will explore what can happen and how others have survived. The Tyee, in partnership with the Climate Disaster Project, “interviewed over a dozen British Columbians displaced by extreme weather related calamities, frontline workers and experts, and analyzed data to understand the scale of the threat in this province and whether its government is up to the task.”

The first article in the series can be read here, placing the reader in the shoes of a British Columbian waking up to a climate disaster unfolding around them. Supplementary reporting gives a summary of the gaps in disaster evacuation support, and an overview of how Francesca and team used open data to calculate “what populations were being most evacuated in B.C. due to disasters and how long, on average, people had to wait before coming home to whatever awaited them.”

The Lieutenant Governor’s BC Fellowship

It is often the dream of many journalists to have the time and other resources to produce in-depth coverage of important issues. However, budget cutbacks have become a reality for most newsrooms and deep-dive journalism requires significant resources. The Lieutenant Governor’s BC Journalism Fellowship provides funding to journalists so they can invest the time and other resources in producing excellent in-depth coverage of important topics. The objective is to encourage and enable journalists to go above and beyond their typical level of coverage so that many of the crucial challenges we face today are no longer under-reported and receive deep, complex storytelling to better inform the citizens of British Columbia.

Each year, beginning in 2022, for three years, journalists from various stages of their careers (emerging or experienced) will receive a monetary award to research, produce and publish/broadcast their project supported by a committed publishing/broadcast partner. The final product(s) created by fellows may include written content for print and digital, or multimedia such as video or podcasts.

Applications for the 2023 Fellowship will open on April 13, 2023. More information can be found here, and applications can be found on the Jack Webster Foundation website