Grant expands journalism opportunities

SIT partner Round Earth Media wins prestigious MacArthur grant

Mary StuckyThe John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has named SIT Study Abroad partner Round Earth Media as one of 12 journalism nonprofits to receive major unrestricted operating support. Round Earth Media partners with SIT Study Abroad on groundbreaking journalism programs in Morocco and the Balkans. These programs are Field Studies in Journalism and New Media and Peace and Conflict Studies in the Balkans. 

Round Earth Media will receive $500,000 from the MacArthur Foundation over five years. The grant will enable “even more entrepreneurial work that makes available factual reporting, authentic stories, and diverse voices to help inform a robust public civic dialogue,” MacArthur President Julia Stasch said May 18, the date the awards were announced.

Round Earth Media Founder and Executive Director Mary Stucky said the grant will allow the award-winning news organization to increase its organizational capacity to develop a new generation of global correspondents covering issues and places that are ignored at a time when international reporting is shrinking. Mary serves as senior journalism advisor at SIT Study Abroad.

“MacArthur’s generous grant of unrestricted operating support is a major affirmation of the way in which we reach audiences around the world with compelling and important stories,” Mary said. “We do this while mentoring, training, and sustaining the next generation of global correspondents — to be sure there is one.”

SIT Study Abroad students work with Round Earth Media journalists and their in-country journalism student partners to produce print, video, audio, photography, and/or multimedia news stories, many of which are carried by major US and international media outlets.

“We have been immensely impressed with the work of Mary Stucky and Round Earth Media in introducing journalism to our offerings in Morocco and the Balkans,” said SIT Study Abroad Vice Provost M. Priscilla Stone. “Students from our Morocco program have published their stories, co-written with Moroccan journalism students, in such prestigious outlets as Newsweek, Al Jazeera, and USA Today. The mentorship of Mary and her talented group of editors and foreign correspondents is a truly unique opportunity for professional growth and experience.”

SIT is developing a new journalism opportunity in South Africa, where an extremely lively press will present many new opportunities for research and writing, she added.

Round Earth Media reaches global audiences with news and information on complex and under-reported subjects using a unique bi-national reporting method that pairs two early career reporters, one from the United States and the other from the country where the story happens. Mentored by veteran Round Earth Media editors, these journalists work together to publish or broadcast the same under-reported story in at least two countries and languages simultaneously — in both a major media outlet in the United States and one in the country where the story is taking place. 

In 2014, Round Earth Media received a Peabody Award, the highest award in broadcast journalism, for explanatory reporting from Honduras, which, according to the Peabody committee, gave “the economic context and the personal stories behind an international human rights crisis.” 

“Unrestricted funding is especially vital to helping well-led nonprofit news organizations experiment and innovate, and enables journalists and editors the independence to pursue important stories that do not make commercial sense, particularly in the costly realms of investigative and international reporting,” said Kathy Im, MacArthur’s director of journalism and media. 

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