‘Disaster Land Grabs’ Worldwide and in British Columbia

Announcing the Tiny Foundation Fellows for Investigative Journalism

Composite Image of all fellows
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The Global Reporting Centre and the Citizens are pleased to announce the seven recipients of The Tiny Foundation Fellowships for Investigative Journalism.

The fellows include both up-and-coming and experienced journalists, who will receive up to $20,000 to dive into the role of technology in abuses of power. Their projects will focus on issues related to data privacy, surveillance technology, and the erosion of democratic accountability. Editors from the GRC and the Citizens will provide mentorship in reporting, writing, and multimedia.

“Fellowships like this one are hugely important for independent investigative journalists, especially at a time when the media industry is in flux. It would be tough to do the kind of reporting that [we] do without this support,” said Hilary Beaumont, one of the recipients of the fellowship.

The Tiny Foundation Fellowship for Investigative Journalism is a unique collaboration from three global organizations committed to supporting the next generation of independent journalists. The fellowships are co-administered by the Citizens (UK) and the Global Reporting Centre (Canada), with funding from The Tiny Foundation (Canada).

“The past decade has seen some of the best investigative reporting come from independent journalists with philanthropic support,” said GRC founder Peter Klein.

“We can’t wait to get started on these investigations with this brilliant group of journalists,” added Clara Maguire, Executive Director of the Citizens. “The questions they are asking are global in nature and of the utmost public interest, seeking to shine a light on data abuse and the impact of disinformation on democracy.”

Below is a list of the Fellows:


Jennifer Ugwa and Amos Abba

Jennifer Ugwa is an independent investigative journalist and storyteller based in Abuja, Nigeria

Amos Abba is in Abuja, Nigeria and works as an investigative journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) – an online media platform based in Abuja with specific emphasis on holding the powerful to account.

Ugwa and Abba are co-reporting an investigation into digital loan sharks in Nigeria, who use cyberbullying as a debt collection strategy, and their efforts to avoid paying taxes


Astha Rajvanshi

Astha Rajvanshi is an independent journalist based in Mumbai, India. Her writing has appeared in TIME, WIRED, National Geographic, Slate, BBC, and The New York Times, among other outlets. She recently completed a two-year fellowship at the Institute of Current World Affairs, and previously she worked at NYT Magazine and Reuters in New York. She has received reporting awards and fellowships from New York University, the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, the Global Migration Project, and the Australia-Korea Foundation. A graduate of Columbia Journalism School’s investigative reporting program, she was born in New Delhi and grew up in Sydney, Australia.

Rajvanshi’s project will focus on internet censorship in India.


Caitlin Thompson

Caitlin Thompson is a reporter at Coda Story. As the author of Coda’s Authoritarian Tech newsletter and the host and lead producer of the weekly podcast Coda Currents, she has covered everything from digital authoritarianism to disinformation. As part of the team at KAZU, NPR for California’s Monterey Bay Area, she won a National Edward R. Murrow Award for coverage of historic wildfires. She has reported on algorithms that determine if a person experiencing homelessness in San Francisco qualifies for supportive housing, predictive policing in Florida, and Northern Ireland’s struggle to deal with the legacy of the Troubles.

Thompson will be focusing on child welfare algorithms to identify children who are at high risk for death or serious injury as a result of abuse or neglect.


Rowan Moore Gerety

Rowan Moore Gerety is a reporter and audio producer based in Phoenix, Arizona. He has written for The New York Times, The Atlantic, Harper’s, Esquire, and WIRED, among others, and is the author of Go Tell the Crocodiles: Chasing Prosperity in Mozambique. He has produced podcasts and radio documentaries for outlets including NPR, Reveal, Latino USA, and the LA Times. He has received SPJ and Edward R. Murrow awards for investigative reporting, and his work for the podcast 70 Million was nominated for a Peabody award. He has been a fellow with the US Fulbright Program and the International Reporting Project (IRP), and speaks French, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, and Spanish.

Gerety will focus on the proliferation and use of new surveillance technology among small and rural law enforcement agencies.


Hilary Beaumont and Martha Troian

Hilary Beaumont is a freelance investigative journalist who has reported from the US, Canada and Mexico, covering the intersection of Indigenous rights, environment, immigration and climate change. She has previously investigated cases of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG), as well as data privacy issues, and has earned awards for her investigative reporting, including for a collaborative investigation with Martha Troian on Canada’s Indigenous water crisis. She regularly contributes to The Guardian, Al Jazeera, The Narwhal, and other publications

Martha Troian is an Indigenous investigative freelance journalist and producer who has contributed to media outlets across North America. She is known for her investigations into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, environmental and human rights issues, Canadian Indian residential schools, and Indigenous politics. Martha has been involved with small to large-scale collaborative projects, and regularly works in investigative journalism, podcasting, data journalism, radio, magazine, and online storytelling. She is originally from Lac Seul First Nation, with ties to Wabauskang First Nation in northern Ontario. Martha is a mother to a young boy and lives between Manitoba and Ontario, Canada. 

Troian and Beaumont will look into the private ownership of DNA databases and how their use in MMIWG cases by law enforcement raises new questions about consent and sovereignty for Indigenous people. This investigation will explore what these new techniques mean for family members of these women and girls, and the risks and merits of sharing their DNA with genetic genealogy databases.


Founded in 2016, the Global Reporting Centre is a non-profit organization based out of  the University of British Columbia. The GRC brings together journalists, scholars, and media partners to investigate and report on complex global issues. It focuses on challenging and innovating how journalism is practiced around the world.

The Citizens use impact journalism to hold big tech and government to account. It is a UK-based non-profit organization dedicated to reporting about data rights, platform power, dark money, and erosion of democratic accountability. 

The Tiny Foundation is a Canadian organization dedicated to empowering great minds to do good. The foundation facilitates change by providing funding to individuals and groups pushing the world forward in a positive way.

To fight illegal fishing in the Galapagos, Ecuador turns to new technology

A naval captain wearing a KN95 mask with ships in the background
Ecuadorian naval Capt. Isiais Bodero Mala is on the frontlines of protecting the Galapagos marine reserve, home to some of the world's most unique biodiversity, from illegal fishing. The South American nation's security forces are working with Canadian technology firms to fight back against environmental crimes. (Philippe Le Billon/CBC News)
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Read the story here.

SPECIAL LECTURE: COOPERATION IN OUTER SPACE

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This event has passed.

Johann-Dietrich Wörner

You are invited to the first annual John S. MacDonald Outer Space Lecture. Admission is free. The speaker will be Johann-Dietrich Wörner, President of Germany’s Academy of Science and Engineering, and former Director-General of the European Space Agency. He will be speaking on the science-engineering-policy interface and new challenges for international cooperation in outer space.

You can find more information about this talk at https://bit.ly/3kEhJN3, and on the Outer Space Institute website at http://outerspaceinstitute.ca/.

Due to COVID-19, this year’s lecture will be limited to 200 in-person guests. In-person guests will be required to wear masks in all in-door campus spaces.

Because space is limited, your RSVP is strongly encouraged to reserve a seat. Walk-ins are welcome provided space is available.

A family arrives in Przemyśl after travelling from Medyka, the Polish border town. Przemyśl, Poland, March 4, 2022.
A family arrives in Przemyśl after travelling from Medyka, the Polish border town. Przemyśl, Poland, March 4, 2022.

On the border between Poland and Ukraine

Written By Ali Arkady | Photos by Ali Arkady / VII Photo

This is not the first time I’ve witnessed war. For more than thirty years, it was part of my life in Iraq. As a photojournalist, I have documented war and those most harmed by it. 

In 2014, the Islamic State swept through parts of the country, brutally attacking members of the Yazidi community, a minority group in Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of Yazidis fled their cities and villages, heading to Syria and Turkey. Some walked on foot for more than a week to the safety of the northern mountains of Iraq. It was in this area where I witnessed their journey. As a fellow Iraqi, I felt their pain. While my camera could not capture everything, the photos I took provided a glimpse into the tragedy that had befallen my country

Today, five years after I fled Iraq to the safety of Europe, I find myself covering another wave of people on the move in search of safety. On February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine — attacking everything from government buildings to hospitals and schools, killing hundreds of civilians and leaving thousands wounded. As a result, more than 3.2 million Ukrainians have fled to neighboring countries in what the UN has described as the “fastest-growing refugee crisis in Europe since the Second World War.”

I went to the Polish border with Ukraine, where a majority of the refugees have fled – Poland currently hosts over 2 million Ukrainian refugees. The busiest border crossing between Poland and Ukraine is at Medyka, which is the closest Polish city to the Ukrainian city of Lviv. Most of the refugees I meet here are women, children, and older men. With temperatures dropping down to -12 degrees Celsius at night, volunteers rush to provide food, clothing and shelter as refugees wait outside in a long line for a bus to take them from Medyka to Przemyśl, a town about 13km away. 

There are several places in the camp, where volunteers bring food prepared in local kitchens. Many people in the town contribute to preparing meals and hosting refugee families. Volunteers also come from all over Europe to offer their help to the people crossing the border.

Rajpal Singh Wilkhu, a volunteer from Khalsa Aid, makes tea for Ukrainian refugees at the Medyka border crossing.

Being here, my memories begin to return. Scenes from the past replay in my head. Except I’m not in Iraq anymore. War chases me like a shadow that never leaves. 

Even though I speak no Ukrainian, I have no problem communicating with people. Most of them are smiling, especially the women and children. While I see the sadness in their eyes, I also see optimism and strength. Even though thousands of people are around, I don’t hear many voices. It feels very calm.  

The only gift I can offer is my photographs and videos. I ask people if they want me to send them their pictures. Some of them say yes, while others do not want these memories. I talk to people to get to know them. I say that I am with you. I was a refugee like you, so do not be sad. Your sadness is my sadness, and your war is my war.


With generous funding and support from the Open Society Foundations.

An anti-lockdown protest in London, UK
An anti-lockdown protest in London, UK, on April 24, 2021. (Jessica Girvan / Alamy Stock Photo)

Shooting the messenger

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The Global Reporting Centre and the Committee to Protect Journalists have launched a global survey to investigate the effects of disinformation and harassment targeting journalists.

If you’re a working journalist over 18 years of age, we want to hear from you. The anonymous, secure survey is available in English, French, Hindi, Portuguese and Spanish. (You can share your email address with us once the survey is complete, but your survey answers will remain anonymous.)

A study of disinformation and harassment targeting journalists

Journalists around the world face targeted efforts to undermine their reputations. These “credibility attacks” can take the form of false allegations, insults about their character or professionalism, or disparaging comments about their gender, race or ethnicity. They often take place online, and in some cases involve disinformation tactics such as doctored images or accusations spread by people using fake identities. 

Some campaigns to discredit journalists have received public attention – from Maria Ressa in the Philippines to Ronan Farrow in the US to Patricia Campos Mello in Brazil. 

But beyond these high-profile cases, how common are efforts to discredit journalists? What techniques are used? What impact do they have on journalists? How does this problem vary for journalists in different countries, or of different gender, race, ethnicity or professional role?

We will publish our findings and share them with journalists, news outlets, and organizations that support journalists, to help them understand and address this issue. 

Please see below for more details on the project.

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Frequently asked questions

Who is conducting this survey?

The survey is being conducted by researchers from the Global Reporting Centre at the University of British Columbia and The Disinformation Project at Simon Fraser University, working in collaboration with the Committee to Protect Journalists.The survey is part of a study called “Shooting the Messenger: Credibility Attacks Against Journalists.” The Principal Investigator is Professor Peter Klein (contact details below), and the lead researcher is postdoctoral fellow Chris Tenove.

Who do I contact if I have questions or concerns about the survey?

If you have questions or concerns please contact survey@globalreportingcentre.org or Professor Peter Klein, School of Journalism, Writing & Media at University of British Columbia. 

Alternately, if you have any concerns about your rights as a research participant and/or your experiences while participating in this study, you may contact the Research Participant Complaint Line in the UBC Office of Research Ethics at 604-822-8598 or if long distance e-mail RSIL@ors.ubc.ca or call toll free 1-877-822-8598.

This project was approved by the University of British Columbia’s Behavioral Research Ethics Board (project ID # H21-00414).

Who funds this study?

This research is being conducted with support from PEN Canada and from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

What kinds of questions does the survey ask?

The survey asks whether and how often you have faced various types of harassment or attacks on your credibility, and the impact these experiences have on you personally and professionally. It asks you to assess anti-press sentiment in your country or region. The survey also requests some basic details about you (e.g. your gender) and your work as a journalist (e.g. how long you have worked as a journalist) – but no identifying details.

Will participants’ responses and identity be confidential?

All your survey responses will be anonymous. You can complete it without providing your name or any identifying details. We will not store any information about the device or IP address you are using to complete the survey.

After you have completed all survey questions, you will be given an option to provide your email address and the country you report on. You may voluntarily add those details or you may decline. Even if you share your email address, it will not be linked to your responses to the full survey, which will remain anonymous.

Qualtrics is being used to collect the survey data; its servers are located in Canada.

How will the survey results be used?

We will analyze survey responses to compare the forms, extent, and impacts of credibility attacks and harassment as they are experienced in different countries or regions, or by journalists with different roles or identities. We will only publicize aggregate results, and not details that would reveal the identity of individual respondents.

These results will be published as academic articles and as a public report by the Global Reporting Centre and the Committee to Protect Journalists. 

Where can journalists go for resources to address credibility attacks and harassment?

In the fight against Russia, Ukrainian citizens turn to an old recipe

Photo by Tyler Hicks/The New York Times/Redux
Published

This article was produced in partnership with Retro Report, and first appeared in Retro Report’s free weekly newsletter.

By Irem Ozturan

“Make Molotov cocktails, neutralize the occupier!” the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense tweeted, urging citizens to fight what has become the largest military assault in Europe since World War II. Ukraine’s National Guard shared instructions on social media last week for making the bomb, which has roots in the 1930s and 40s.

Improvised bombs like Molotov cocktails, relatively easy and cheap to produce, are a staple of groups short on traditional military equipment, like rioters, urban guerillas, terrorists and football hooligans. But they were developed as tools of large-scale war, used to combat foreign invaders.

The name comes from the Winter War, when Soviet forces invaded Finland and bombed Helsinki, the nation’s capital in 1939. Facing international criticism, Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov falsely claimed the attack was meant as humanitarian aid for their starving neighbors. That inspired Finns, who were not starving, to sarcastically dub Soviet cluster bombs “Molotov’s bread baskets.”

Soon Finns began building bombs from gasoline-filled glass bottles with a stick as a fuse, calling them “Molotov cocktails,” according to historian William R. Trotter. The weapons proved effective even against Soviet tanks.

Similar handmade bombs go back at least as far as Spain’s Civil War (1936-1939). Spanish Nationalist troops used them against Soviet tanks supporting the Spanish Republicans; later, both sides deployed them.

In 1939 in the Battle of Khalkhin Gol, a series of Soviet-Japanese border conflicts, more than 100 Soviet tanks or armored cars were destroyed by similar weapons. In the early 1940s, improvised bombs were stockpiled in Britain to be used against German tanks in case of a Nazi invasion.

Last week, as Russian troops advanced on Kyiv and other cities, Ukrainians used resources in innovative ways to build and maintain ammunition. Civilians turned a public park in Dnipro, in central Ukraine, into an open-air Molotov cocktail factory. Military instructors taught civilians how to use the weapons in an abandoned factory in Kyiv. Employees at the Pravda Brewery in Lyiv halted beer production and manufactured makeshift bombs instead. In restaurants, according to a New York Times report, bottled water is being served exclusively in plastic bottles. The glass ones are being used to make Molotov cocktails.

Turning Points wins Silver Anthem Award

Houses on a snowy hill at sunset. Ndilǫ, a Dene community near Yellowknife, NWT, Canada.
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The GRC is pleased to announce that the Turning Points project, a documentary short series that explores alcohol use, addiction, resilience and healing in Yellowknife, has been awarded a Silver Medal at the inaugural Anthem Awards. The project was selected in the Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion – Partnership or Collaboration category.

This was not a typical journalism project. Storytellers were directly involved at every stage of the production process. They shared the cultural, social, geographic and historical factors that both drew them into addiction and allowed them to map out routes to recovery.

The series debuted in February 2020 at a screening in Yellowknife, where friends, families and community members piled into a packed venue to watch the documentaries and hear directly from the storytellers. It was then aired in partnership with PBS NewsHour.

Photo by Ali Arkady
© Ali Arkady / VII Photo

The photos that forced one of Iraq’s best photojournalists into exile

See the photo essay in English or Arabic.

In 2016, Iraqi photojournalist Ali Arkady embedded with the country’s special forces – an elite group of both Sunnis & Shiites who were battling ISIS in the name of a unified Iraq – to document the effort. When they began torturing and murdering innocent civilians, Arkady reached for the only tool he had: his camera, taking over 400 photos and videos. Some of them exposed the brutal war crimes committed by Western-backed coalition forces.

His initial work published by the Toronto Star and ABC News earned him the prestigious Bayeux Prize for War Correspondents in 2017 and the Free Press Unlimited Most Resilient Journalist Award in 2019. But it came at a price – facing death threats, Ali had to flee Iraq with his family, seeking refuge in Europe. 

Since 2018, Ali has been the Global Journalist in Residence at the GRC, where he has provided guidance, support and a unique perspective into the ethics of war reporting. The residency has also allowed him the time and support needed to revisit his work. His latest photojournalism project, Strappado, co-produced by the GRC and VII Agency, looks back on his experience a few years removed.

Bearing witness to war crimes

A conversation with photojournalist Ali Arkady

This event took place January 25th, 2022, from 12:00-1:30pm PST. See below for the recording.

About the event

When Iraqi photojournalist Ali Arkady embedded with an elite military unit as they battled ISIS, he thought he was going to document heroics. Instead he witnessed and photographed some of the most brutal instances of torture and abuse in modern Iraqi history. 

What followed was an award-winning series in media organizations around the world — as well as death threats that forced him to flee his home country for good. Arkady was also the target of a disinformation campaign aimed at destroying his credibility and his career.

Join the GRC’s Executive Editor Andrea Crossan in a conversation about the ethics, risks and costs of bearing witness to war crimes.

About Ali Arkady: Ali Arkady is an Iraqi photographer, filmmaker, and artist currently living in Europe. Arkady documented Iraqi conflicts for over 18 years, focusing on displacement of civilians, the Yazidi community, and the violence perpetrated by the Islamic State. In 2017, Arkady and his family fled to Europe after he photographed Iraqi forces committing war crimes. The publication of these photos pressured the Iraqi government to acknowledge the army’s crimes, and earned him the Bayeux Prize for War Correspondents in 2017, and the Free Press Unlimited Most Resilient Journalist Award in 2019. Since leaving Iraq, Arkady has trained young photographers at the UNHCR and the VII Academy. He is currently working on an upcoming publication and multimedia website in partnership with the Global Reporting Centre and VII Photo Agency.

About Andrea Crossan: Andrea Crossan is the Executive Editor of the Global Reporting Centre. She has worked as a journalist in the US, UK and Canada and has reported from conflict and post-conflict zones around the world.

This talk is co-sponsored by the Global Reporting Centre and the W. Maurice Young Centre for Applied Ethics. It will take place on January 25th, 2022, from 12:00-1:30pm, on Zoom. Register here. A Zoom link will be sent on January 24th.

‘A no holds-barred Elder’

Donald Prince
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Donald Prince tells his story as part of Turning Points, a GRC series airing weekends on PBS NewsHour that explores alcohol use, addiction, resilience and healing in the Canadian North. To view the story visit the PBS NewsHour website.

Reindeer school upholds Norway Indigenous traditions

A student in a snowsuit sitting on a sled

To listen to this episode, click here.

The new steel? Hope and fear as a new plastics factory rises in Appalachia

A plastics plant
Photo by Hannah Rappleye/NBC News

Tiny Foundation Fellowships for Investigative Journalism

A man being interviewed indoors
Photo by Farah Nosh
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This is an opportunity for up-and-coming and experienced journalists who are interested digging deeper into the role of technology in abuses of power, problematic cyber policies, and give voice to the victims of unaccountable tech industries.

Sums between $5,000 and $20,000 CAD are available to reporters that propose stories about big tech and government accountability. The fellowship is open to freelance and employed journalists, established veterans and upcoming journalists. You may have a relationship with an existing outlet or require assistance in getting your story to the right editor. We aim to support the work as much or as little as is needed. We are particularly interested in applicants who would like to engage in creative storytelling including interactive multimedia, docs, and podcasts. 

The Citizens is a non-profit organization based in London that seeks to hold big tech and government to account through impact journalism, and is particularly interested in stories about data rights, platform power, dark money, and erosion of democratic accountability. 

The Global Reporting Centre, a non-profit journalism organization based out of the University of British Columbia, is dedicated to innovating global journalism by challenging problematic norms and practices, supporting experimentation, and fostering collaboration.

Interested applicants should submit a proposal combined as a single PDF titled LASTNAME_AWFELLOWSHIPS to fellowships@globalreportingcentre.org. We encourage applicants from diverse backgrounds and underrepresented communities.

Please include: 

  1. A brief proposal, including a timeline of the project 
  2. Distribution plan for the project, including medium and potential publication outlet(s). (no more than 100 words) [A letter of support from the media outlet is not required]
  3. A preliminary budget (max of $20,000 CAD) including a basic breakdown of costs. This can include travel or reporter stipend, but please indicate accordingly.
  4. Resume/CV 
  5. Examples of published work, if any 

The deadline for the application is November 30, 2021. Selected applications may be contacted for more details and/or an interview.

Meet Our New Supply Chain Reporting Fellow

Esther Cheung
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Can you tell me a bit about your background?

I’m an animator and filmmaker and have been working in the commercial animation industry for the past few years. I have a Bachelor in Animation Arts from Sheridan College, located about an hour west of my hometown Markham. I’ve been drawing for as long as I remember and am especially interested in the documentary medium. As I delved deeper into the animation industry, it was rare to find the medium being used for nonfiction in a high-quality way. Drawings always seemed like the medium of last resort – I want to change that. 

What are your areas of interest/what would you like to report on?

I think I am still trying to figure out my niche – I come from an arts background and am a drawer first and foremost, which greatly influences the way I see the world. As a visually inclined person, I am drawn to stories that are visually compelling. Oftentimes, this tends to reveal itself in my great fascination with cultures and the people that form them. I enjoy focusing on understanding the choices people make and understanding the context under which they were chosen. Currently, I am interested in people, the migration of people and the fusions of cultures that form when they rebel against assimilation. 

Why were you interested in applying for the Hidden Costs of Global Supply Chains Student Fellowship?

There is a lot to be said about the way the world is connected now. I was always curious about my personal impact and the ripples I make with one small action: a purchase, a post, my choice of tomato at the grocery store. Our globalized world causes our personal actions to affect much more than we can immediately see. I am interested in the ramifications of my actions and choices and hope that I can not only better understand my responsibility as a global citizen but make bigger waves of change.

What drew you to the GRC? 

The quality storytelling drew me first and foremost to the GRC. But I found that the particular stories showcased really reeled me in. I wanted to take part in telling impactful stories.

Are there any aspects of investigating global supply chains that you’re particularly interested in?

I am interested in the human side of stories. I am particularly interested in how people are affected by decisions that they did not make. Stories of labour abuses and corruption definitely interest me.

What will your role be as the Hidden Costs fellow?

Currently, I am creating illustrations to help people understand the story as well as working with Andrew to create interactive elements for the website, which is pretty exciting. 

Thank you for your time, and welcome to the GRC team. I wish you success in your new role!