One of the main purposes of the award is to fund a project that otherwise would not come to fruition. Bearing this in mind here are some answers to questions that people have about the likelihood of their proposal being successful.
Q: Must a story already have been commissioned by a publication in order for a writer to apply?
A: No, you do not need to have an assignment in order to apply.
Q. Does having an assignment disqualify me?
A. No. But few publications would actually assign a piece that needs to be reported if funding for that reporting was a question. Sometimes an editor might say, “We could see assigning you this piece if you had a way to pay for the travel.” If you have had a conversation like that, please let us know with whom you had it.
Q: How can the applicant guarantee that their project will get published in a suitably well-known publication?
A: Publication, in this world, is never guaranteed. But projects are selected based in part on our estimation of how likely the finished piece is to find a strong outlet for publication.
Q: I am a full-time staff writer at a publication, but the story I want to write is not something they will fund or publish. Can I still apply?
A: Yes, you may apply. The judges will want to hear how you plan to put sufficient time into the project in order to report and finish the piece in a timely fashion while working full-time.
Q: I am a freelance writer; can I include payment for my time in the budget for the project?
A: You may, but you don’t have to. Most proposals do not factor the writer’s time in the budget.
Q: I am not a U.S. citizen. Am I eligible to apply?
A: Yes, you are. There are no citizenship nor residency requirements.
Q: I am a U.S. citizen, but I live abroad. Do I need to come to New York to accept the prize or work on my project?
A: No, you do not need to come to New York.
Q: Does the project have to be published in American media?
A: No. However the publication should be well known to American audiences. Additionally, only proposals submitted in English, for articles intended to be written in English, will be considered.
Q: Can two people–co-writers, for instance–apply jointly for the award?
Q. Can the award be used to pay for book research?
A. No. The award is intended to support the research and writing of an article.
Q. It says the award is to “support the work of a promising early-career nonfiction writer.” I have 20 years of experience in various kinds of journalism–does that disqualify me?
A. The judges interpret that requirement to mean that the recipient should not already be established and well-known as a writer of longform nonfiction.