Project Background

As Lebanon faces unprecedented economic, social, and political challenges, the media has an essential role to play to preserve societal cohesion and highlight the plight of marginalised groups. The Samir Kassir Foundation (SKF) and the Thomson Reuters Foundation (TRF) have teamed up as part of a consortium program funded by the US State Department Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights & Labor (DRL). This program aims to facilitate the emergence of a media environment (including social media) that provides a fair representation of all components of the society and empower marginalised groups and hate speech victims to express themselves freely and safely.

Traditionally, the Lebanese media landscape has been entrenched in political and sectarian interests. However, independent journalists have sought in recent years to launch alternative outlets online, committed to the highest ethical and professional standards. The audiences of independent media outlets have grown significantly after the October 2019 protest movement as a wider consciousness emerged within the Lebanese population to seek news from less politicised sources. This program aims to strengthen independent organisations’ coverage and institutional sustainability.

SKF and TRF invite proposals from Lebanese independent media platforms for the provision of financial and professional support. Grants of up to $55,000 (USD) are available for capacity-building projects that would support content production, staff resourcing, and organisational sustainability initiatives.

Supported outlets would also be eligible for one-on-one journalist mentoring by TRF experts. The mentoring will accompany journalists at every level of the production cycle, from understanding concepts and notions, to pitching, data gathering, field work, drafting, multi-media integration, publication, and promotion.

Supported outlets will also receive ongoing coaching on the latest best practices in online media start-up management. The management support initiative will contribute to the institutional and financial sustainability of supported organisations beyond the scope of this program.


Eligibility criteria (applicants must meet all requirements)

  • Media organisations which produce original content (not news aggregators).
  • Organisations that produce content around human rights and marginalised groups.
  • Organisations must have an online platform, with some social media presence preferable.
  • Organisations which are politically independent and transparent about funding sources (please see here for TRF criteria on independent media organisations).
  • Organisations must be based in Lebanon. Organisations which are not currently registered must commit to doing so within the first six months of the project.
  • Preference will be given to organisations that demonstrate diversity within staff and board members.

How to apply

Proposal Elements

  • Overall objective: in a few sentences, what change will your project implement?
  • Context: Why is there a need for this funding? What challenges within your organisation will it address? Please refer to the overall context of your organisation in relation to the national/local socio-political economic framework.
  • Activities: What activities will be put in place? Please provide a detailed month-by-month timeline.
  • Outputs: What targets will you aim to hit with additional funding? How and when will the project be monitored and evaluated? Please provide a source of evidence you will use to track progress.
  • Risks: What are the current and foreseeable risks that might impede the delivery of the project? Please take into account: financial, operational, reputational, political, and security risks, etc.
  • Sustainability: How will the project be sustainable once the requested funding is no longer provided?
  • Key staff: please include short bios and CVs (as appendices) of all key personnel who would be funded by the grant.
  • Budget: please complete the attached excel template.  


Please complete all above sections. Your proposal narrative should be no longer than 6 pages (not including appendices) and be accompanied by a project budget – please refer to the relevant template.

Please send the completed proposal and supporting materials to [email protected]. The submission deadline is January 10, 2021.

Projects will be selected by consortium representatives as well as a number of CSOs active in the protection of marginalised groups. Selected applicants will be notified in February 2021.


About the implementing organisations

The Samir Kassir Foundation (SKF) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization, working to spread democratic culture in Lebanon and the Arab world and encourage new talents of free press. SKF hosts the SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom, which has become the largest operation to monitor and denounce violations of freedom of expression in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Palestine. SKF provides high-level capacity building for journalists to improve their coverage of sensitive issues, with support from local and international trainers, and world class media development institutions. SKF also provides financial and legal support to journalists in distress and advocates for the reform of legislations and practices that curtail freedom of expression. SKF has developed an expertise in media analysis and qualitative research around media consumption patterns and media content. SKF employs a team of 18 in Beirut, Amman, Jerusalem, Ramallah, Gaza, Paris, and Amsterdam.

The Thomson Reuters Foundation (TRF) is the corporate foundation of Thomson Reuters, the global news and information services company. As an independent charity, registered in the UK and the USA, TRF works to advance media freedom, foster more inclusive economies, and promote human rights, through news, media development, free legal assistance, and convening initiatives. For more than 35 years, through its media development training, TRF has worked to strengthen local journalism, improve media ethics, standards and regulation, combat misinformation, and shape the future of the profession. TRF does this through newsroom consultancy, journalism training and mentoring, capacity-building, and via our funding of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford. TRF also provides news reporting that sheds light on all forms of rights violations, legal support through the TrustLaw network, and media development services to journalists reporting on complex human rights issues.


Criteria regarding editorial independence

  1. Media is not a state-body owned outlet (fully or owning  enough stock to influence editorial decisions). 
  2. Media’s key personnel decisions are not influenced by state bodies or officials. 
  3. Media doesn’t have state officials (including members of the legislative and executive branches) on its governing board with the power to influence its editorial policies. 
  4. Media is not directly or indirectly subsidised by government entities, through direct budget support or grants, providing the survival of the media depends on such a support. 
  5. Media’s owners or key editorial staff are not affiliated with political parties and using the media outlet as a tool to gain political influence. 
  6. Media is not a corporate outlet (i.e. a publication created for employees or clients of a company, not the public reader). 
  7. Media is not a PR and lobbying tool for the owner. 


Criteria regarding values

  1. Media shares democratic values. 
  2. Media is producing content meaningful to the community and touching on issues beyond consumerism, entertainment. While it could be acceptable that the media outlet writes a lot about the latter, it also should take social leadership and provide the audience with basic news.  
  3. Media does not produce hate speech and does not promote intolerance. 
  4. Media is not pure news aggregator, but produces a share of its own news and in-house content. 
  5. Media does not violate professional ethiсs. 
Sunday, 10. Jan 2021
Type of Call
Call for Proposals
Intervention Sector(s):
Communications & Media, Democracy & Civic rights, Human Rights & Protection