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The origins of Democracy SOS

Election SOS was borne out of necessity. What's that you may ask?

The first iteration of this project.

Newsrooms with financial constraints and a relentless news cycle needed a cohesive collaborative where they could find resources for covering the 2020 U.S. Elections.

As you'll see on this page, that meant a host of resources, including webinars and an expert network, to help journalists cover not only a contentious election, but the Jan. 6 insurrection and beyond.

Enter, Democracy SOS.

Contentious elections and other threats to our democracy should remain at the forefront of news coverage, even in a non-election year.

That's why we're launching this fellowship cohort, to inform and engage, which is the heart of what we do at Hearken and Solutions Journalism Network anyway.


ESOSRapid Response Fun Logo

We created the Election SOS Rapid Response Fund to meet emergent needs around election coverage in 2020. In total, with the help of our funders, we distributed just over $200,000 in 38 grants to newsrooms and freelancers serving audiences in 13 states and nationally.

  • Conecta Arizona: to expand the reach of Conecta in Arizona and continue addressing misinformation in the news. Conecta will use the grant to pay for reporting, compensate individuals’ time, continue the election’s coverage, while simultaneously explaining reach. The grant will be used to pay for reporting, fact-checking, and a radio show. This will include setting up interviews, doing research, community outreach, writing articles and continuing Conecta’s presence on WhatsApp and La Hora de Cafecito.
  • The Daily Independent: to contract with a veteran journalist to specifically provide coverage of the Arizona statehouse and coverage of our U.S. representatives and senators.
  • The Lake Okeechobee News: to provide coverage from an Immokalee perspective of those recently elected to office: how they intend to use their office to address lingering economic/educational/health challenges confronting the community and what plans they have to reach out to residents and represent their interests at all levels.
  • The Current: to support a data reporter who can make public records requests and sift and clean data records and to finance a LexisNexis account to help with legal research for reporting.
  • Project Q Atlanta: to support reporting on the path forward for LGBTQ+ equality efforts; U.S. Senate race runoffs; and the most LGBTQ+ state lawmakers ever seen in Georgia.
  • Anoa Changa: to produce continuing coverage of the Georgia runoff races and ongoing issues around election integrity and democracy both in the state and nationally. It would also support audiovisual production, including upgrading the setup and editing for the podcast The Way with Anoa.
  • Avant-Youth: to provide support to staff members and pay freelancers.
  • The Telegraph and The Ledger-Enquirer: to hire freelancers, graphic designers, and other necessary staff for ongoing coverage of the vote-counting process.
  • Kennesaw State University: to provide stipends for the interns, intern editors and supervisors, associated technology costs and travel expenses for reporters covering the upcoming 2021 Georgia General Assembly; the aftermath of the two Georgia U.S. Senate runoff elections; and how the policies and initiatives of a Biden-Harris administration will affect marginalized and underrepresented communities.
  • WBUR: to cover Spanish-translation costs for post-election stories of particular interest to Greater Boston’s Latinx community and to help offset the salary and fringe of the newsroom’s current freelance editor to keep her efforts focused on politics for up to one additional month.
  • Model D Media: to cover the efforts on the ground by community organizations and fighting and debunking misinformation and disinformation to inform the public.
  • Serena Maria Daniels: will work with Model D Media in Detroit to publish a series of solutions-based stories and consult with her colleagues at First Draft to conduct investigative research to identify the roots of the online campaigns launched aimed to call into question the results of the election.
  • The Forward: to continue dedicating reporting and newsletter distribution resources to unmasking disinformation and debunking conspiracy theories and/or direct resources to more Yiddish election news coverage through special newsletter sends and additional focus on social media.
  • Mother Jones: to support reporting in Georgia, spending time talking to voters and embedding with the Warnock campaign.
  • Votebeat: to keep reporting on the Georgia runoffs through January.
  • Prism: to cover the costs of a special election correspondent and increase Grantee’s capacity to accept freelance work from BIPOC journalists highlighting election issues in their own communities.
  • Enlace Latino NC: for election and post-election reporting support serving North Carolina’s fast-growing Latinx immigrant and Spanish-speaking community.
  • Hola Carolina: to fund reporting to specifically cover developments related to the elections and civic engagement in general.
  • Carolina Public Press: to create English to Spanish translation services for continued coverage of the state’s ballot recount of the Supreme Court chief justice race, as well as another investigative election story related to possible ballot harvesting in one North Carolina county. The funding would help support the Spanish translation of news stories for newsletter, website, and broadcast scripts for our radio and video assets, as well as increasing distribution networks among Spanish-language radio stations across the state.
  • Shana Black: to report on the gaps that allowed disenfranchisement of underrepresented populations in Cleveland and highlight organizations and support that were in place to help those same communities in different cities or regions. The hope is that by amplifying programs or tactics that helped people understand the democratic process or engage in voters, other organizations and communities would be able to begin to incorporate those strategies to help the people of Northeast Ohio.
  • Pittsburgh City Paper: to purchase protective equipment for journalists covering protests and support post-election reporting.
  • Streetlight Media Group: to support reporting to look into problems with voting and investigate further if needed, dive into the election results, attend the upcoming Board of Elections meetings, and support basic government coverage in the coming weeks.
  • WITF: to dedicate an experienced reporter to cover the process and implications of redistricting; the effect of language barriers and what can be done to make voting access easier for Spanish speakers; and whether the 2020 election will lead to fundamental changes in how Pennsylvania administers its elections.
  • WLVR: to fulfill a 7-week contract, at 15 hours per week, with a freelance editor to increase the amount of coverage WLVR News provides to the community.
  • David Ryder, freelancer: covering protests in Seattle against the Trump administration’s challenge to election results.
  • KNKX Public Radio: for translation services to help reach underserved communities and to put toward special projects, primarily focused on the urban-rural divide and post-election issues.
  • Wisconsin Watch: to support the Narrow Margin project, which has been examining the mechanics and equity of voting in Wisconsin, including voter suppression, election security and misinformation, providing adequate photography to accompany election-related stories.
  • Racine County Eye LLC: to cover future freelance costs to allow reporting on Ex-Prisoners Organizing (ExPo), a group trying to change the narrative around voter disenfranchisement through a program called Unlocking the Vote, and the group’s barriers in trying to connect with state Legislators.