Apply to MuckRock’s Thiel Fellowship

One Year. $2,000*. Some requests just can’t wait.

Written by Michael Morisy
Edited by JPat Brown

Peter Thiel - co-founder of both PayPal and Palantir and an early Facebook investor - has profoundly reshaped industry after industry and, ultimately, remade the world to fit his radical vision of the future. Unfortunately, despite his impact in industries ranging from digital payments and mass government surveillance to radical life extension and seasteading, the media has done relatively little reporting on the details of his companies, often leaving the public in the dark on his contributions to society.

But maybe you can change that.

With MuckRock’s Thiel Fellowship, we want to help journalists and researchers better understand this pivotal figure’s work and share what they learn with the world.

MuckRock is offering a grant of 250 requests (a $1,000 value), plus our invaluable FOIA expertise, to between one and three inaugural Thiel Fellows who propose projects that help the public better understand organizations or areas of research and public policy connected with Thiel. Even better, Motherboard has agreed to double that, providing an additional $1,000 to fund FOIA request fees, research, potential stipends, or other related costs of the fellowship.

Maybe your proposal will look into the adoption of Palantir by local governments — often the result of no-bid contracts based on confidential presentations. Maybe it will shed light on Palantir’s federal work; private contractors make up about 70% of the United State’s intelligence budget, but the work they do is often under appreciated by the public.

Or maybe you think that the public could benefit from a better understanding of Thiel’s bold, nuanced vision of free speech.

“I want to help the CPJ defend the rights of online journalists,” Thiel has previously stated, announcing his substantial support for the Committee for the Protection of Journalists. That support overlapped with the time PayPal famously froze WikiLeak’s account at the request of lawmakers, and came before he was revealed to have secretly bankrolled a series of lawsuits to bankrupt the independent publisher Gawker, an act he called “one of my greater philanthropic things that I’ve done.”

And Thiel could become an even more important force in the American way of life: The Huffington Post reported that he is being considered for a Supreme Court spot by the Donald Trump campaign, although he has since denied the report.

Prospective fellows could also help bring greater appreciation, attention, and understanding to a number of other fields that Thiel has shown interest in, from life extension to the creation of new nations at sea.

Applications are on a rolling basis with the first deadline of October 1, 2016. Applicants should email the following to info@muckrock.com with the subject line “MuckRock Thiel Fellowship”:

  • Their name.
  • A proposal of 300 words or fewer on how they would use the Thiel Fellowship to research and illuminate the work of Peter Thiel, or examine a research and illuminate a field in which he has been active.
  • A short biography of the applicant, 300 words or fewer, OR the applicant’s resume as an attachment.
  • Links to any prior work or other materials that you believe will help MuckRock in understanding why you would be a good fit for the Thiel Fellowship.

The application is open to both independent researchers and journalists as well as those who have full- or part-time employment at an organization, and while we encourage Fellows to make the results of their work widely available, they are free to do so in any manner they choose.

Please note that MuckRock’s Thiel Fellowship is not supported by nor endorsed by Thiel, but is merely named in recognition of his world-changing work. It is in no way affiliated with that other Thiel Fellowship.

* $1,000 is the approximate value of MuckRock services offered with this fellowship, with an additional $1,000 from Motherboard allocated for additional costs.

Image via Flickr and is licensed under CC BY 2.0