DEADLINE: The National Science-Health-Environment Reporting Fellowships

Event Date: 
May 17, 2021

A development program for early-career journalists

SHERF logoU.S. journalists interested in building careers reporting on science, health and the environment are eligible to apply for new cross-cutting fellowships designed to provide training, networking, mentoring, new sources and story ideas, while allowing them to stay at their jobs.

The National Science-Health-Environment Reporting Fellowships are a first-ever collaboration of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing (CASW), the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ), and the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ). The year-long fellowships are open to early-career journalists interested in covering any or all of the three fields.

Aware that today’s fast-changing media economy makes it harder than ever to build a career as a specialized journalist, the three organizations seek to enable journalists to do rigorous reporting on complex topics and pursue a wide variety of job opportunities and stories. The project also aims to increase equity and diversity in these areas of journalism by offering a practical and effective opportunity for the vast majority of journalists who cannot afford the cost or time commitment required for academic training in specialized journalism.

The pilot project, funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Department of Science Education and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, will provide 12 fellowships. The program is particularly aimed at staff and freelance journalists with between two and 10 years of professional reporting experience.

“Our society is awash in misinformation and misconceptions about science and the process of science,” said Sean B. Carroll, vice president for science education at HHMI. “By supporting talented storytellers of diverse backgrounds, these new fellowships promise to strengthen fact-based journalism in communities across the United States.”

Holly Potter, chief communications officer at the Moore Foundation, added: “These boundary-spanning fellowships will support journalists covering some of the most critical issues of our time—conservation, health, and science. The cross-cutting nature of their training reflects the reality of our interdependent world, and will offer an unprecedented opportunity for them to report with the same level of rigor across subject boundaries."

Over the course of a year set to start in July 2021, selected fellows will participate in workshops, a reporting bootcamp, multi-day field trips and webinars, with the details and timing of any in-person activities adjusted when necessary in response to health guidelines. Fellows will be supported in attending any of the partner organizations’ annual conferences and participating in additional networking, professional development and access to resources. The fellows will be linked by an online networking platform and matched with professional mentors. Independent journalists will be eligible for project support stipends.

Fellowships are an essential step on the ladder for journalists seeking a sustainable career in the science, health, and environment beats. Increasing access to training and mentoring for early career journalists from communities under-represented in the field is key to SEJ's mission. Through innovative and comprehensive programs like this, we increase and improve science, health, and environmental journalism by supporting the journalists who tell the world's most important stories.

"This fellowship will open unexpected doors and insights for this first cohort of journalists, and this innovative program will advance reporters' abilities to cover these often nuanced and complex issues," said Sadie Babits, SEJ's president. "I'm proud that SEJ is a part of this inaugural fellowship, and I look forward to the inspired journalism that will come from this fellowship."

The fellowships were modeled on AHCJ’s Regional Reporting Fellowship Program, which has graduated 117 reporters since its launch a decade ago. The activities of the new fellowship will be coordinated by AHCJ staff working in collaboration with CASW and SEJ. The reporting bootcamp will take place on the University of Missouri campus, while workshops and conferences will take place in other cities across the country.

Deadline to apply: May 10, 2021 extended to May 17 at 6 p.m. ET, 5 p.m. CT, 3 p.m. PT

Questions? Contact Susan Cunningham, susan@healthjournalism.org or 573-882-2203.

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