California Local News Fellowship - Newsrooms
Frequently Asked Questions
The fellowship program is open to California-based newsrooms that produce original, local reporting in the public interest and are interested in hosting a full-time, early-career journalist for two years, starting in September 2024. We prioritize newsrooms operating in underserved communities, including for-profit, nonprofit, public media, and community and ethnic media outlets. We are most interested in newsrooms that understand and are seeking to meet their communities’ information needs and can articulate how hosting a fellow would contribute to that goal. Finally, newsrooms need to demonstrate that they are committed to professional journalistic ethics and support diversity and inclusion in their organizations.
Yes. This program is available to all news outlets, with a particular focus on those serving underrepresented communities. The program offers robust support, training, mentoring, and editing to augment the fellows’ newsroom experience. That said, the fellows are in the early stages of their journalism careers and it is important that every fellow has an experienced editor to report to in their newsroom. Ideally, they will be in an environment with other reporters, too, (full-time, part-time staff, or freelance) with whom they can build relationships.
While we have a focus on outlets in underserved communities, larger mainstream outlets are welcome to apply. We encourage larger outlets to place fellows in roles that expand their current coverage, assigning them to a beat, neighborhood or community that the outlet is not currently covering.
Because we are keenly interested in how newsrooms are serving their specific local communities, we require that each newsroom submit its own application, even if they are owned or managed by the same parent organization.
Because this program is funded by California taxpayers and is intended to strengthen local news coverage in the state, the program is restricted to news organizations headquartered in California.
All of the fellows are expected to produce the kind of reporting that helps your audiences become more informed and able to participate in their communities. You know best what your newsroom and community need. Fellows may be general assignment reporters or focused on a specific beat. They can produce daily stories, longer features, investigative and accountability reporting, or a combination of these reporting styles. They can work in any medium, including print/digital, video, audio, multimedia and/or photography. Whatever the beat, reporting style and medium, newsrooms should articulate a clear plan for the fellow’s role and how that role furthers their newsroom’s mission. We also want to understand how you will support the fellow editorially and professionally over the two-year program.
Newsrooms will be selected in January 2024. The fellow application will open in early 2024 and fellows will be selected by April. Fellows and newsrooms will be matched with each other by late spring 2024. We will announce the 2024 cohort in the summer. Fellows will begin working in their newsrooms in early September 2024 and will complete the program in September 2026.
While fellows are based in their host newsroom, they are full-time, exempt employees of the University of California. They are managed by their onsite newsroom manager, who should provide day-to-day support and editorial guidance and help integrate them into the newsroom and the communities where they are reporting. The fellows are represented by the UAW Local 5810; your newsroom will be expected to adhere to the union contract governing their positions. If accepted, we will provide your newsroom with more information about this.
The fellowship program will provide a percentage (ranging from 60-90%) of the fellows’ salaries and 100% of their benefits for two years, along with robust training, mentoring and editorial support.
Newsrooms are expected to contribute $25K per year if they have 20 or more FTEs;
$15K per year if they have 11-20 FTEs; and $5K per year if they have 1-10 FTEs.
Newsrooms are invoiced twice a year, in fall and spring, for their contribution to the program. Newsrooms also are expected to provide reporting equipment (laptops, audio or visual equipment, etc.) and to cover the fellows’ reporting expenses, including travel reimbursement (i.e. mileage), document fees, etc.
The program will offer training and mentoring throughout the two-year program. The fellows will attend an in-person orientation at Berkeley Journalism in early September 2024, prior to starting work in their newsrooms. After that, you should anticipate that fellows will spend one to two hours per week in fellowship-related activities. The vast majority of the programming will take place online but, as the program evolves, we may organize additional statewide or regional in-person gatherings. If so, we will provide newsrooms with plenty of advanced notice.
The intent of the funding for this program is to create new local news reporting positions throughout the state. For that reason, participating newsrooms will sign an MOU agreeing that fellows will not replace existing staff.
If there is a reporter in your community whom you would like to have in your newsroom — someone whose work you’ve admired or who has freelanced for your organization — please encourage them to apply for the fellowship program and apply as a preferred match. There will be space in the newsroom and fellowship applications to indicate that you’d like to work together. If both the fellow and the newsroom are accepted into the program, we will do our best to place you together.