New York, NY — The Dow Jones News Fund, best known for providing training and internships for college students, is expanding its scope to provide foundational skills reinforcement for young journalists in their early years in a newsroom. The pilot program will launch Feb. 16-17 in Nashville, with the opening session featuring former Poynter Institute president Karen Brown Dunlap and Pulitzer-prize winning reporter Wesley Lowery.
The News Fund, in a partnership with McClatchy, will train 13 journalists from five of its local newsrooms as the first cohort of Early Career Training Fellows. Most participants are beat reporters with less than three years of experience.
The motivation for the new programming came after hearing editors lament their inability to develop promising young hires, especially as newsroom staffs have been thinned and training budgets have taken a hit, said News Fund Executive Director Shirley Carswell.
“Few but the largest news outlets have dedicated trainers or a system to teach the kind of skills that previous generations of journalists picked up on the job working in close proximity to more seasoned reporters and demanding city editors,” Carswell said.
Today, many new hires are thrown into the deep end out of necessity. Some work remotely, making it harder for them to grasp a media organization’s unique culture and find a path to success.
“Among our strategic goals is strengthening and growing our valued partner relationships. That includes understanding the industry challenges and seeking solutions that may come from programming opportunities. This exciting, new training initiative we’re piloting with McClatchy delivers on a resource need that local newsroom leaders have shared with us. It also builds on the success of the News Fund’s premier internship program,” said Brent Jones, president of the Dow Jones News Fund.
The early career program, a natural extension of the News Fund’s mission to develop a well-trained and diverse newsroom workforce, aims to give young journalists a leg up. It will provide a series of weekly online classes covering topics such as the art of interviewing, sharpening critical thinking skills and developing sources on a new beat. Veteran news executive Sandra Long Weaver is the coordinating director for the pilot. She has lined up more than a dozen distinguished journalists to lead interactive sessions that will give the Fellows a stronger foundation and teach tricks of the trade that can be put to use immediately. Trainers include Dean Baquet of the New York Times, Cheryl W. Thompson and Keith Woods of NPR, Michelle Faust Raghavan of NextGen Radio and Maria Reeve of the Houston Chronicle.
In addition to advancing young careers, the program’s goals include expanding affordable training opportunities for resource-starved local newsrooms and generating more impactful local reporting.
“We’re thrilled to be able to partner with the Dow Jones News Fund on this important initiative,” said Robyn Tomlin, vice president of Local News at McClatchy. “This is a significant investment in the development of our early-career journalists, and we know it will help them boost their skills and elevate their work in ways that will benefit readers across the communities we serve.”
The News Fund is sponsoring the pilot program, which is free for Fellows. After the pilot, partner news organizations will be charged a modest fee for each Fellow to offset training costs. Participating newsrooms commit to providing paid time off for journalists to attend virtual training once a week for eight weeks and daylong in-person sessions at the start and conclusion of the program.
The training topics include: building a relationship with your editor; mastering the building blocks of good writing; sourcing up quickly on breaking news; staying safe while covering volatile situations, and more.
About The Dow Jones News Fund
The Dow Jones News Fund is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that promotes careers in journalism with the vision of establishing a robust news media staffed by well-trained, innovative journalists who reflect America’s diversity and are dedicated to a free, strong and fair press. The News Fund is supported by Dow Jones & Company, Dow Jones Foundation, media companies and private donations.
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