Journalists interested in building careers reporting on science, health and the environment are eligible to apply for cross-cutting fellowships designed to provide training, networking, mentoring, new sources and story ideas, while allowing them to continue their paid work.
The National Science-Health-Environment Reporting Fellowships, launched in 2021, are a 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. The pilot class of fellows is just completing their year of training.
In today’s volatile media industry, it is harder than ever to build a sustainable career as a specialized journalist. Through expert training, peer mentoring, and networking, this unique program seeks to enable journalists to report rigorously on complex topics, issues and policies, and to pursue a wide variety of stories, sources, and career opportunities. The project also aims to increase equity and diversity on these beats, where journalists of color have long been underrepresented. The fellowships offer a practical and effective opportunity for those who face barriers to accessing the traditional steps on the journalism career ladder, such as the cost or time commitment required for academic training in specialized journalism.
"The inaugural SHERF fellowship helped 12 journalists expand their insights in their respective fields while remaining in their current roles," said Sadie Babits, SEJ's board president. "I'm thrilled this first year has been a success, and grateful that funding will continue to allow a new group of fellows to expand their reporting skills in science, environment and health reporting."
Funded, once again, by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Department of Science Education and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the program will provide 12 fellowships starting in September. The program is particularly aimed at staff and freelance journalists with between two and 10 years of professional reporting experience.
“I was wowed by the diversity of storytellers in the inaugural class of fellows,” said Richard Stone, senior science editor for HHMI’s Tangled Bank Studios. “Thanks to skills such as data analysis taught in the program, the fellows have gone on to produce compelling, science-rich stories for under-served communities. I’m delighted that we’re able to continue to support this valuable training opportunity.”
“These fellowships will nurture the next generation of journalists in science, health, and environmental conservation,” said Holly Potter, chief communications officer for the Moore Foundation. “The interdependence of these fields is becoming increasingly clear. This cross-disciplinary training will enable these journalists to improve public understanding of some of the most critical issues of our time.”
Over the course of a year, the selected fellows will participate in workshops and other events held at the annual Science Writers (October 2022), Environmental Journalism (April 2023), and Health Journalism (Spring 2023) conferences. Custom webinars scheduled throughout the year will provide additional opportunities to gain skills, connections and resources to inform their reporting. Each fellow will be matched with a professional mentor; receive prepaid membership in the National Association of Science Writers, SEJ, and AHCJ; and participate in peer-to-peer networking platforms. Independent journalists will be eligible for project support stipends. In addition, alumni from the project’s first year will be invited to connect with new fellows online and at conferences and other events, to facilitate networking, continued learning and mutual support.