Council for the Advancement of Science Writing

Journalism partners unveil 2021-22 National Science-Health-Environment Reporting Fellowships program

Journalists interested in building careers reporting on science, health and the environment are eligible to apply for new cross-disciplinary 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 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.

“This collaboration among generous funders and three key professional societies for journalists who cover technical material exemplifies the novel, long-term training commitments that are crucial today for social progress and inclusive journalism that serves communities in the most effective ways possible,” said CASW Vice President Robin Lloyd, who is chairing a CASW initiative to enhance the quality and sustainability of science journalism. CASW Executive Director Rosalind Reid noted that the collaboration grew out of conversations with funders and partners during the 2020 launch of the initiative, which is focused on expanding training.

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 be held in other cities across the country.

See complete details on the fellowship at https://healthjournalism.org/prof-dev-fellowships-details.php?id=150.