The Abrams Nieman Fellowship for Local Investigative Journalism was created to bolster deeply reported local and regional news stories in underserved communities throughout the United States.
Funded by the Abrams Foundation, the fellowship in the 2018-19 academic year will fund up to three Nieman Fellowships for U.S. journalists who cover news in areas of the United States where resources are scarce. The fellowship additionally will fund up to nine months of fieldwork at the fellow’s home news organization after two semesters at Harvard – or in the case of freelance journalists, a newsroom partner. During the fieldwork period, the Abrams Nieman Fellows may expand or develop an investigative project that will provide better, more in-depth coverage of issues important to the communities they serve.
This pilot fellowship program grows out of a shared belief by the Nieman Foundation and the Abrams Foundation that public service fact-based local and regional investigative journalism is a vital component in a healthy democracy and is in need of new and creative means of support.
At Harvard, the Abrams Nieman Fellows will acquire new knowledge and skills, broaden their understanding of issues important to their communities, build leadership potential and develop an extensive network of expert contacts and potential collaborators in preparation of their fieldwork. The fellowship in broader terms is designed to strengthen journalism in some newsrooms that lack the means to support deep investigations important to local communities.
During their fieldwork, the Abrams Nieman Fellows will work on a public service reporting project for their home news organization and participate in specialized journalism education. During this time, the Abrams Nieman Fellows will return to Harvard University periodically and may create materials and content for Nieman Foundation publications. The fellows may also learn new skills such as audience development and engagement; database journalism; digital storytelling; FOIA requests and research, narrative reporting; and investigative tools and techniques.
The Abrams Nieman Fellowship additionally will provide opportunities for the fellows to build a support network of local journalists looking to collaborate on long-term reporting projects. Journalists who apply for the fellowship may be working on a project they wish to expand in some new way, or make plans to develop a new project during their fieldwork. Nieman alumni, many of whom have produced award-winning investigative work in small markets, will serve as advisors to the Abrams Nieman Fellows.
Candidates for the fellowship must be working journalists with at least five years of full-time media experience. Print, radio, TV and online editors and journalists are all eligible, as are freelancers. The application deadline for the 2018-19 Abrams Nieman Fellowships is Feb. 15, 2018. Information about the application process is available on the How to Apply webpage.
Applicants for the Abrams Nieman Fellowship will be required to provide a short (no more than 500 words) fieldwork proposal.
Those who work within a news organization must request a letter of support for the fieldwork project from their employer. The employer also must state the intent of the news organization to permit the applicant to work on the project for the duration of the fieldwork period. If the immediate supervisor who is writing one of the three letters of recommendation will also submit the letter of support, that person may do so within a single letter.
Freelance applicants are not required to have a letter of support but will be asked to indicate potential partner organizations for their fieldwork project.