​​From day one, The 19th has been committed to rewriting our national narrative: to expanding whose voices are reflected in American media and who gets to tell those stories. We’ve also been determined to offer the kinds of flexibility and opportunity that create pipelines for new leadership in our industry — specifically among women of color and the LGBTQ+ community.

Today, we’re thrilled to take an enormous step forward on that journey, with the announcement of a groundbreaking fellowship program for graduates of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

The Frances Ellen Watkins Harper Fellowship Program — named for the “mother of African American journalism,” funded with a $3.8 million gift from Michelle Mercer and Bruce Golden, and developed in partnership with Nikole Hannah-Jones, Howard University’s Knight Chair in Race and Journalism — will provide recent graduates and mid-career alums of Historically Black Colleges and Universities with full-year, salaried and benefit-laden fellowships in the areas of reporting, editing, audience engagement or newsroom technology. 

The program, which was designed by reporters, editors and developers in the 19th newsroom, will feature on-the-job training, mentorship and development opportunities, assistance navigating job placement post-fellowship, and advisory support from Hannah-Jones and Howard University’s Center for Journalism and Democracy.  

Mercer and Golden, early supporters of The 19th, said they were inspired to fund the fellowship program — the largest single gift in The 19th’s history — after listening to 19th Editor-at-large Errin Haines and Hannah-Jones share their own experiences with journalism education at this year’s 19th Represents Summit.

“We felt inspired and reminded of the power we have to help build a better future for the talented and bright journalistic minds studying at HBCUs,” Mercer and Golden said.

Haines, herself a product of a newsroom fellowship program that gave her the confidence to tell stories about her community, said she expects the Frances Ellen Watkins Harper program to create “a transformative path and an industry standard for women of color and LGBTQ+ journalists to not only land competitive newsroom jobs but to thrive and become leaders in our industry.”

Hannah-Jones said partnering on The 19th’s fellowship program is a departure for her: She hasn’t typically supported newsroom fellowships because she hasn’t seen news organizations put the time and effort in to ensure fellows get the support, experience and guidance needed to land full-time positions.

“But this fellowship is unlike any I have seen in the industry,” she said. “The fellowship program The 19th is creating should be the gold standard for how newsroom fellowships should work, as it will provide the type of opportunity that our aspiring journalists of color deserve.”

Additional details on the Frances Ellen Watkins Harper Fellowship Program:

  • This full-year journalism fellowship for five HBCU graduates annually will include three reporting or editing fellows, one audience engagement fellow and one technology or product fellow.
  • Fellows will receive a minimum salary of $70,000 and all other benefits of full-time employees, including health insurance, paid time off and a 401(K) plan.
  • The 19th is currently hiring a full-time fellowships director and a full-time people operations manager to assist with recruiting, operations and post-fellowship job placement. Please apply!
  • Fellowship applications are slated to open in mid-2022, with the first class of fellows expected to come aboard in September 2022. Stay tuned for more details on applying!   

While The 19th’s inaugural fellowship program will serve HBCU graduates, we don’t intend to stop there. We look forward to partnering with other institutions of higher education in the future to bring the same groundbreaking fellowships into additional communities. 

“What we aim to do with this exciting and essential new program is to help create the newsrooms we want to see in this industry,” Haines said, “diverse, talented and reflective of the world around them.”