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Apply for a 19th News Fellowship

Applications for our 2024-25 Frances Ellen Watkins fellowship have closed. Meet our 2023-24 fellows and explore their work here. And here’s a look at the work of our 2022-23 inaugural fellowship cohort.

Named for the “mother of African-American journalism,” the program was launched to provide recent graduates, mid-career alums and former students of Historically Black Colleges and Universities with full-year, salaried fellowships with full benefits in the areas of reporting, audience engagement and news product and technology. Learn more about Frances Ellen Watkins Harper below.

About the program

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper Fellows will spend a year working in reporting, audience engagement, product or technology roles with full-time salaries and benefits, made possible by the generous support of Michelle Mercer and Bruce Golden. Fellows will receive on-the-job training, mentorship and professional development opportunities. We also provide career coaching to prepare fellows for their path after their fellowship.

Fellowship tracks

Our cohorts include three reporting fellows, one audience engagement fellow and one product & technology fellow.

Fellows in the reporting track should expect to gain more experience in:

  • Covering issues deeply through original reporting, researched context and nuanced framing
  • Pitching stories they want to follow through the lens of equity and representation
  • Identifying and developing areas of expertise within their reporting
  • Exploring storytelling across digital platforms and in-person events
  • Centering the voices and experiences of people on the margins, who are often affected the most at the intersections of gender and policy

See stories reported on by our 2023-2024 and 2022-2023 fellows.

Fellows in the audience engagement track should expect to gain more experience in:

  • Finding, pitching, producing and reporting out audience-centric stories that live first and foremost on off-platform channels like Instagram. For example, our callout for Black country music fans, or our roundup of Women’s History Month quotes from our current fellow cohort
  • Optimizing and distributing journalism across platforms — such as on our site, via search, on social and in newsletters — to meet different audiences where they are
  • Crafting accurate, compelling headlines, social and newsletter copy, and visuals on deadline
  • Working with different roles across editorial, audio, event and product teams to execute on audience engagement projects
  • Using key newsroom platforms and tools to draft and schedule social media posts, update our homepage, monitor real-time metrics and trending topics, and produce an article or newsletter

Fellows in the product and technology track should expect to gain more experience in:

  • A specific engineering focus, building on existing skills in PHP and/or WordPress development, front-end engineering in HTML, CSS and JavaScript or data science quantitative analysis
  • Testing product feasibility, writing technical requirements and estimating timelines
  • Collaborating with engineers, product designers, researchers and managers to build, test and launch new features for products, like our website, republishing tools, apps like Apple News, and revenue and audience databases. For example, our current fellow built analytics dashboards for staff.
  • Communicating about technical progress, roadblocks and tradeoffs in a way that is understandable for non-technical stakeholders
  • Making technical decisions based on factors like ethics, security, performance and accessibility

The fellowship year

The fellowship year kicks off in the fall with an opening retreat for new fellows, held in conjunction with a 19th event in a different city every year. Both new and outgoing fellows have the chance to connect and community build. New fellows have sessions that set them up for the year and beyond, like building influence and managing up, while outgoing fellows celebrate the end of their fellowship. 

Key features of the fellowship:

  • A year of learning. In addition to being embedded on their respective teams, fellows experience a robust curriculum of relevant training throughout the fellowship, shaped in tandem with the cohort’s input. Previous workshops have included coping with trauma and burnout, networking, negotiating salary, revamping résumés and portfolios, tips from hiring managers, mental wellness and financial literacy. Trainers have hailed from The New York Times, American Press Institute, KHN, WHYY, AJ+, Poynter and more.
  • Growing your journalism network. The 19th supports fellows’ career progression by coordinating networking opportunities for fellows with journalists and hiring managers in media throughout the year via networking happy hours and hiring manager panels. The 19th covers one year of membership in the National Association of Black Journalists as well as fellows’ attendance to NABJ’s annual convention and career fair during their fellowship year. 
  • Legendary retreats. Fellows have an opening retreat at the start of the fellowship year to prepare them for the year ahead. As part of the retreat, they also attend a 19th event. At the midpoint of the fellowship, usually in early spring, fellows have a midyear retreat in Philadelphia where program namesake Frances Ellen Watkins Harper once lived. This retreat focuses on job preparation with resume and portfolio workshops, a networking happy hour and more. In late spring, fellows join the rest of The 19th staff at an all-staff retreat that focuses on learning, strategy and fun. Finally, fellows end the fellowship year with a fall celebration where they also connect with new fellows who are just beginning their year. In all, fellows attend four retreats – three fellowship-related and one with all staff. Accommodations for remote participation are also available.
  • Finding your career path. All fellows receive 1:1 goal-setting and coaching from The 19th’s director of fellowships, with support from people operations and very committed staff across the organization, including editor-at-large Errin Haines. Fellows also receive six months of coaching through Digital Women Leaders in the final three months of the fellowship and three months after the fellowship as they transition in their careers.
  • Professional development. Like all 19th staff, fellows receive a professional development stipend and are encouraged to seek out growth and learning opportunities. Previous fellows have completed Coursera courses and attended journalism conferences and seminars.
  • A bonus benefit. Fellows go through detailed and constructive performance reviews mid-fellowship to expose them to the process, so they are comfortable doing so in future roles. Fellows receive a one-time merit bonus once reviews are complete.

Who can apply

Eligible candidates should be any one of the following:

  • A recent graduate (within two years of graduation), early-career (three to four years’ experience) or mid-career alum (5-10 years’ experience) of a Historically Black College or University
  • A graduating senior of a Historically Black College College or University with a graduation date prior to the anticipated fellowship start date of October 2024
  • An individual who attended a Historically Black College or University for at least two years, and either transferred or did not graduate
  • All applicants must be legally authorized to work in the United States. This can include conditional student/work visas, provided The 19th will not be required to take additional steps in sponsorship

Eligible candidates should also have the following:

  • Some relevant experience in their chosen fellowship track
  • A genuine interest in growing their career in journalism
  • Alignment with The 19th’s values and community guidelines

How to apply

When submitting an application, prospective fellows will need to submit the following:

  • A cover letter explaining why you want to work at The 19th, and what impact this fellowship program would have on your career goals
  • Your résumé
  • Relevant samples of your work

Feel free to reach out to [email protected] if you have any questions.

Support fellowships at The 19th

Are you interested in supporting fellowships at The 19th? Please email [email protected] for more details.

Frequently Asked Questions

The three reporting fellows have six-week rotations between editors and cover politics, caregiving, health, education, LGBTQ+ issues and other topics. They are assigned breaking news, feature and enterprise stories, and can pitch and workshop their ideas for publication with their editor. Reporting fellows spend the second half of the fellowship in longer rotations, honing in on the topics that interest them. 

Fellows work remotely for the most part, though previous fellows have reported on the ground from Tulsa and Memphis. Reporting fellows are supervised by the editor in their rotation and report to the director of fellowships.

The audience fellow gets up to speed on managing social platforms, content production, scheduling and analytics tools, team processes and strategies for posting to specific platforms like our site, social channels, newsletters and optimizing stories for search. They run homepage and social shifts, exercising editorial judgment to position stories on the homepage of and independently posting The 19th’s journalism to our main profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Threads, LinkedIn and Instagram

The audience fellow brainstorms and contributes headline suggestions, drafts copy on deadline, schedules social media posts, updates our homepage, and monitors real-time metrics and trending topics. Audience fellows have the opportunity to write social-first stories, execute campaigns they pitched, work on podcast production and report their own stories. The audience fellow is supervised by the engagement editor and reports to the director of fellowships.

The product and technology fellow plays a pivotal role in supporting the product team through usability testing, surveys and audience interviews, synthesizing and summarizing lessons learned from our readers, and contributing to the assessment and scoring of product ideas. The product fellow has condensed reader data-points into digestible insights and designed dashboards to help us store and organize data from across the organization. 

In the 2024/2025 year, the product and tech fellow will have an engineering background and focus. They will test product feasibility, write technical requirements and collaborate on building, testing and launching new features for products like The 19th’s website, republishing tools, apps like Apple News and more. Clearly communicating progress and challenges to non-technical stakeholders will be key. The product fellow is supervised by the product operations manager and reports to the director of fellowships.

Fellows receive a salary of $70,000-$75,000 depending on the fellowship track they are selected for. Fellow salaries do not exceed this range to ensure salary equity across all levels at The 19th.

Fellows will be eligible for most 19th employment benefits, including:  

  • Vacation Time Off (20 days per year)
  • Sick Time Off (10 days per year)
  • Personal Days (6 days per year)
  • Paid Holidays (20 days in 2024)
  • Paid Family Leave (100% up to 6 months)
  • Caregiver leave (100% up to 4 months)
  • 401(k) Plan (up to 3.5% matching on 6% contribution)
  • Flexible Spending Plan (for qualifying medical or child care expenses)
  • Health Savings Account
  • Health, vision, and dental insurance (100% covered by The 19th for employee / 60% for dependents)
  • Professional Development Stipends
  • Wellness and Work From Home stipends
  • Long Term and Short Term Disability insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Company expense account
  • A midyear merit bonus

Fellowship positions are remote so fellows can reside anywhere in the United States. Some portions of the fellowship will require fellows to travel, whether for 19th convenings, conferences or storytelling. The 19th does not provide relocation assistance for fellows.

Once fellows have been chosen for a particular track, they’ll need to stay in that track for the course of the year.

We ask that fellows commit to completing a full year in the fellowship. In the event that a fellow is unable to complete a full year due to unforeseen circumstances that arise during the year, we’ll consider deferring their fellowship spot to the following year as space and resources permit.

Travel is involved in some portions of the fellowship. Fellows typically attend four in-person retreats, including a midyear retreat in Philadelphia where program namesake Frances Ellen Watkins Harper once lived. There may also include travel for conferences and/or storytelling. Please note that all travel is optional. Accommodations for remote participation are available.

The fellowship duration is limited to one year. We cannot guarantee continued employment at The 19th after the fellowship year has concluded. Over the course of the fellowship, and as it draws closer to concluding, The 19th will provide assistance to all fellows in preparing for employment post-fellowship, including leveraging our networks to help fellows seek opportunities at places they’d like to work, and helping fellows with application and interview processes.

Because it would not set you up for success in fully participating in the fellowship, we require that you hold no other jobs except in extreme circumstances. This fellowship is a full-time role and includes a robust curriculum of career-based training as well as travel throughout the year to conferences, staff retreats and, potentially, for storytelling. It is our hope that fellows allow themselves the space to fully benefit from the fellowship, both as part of a team in their area of interest and learning in community with their cohort.

Applications that do not reflect HBCU attendance do not proceed to the review stage. Only recent graduates, mid-career alums and former students of Historically Black Colleges and Universities will be considered for The 19th’s Frances Ellen Watkins Harper Fellowships. Under the fellowship’s eligibility criteria, a Minority Serving Institution (MSI) is not considered an HBCU. We’re looking to expand the fellowship in the future, so please stay tuned for updates!

The way the fellowship program is funded requires that the funding be used to dedicate resources to HBCU alumni and former students with the goal of counteracting inequities in journalism.

You aren’t required to be a U.S. citizen or resident to be eligible for the fellowship. However, you must be legally authorized to work in the United States. This can include conditional student or work visas, provided that The 19th will not be required to take additional steps in sponsorship. In circumstances where we’re able to accept non-citizens or non-residents on conditional student visas, we’d require for tax purposes that the fellow reside in the U.S. and be able to be paid as a U.S. employee.

About Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

Born in Baltimore to free Black parents, Harper was a prolific writer and a correspondent for anti-slavery newspapers, including Frederick Douglass’ The Liberator. She was also a traveling abolitionist and orator who used the Underground Railroad to help people escape slavery. Over the course of her life, she was deeply and actively engaged in the women’s suffrage movement, breaking with the likes of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony over their unwillingness to prioritize the voting rights of Black men. She was the cofounder of the National Association of Colored Women.

Harper embodied The 19th’s asterisk — she was never once able to cast a ballot. But she did not let this disenfranchisement stifle her activism or her civic engagement.

She gave a famous speech at the 1866 National Women’s Rights Convention, “We Are All Bound Up Together,” in which she spoke bluntly about White women’s suffrage: “I do not believe that White women are dew-drops just exhaled from the skies. I think that like men they may be divided into three classes, the good, the bad and the indifferent … You White women speak here of rights. I speak of wrongs.”

Harper was one of the first Black women to be published in the United States: She was the first Black woman ever to have a short story published commercially, she was the most popular Black poet before Paul Laurence Dunbar (she published 80 poems), and her novel, “Iola Leroy,” was one of the first books published by a Black woman. The author was 67 when it debuted.

She also predated Rosa Parks in refusing, in 1858, to give up her seat or ride in the “colored” section of a segregated trolley car.

Harper was a friend and mentor to other Black writers and journalists, including Ida B. Wells. She died in 1911 in her adopted home of Philadelphia.