UC Berkeley J-School Announces Competition for Two Investigative Reporting Fellowships

Great fellowship opportunity at my alma mater. Deadline April 25. Details below.


J-School Announces Competition for Two Investigative Reporting Fellowships
From the Graduate School of Journalism | March 1, 2011

BERKELEY – To help develop a new generation of investigative reporters in an era of cutbacks at major news organizations, UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism today announced a call for entries for its fifth-annual competition for yearlong fellowships in investigative reporting. Two fellowships will be awarded in June.

The fellowships are open to all working investigative journalists, but preference will be given to graduates of UC Berkeley’s master’s program in journalism. A strong track record of successfully reporting on complex subjects in the public interest is required.

Applicants will be chosen based on their qualifications, their proposed area of investigation and the strength of references. Candidates must have strong organizational skills as well as the ability to self-motivate and work both productively and independently in a congenial newsroom environment. Story proposals should involve subjects under-reported by traditional news organizations. Proposals may include print, broadcast and multimedia components.

This year’s fellowships are made possible by core grants from the Sandler Foundation and the Hellman Foundation along with donations from Scott and Jennifer Fearon, The Financial Times and Jerome and Hillary Simon.

“Forty years ago, when I got into the business of reporting, I dreamed that I would find a place, a paper, a school that would let me pursue a story without fear or favor wherever it led,” said Logan Professor Lowell Bergman, the director of the Investigative Reporting Program.

“Today, I have the privilege to able to raise and disperse funds to do that for a new generation dedicated to reporting in the public interest. These fellowships, I am proud to say, have been a great success for the participants and for me. They have opened me up to new stories and new ways of doing them in the digital age. And they have allowed me, and the others involved in the IRP to share our sources, our ‘tricks of the trade’ and the hard lessons that have come from decades in the business,” Bergman said.

Winners of the 2010-2011 fellowships were Trevor Aaronson and Lee Wang, a 2006 graduate of the journalism school. Mr. Aaronson was formerly a reporter for the Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tennessee, and a staff writer for Village Voice Media in Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Ms. Wang, a documentary filmmaker, has worked for PBS’ “Frontline” and “Frontline/World”, MSNBC and Newsweek.

Mr. Aaronson’s project on sources in federal criminal investigations will run as a cover story for a national magazine in collaboration with a major broadcaster, and will air on television and radio this fall.

“By providing a year to carry out a deep investigation, the Fellowship is one of the best jobs in journalism,” says Aaronson. “Lowell knows how to identify the untold stories and how to tell those difficult stories with authority across platforms.”

Lee Wang, developing a broadcast investigation of the secret world of immigration courts says, “Working with IRP is not only an opportunity to dig deep into a subject, free of the ‘bottom line’. It’s a chance to be part of a unique community of thoughtful and tenacious journalists committed to the craft of investigative storytelling,” Wang says.

The IRP also occasionally awards grants to support journalists not selected for the fellowships. Applicants will be notified if they have been placed in a special category for consideration for one of these grants.

Tim McGirk, a veteran investigative reporter and former Time magazine bureau chief and graduate of UC Berkeley; cinematographer Zachary Stauffer, a 2008 graduate of the journalism school; and veteran print reporter Matt Isaacs, a 1999 graduate of the school were the applicants chosen to receive project-specific funding last year.

Mr. McGirk is currently contributing reporting to a PBS Frontline documentary on Afghanistan, and continues his investigation of intelligence gathering in South Asia for publication and broadcast this fall.

“The IRP is like a fantastic laboratory for stories,” McGirk says. “It gives you all the tools you need, contacts, technical know-how and sage advice, that enable you to experiment with different forms of storytelling. I wanted to try switching from print to making documentaries, and IRP has given me an invaluable assist in making that giant leap.”

Matt Isaacs continues his groundbreaking investigations into corruption in China in collaboration with Reuters, and is in preliminary development of both a documentary and a book. “At this point, I’ve gone beyond the deep-dive of reporting into entirely uncharted water; moving into books and television and developing material that actually leads to criminal investigations,” Isaacs said.

“I’ve never worked in a more supportive environment,” says Isaacs. “This is more than an opportunity to keep doing meaningful journalism. It’s a chance to get on board where the industry is going.”

Mr. Stauffer is working as a cinematographer and producer for the IRP. He served as director of photography for the PBS FRONTLINE documentaries “Post-Mortem: Death Investigation in America” and “The Card Game” and is currently in production on a film on college sports. He was also principal cameraman for the PBS NewsHour segment “Checkpoints.”

Stauffer says the IRP is a great example of what happens when hard-working, talented people get together.  “It’s been integral to my career development.  I’m constantly being pushed by the talented reporters around me and am able to produce better stories as a result.”

Additionally, Katie Galloway, a producer and Berkeley alum that received project-based funding in 2009 has received ongoing support and editing facilities for her production team as our Filmmaker in Residence. Ms. Galloway’s feature documentary “Better This World” on a domestic terrorism case will premiere at the SXSW Film Festival in March. The film will also air on P.O.V. on PBS nationwide later this year.

Fellowship Terms

Fellows will be employees of the University with an annual salary of $51,000 and are eligible for full UC benefits. Office space, basic expenses and up to $10,000 in funds for approved travel provided. No housing or relocation supplements provided. Fellows must refrain from outside journalistic projects, and to use the Berkeley offices as their base of operations.

Application Requirements (Please note applications will only be accepted via email)

·        Current resume or CV.

·        One-page cover letter.

·        Two-page memo outlining your proposed project and reporting strategy.

·        Two-page memo summarizing media coverage of your subject area over the last five years in print and broadcast and how you would advance the subject, if applicable.

·        Three letters of reference from current/recent supervisors, be they journalists or academics, on company letterhead, mailed to the attention of Professor Lowell Bergman. These letters should speak to your capabilities, potential and character. Emails will not be accepted.

·      Three work samples. For print/web samples, attach them as PDFs to your submission. For broadcast, include URLs for samples in your cover letter. Do not mail DVDs of broadcast samples unless links are unavailable.

·        One-page estimated travel/expense budget.

·        Note, proposals submitted in previous years’ competitions will not be considered.

The deadline for the academic year 2011-2012 is midnight on Monday, April 25. The yearlong tenure begins in September.

The Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley
2481 Hearst Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94709
Questions and proposals may be emailed to: fellowapplicant@berkeley.edu

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