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Nov. 20, 2014, 10 a.m.

It’s time to apply for a Nieman Fellowship

It’s a chance to spend a year at Harvard strengthening both journalism and yourself. Application deadlines are approaching soon.

I’m not one for ranking life experiences like sports teams, but here’s something you hear a lot from Nieman Fellow alumni: “It was the best year of my life.” If that prospect appeals and you have thoughts about how a year at Harvard University could strengthen you and journalism, you’re reading the right story.

For more than 75 years, the Nieman Foundation has brought fellows to Cambridge for a year of study and exploration that has seeded some of the most remarkable journalism of the century. Our fellows have come from nearly 100 different countries and every medium, all of them searching for knowledge and challenges that would advance their work. Our alumni now range from Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Robert Caro to Pulitzer Prize-winning legal columnist Anthony Lewis; from pioneering newspaper editors Robert Maynard and Geneva Overholser to new media creators Hong Qu of Upworthy and YouTube and Laura Amico of Homicide Watch; from Nigeria’s courageous Sunday Dare to I. Roberto Eisenmann Jr., co-founder of Panama’s crusading La Prensa; from Ecuadorian photographer Pablo Corral Vega to American cartoonist Doug Marlette.

There is no prototypical Nieman fellow, as is clear from the bios of our current class. The 24 — half Americans, half international — have a remarkably diverse industry pedigree. Their work has taken them to The Wall Street Journal and Boing Boing, the Los Angeles Times and the New Haven Independent, NPR and Cuba’s blogosphere, an online investigative startup in Serbia and The Washington Post, a Kentucky public radio station and CNN. Some fellows are at the nascent stages of their careers, others are senior newsroom leaders. They have in common a passion for journalism and have brought to Harvard an exciting set of questions they are exploring individually and as a class. And, yes, a mere three months into their work, some have already declared it the best year of their lives.

We now start the process that will lead us to next year’s class of fellows. That begins with the applications, and the deadlines are nigh:

  • International Nieman candidates need to submit their applications by December 1, 2014.
  • December 1 is also the deadline for applicants for the Nieman-Berkman fellowship.
  • If you are an American citizen applying for a Nieman, January 31, 2015 is your deadline.

The Nieman Foundation website has lots of information about how to apply along with the online application, and more background about our types of fellowships, including the Nieman-Berkman Fellowship in Journalism Innovation. For those who want to know more about what a fellow does at Harvard, the program at a glance is very helpful. If you still have questions about the program or the application requirements, our fellowship administrator John Breen is patient and smart and happy to help.

Over the coming months, we will choose a group of finalists and all of them will be interviewed. Joining me for those interviews will be an evolving group of Nieman and Berkman Center colleagues along with others from the Harvard and journalism communities. Last year that group included Harvard Business School professor Rohit Deshpande, and Nieman Fellow alumni Jane Spencer, digital editor-in-chief of Fusion, and David Skok, digital adviser at The Boston Globe.

My own Nieman year was transformative and prepared me for a journalistic future I had not yet opened my eyes to. To now help others realize the previously unimagined is the joy and promise of every new class, including the one we choose next. I look forward to reading your applications.

POSTED     Nov. 20, 2014, 10 a.m.
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