Nieman Foundation at Harvard
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July 18, 2017, 8:30 a.m.

It’s time to apply for a Knight Visiting Nieman Fellowship

The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard wants to hear your idea for making journalism better. Come spend a few weeks working on it in Cambridge. Deadline: September 29.

How would you finish this sentence? Journalism has never been more _______.

If you answered essential or exciting or precarious or imperiled — and have ideas for how to make it more of the first two or less of the last — you may be a candidate to join our next group of Knight Visiting Nieman Fellows. We are looking for ideas to advance journalism — ideas that would be helped by up to 12 weeks of project work here on Harvard’s campus. We’ll be accepting applications through September 29, which you can submit online.

In nearly six years of supporting visiting fellows, we’ve embraced an exciting array of innovative ideas and journalism influencers. We’ve welcomed editors and academics, reporters and developers, veterans and junior practitioners. Fellows have come from the U.S. and abroad, including India, Egypt, South Africa, Mexico, and throughout Europe. Recent fellows have included:

  • Sandra Barrón Ramirez, product designer at Borde Político and Transparencia Mexicana, who worked on constructing a central index for the disappeared and missing in Mexico, data that will help journalists.
  • Trushar Barot, London-based mobile editor for the BBC World Service, who researched AI assistants, a project that included a convening of news and tech industry leaders to share developments in voice AI.
  • David Barboza, a reporter for The New York Times, who is creating a business and financial database of Chinese companies to aid investigative journalism in China.
  • His colleague Nina Lassam, director of ad product at the Times, who studied how to foster greater participation in comments and distributed news content, with a focus on more engagement among female readers.
  • Raheel Khursheed, Twitter’s head of news partnerships for India and Southeast Asia, who examined micropayments for news content.

Many of our visiting fellows’ have made their resulting work public, which we hope further encourages innovation in journalism. Futurist Amy Webb published a Nieman ebook on her proposal for rewriting the future for journalism schools. Jack Riley came as a visiting fellow from The Huffington Post U.K. to study the future for news on wearables, and wrote about his findings for Nieman Lab. Tara Pixley, an independent photojournalist and photo editor, authored this cover story for Nieman Reports about the importance of diversifying news imagery and the ranks of visual journalists, the subject of her visiting fellowship.

Along with her excellent report on an alternative vision for public radio membership, visiting fellow Melody Kramer created something even more valuable for visiting fellowship applicants: a short video about her proposal, her application, her interview, and how she approached her eight weeks at Harvard. In reflecting on her advice, one additional question to consider is whether your goals would be best met by this project-based fellowship or by our year-long Nieman Fellowship, an opportunity for broader inquiry and professional development. A couple of visiting fellows discovered that their ambitions were grander than their brief time on campus allowed and wished they had applied for the full academic year. (Applications for that fellowship are due December 1 for international journalists and January 31 for U.S. applicants.)

I recently met with Nieman colleagues to review the status of the visiting fellowships and they all underscored the importance of two fundamentals: first, a focused project is better than a broad one; second, plan ahead. Whether you come to campus for two weeks or 12, the time will go quickly. You are unlikely to complete your interviews and research if you don’t narrow them to what’s achievable and identify important campus and Cambridge-area resources before arriving — including those at the Nieman Foundation.

We’re bullish on journalism at Nieman, and know its future depends on innovation. These visiting fellowships are one way we invest in that future. If you have questions, please contact us at We’re eager to read your proposals.

Ann Marie Lipinski is curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard.

POSTED     July 18, 2017, 8:30 a.m.
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