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Sept. 27, 2021, 4:43 p.m.
LINK: www.nytco.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Joshua Benton   |   September 27, 2021

How do you discover talented new journalists and prepare them for the big reporting and editing jobs of the future? An eternal question even before the news media’s diversity issues went from “longstanding problem” to “industry crisis.” The New York Times is changing one of its major pathways to the newsroom, and it’s picked a military metaphor:

The New York Times is launching a first-of-its-kind talent pipeline program for early-college students to receive career guidance from Times journalists over a multiyear period…

The program, named The New York Times Corps, will pair college freshmen, sophomores and some juniors who aspire to have journalism careers with Times journalists. Students will talk with their advisers perhaps two or three times a year, up to the duration of students’ undergraduate careers. Those conversations will focus specifically on career-building advice. Occasional speakers, training and activities will punctuate the experience.

Students who complete the program will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City, where they will tour the newsroom and meet Times journalists in person. The best-performing Times Corps members, after they graduate, also may receive consideration for The New York Times Fellowship, an immersive, yearlong work program.

The Times Corps will specifically target students based in the United States from underrepresented groups, such as students of color and/or students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The program is replacing the Student Journalism Institute, our two-week annual boot camp, which finishes a successful nearly 20-year run supporting students of color.

They’re explicit about wanting the Corps to benefit “not only the participants and The Times, but other newsrooms.” (After all, it won’t hire the whole Corps.) Class size will start at 25, but could grow; applications will open next spring.

European and Asian newsrooms have long had more concrete talent-development systems — actual outlet-owned schools in some cases — than their American peers. For generations, the Times could simply treat smaller metro newspapers as their minor leagues, but their decline has meant more staffers entering via other routes. (Counting on metro newspapers also means, at least to an extent, counting on their own hiring practices building the pool your draw from — so their diversity problems becomes yours, too.)

All that said, a program focused on identifying talented college freshmen and sophomores has its own limitations. Recent graduates, career switchers, and young people who aren’t enrolled in college won’t be caught by this net. But at least you can always build more nets.

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