Local news fellowships will help fight newsroom inequities

“Community reporting fellowships will become increasingly important in diversifying newsrooms and strengthening local news ecosystems.”

In the next two years, I predict that community reporting fellowships will become increasingly important in diversifying newsrooms and strengthening local news ecosystems. As DEI efforts to diversify newsrooms stall, these fellowships will help journalists of color to gain experience and share stories that reflect their communities, while filling important information gaps.

Local news outlets are a vital part of civic and community life, particularly for people of color, who are more likely to trust local news organizations, feel connected to their primary news source, and depend on the media as a check on individuals in positions of power.

But despite this demand for and trust in local news, and despite recent diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts across the news industry, these communities remain underrepresented in U.S. newsrooms.

Here in New Jersey, the state’s largest news organizations, Gannett and N.J. Advance Media, have fallen short of promises to diversify newsrooms dominated by white men. Without the sustained intention and ability to not only recruit but also invest in and keep journalists of color on staff, DEI efforts, however well intended, will continue to be just that — efforts, not transformative accomplishments.

Such initiatives are commendable, especially given that the alternative is more of the status quo. Still, the solution to meeting community information needs and building local news outlets that are more reflective of the news audience also rests beyond the traditional newsroom in the wealth of stories, media savvy, and experiences of the communities covered.

As part of my work at the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University, I seek to connect with and support journalists, media professionals, and various stakeholders in New Jersey’s local news ecosystem. Part of this work involves championing DEI initiatives intended to open doors for more journalists of color and promote newsrooms that reflect diverse communities across age groups, races, gender, abilities, and ethnicities. But there’s also the opportunity to work outside of traditional channels to help support journalists and storytellers, particularly those who live in communities identified as news deserts.

In the past year, my work with the South Jersey Information Equity Project has afforded me a better understanding of the local news landscape. I’ve also had the pleasure of working with emerging journalists and storytellers to build media skills while sharing community-driven, restorative narratives often neglected by mainstream media. The experience has convinced me that local news fellowships like SJIEP will continue to emerge as a powerful tool against newsroom inequity and information gaps (or misrepresentation) in communities of color, particularly those in regions with limited sources of local news and information.

The Center launched SJIEP in partnership with the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists in 2019 to help increase the quality and quantity of local news and information produced by and for communities of color in New Jersey, primarily in Camden, Burlington, and Gloucester Counties. We hosted SJIEP’s first fellowship cohort this year to build community support, recruit local reporters, target information gaps in South Jersey, and specifically support Black media makers by connecting them with resources, funding, and platforms.

We worked with four gifted and highly motivated storytellers, all early-career professionals with varying levels of media and journalism training, to produce stories on topics ranging from community policing to youth development, health services, and thriving entrepreneurship in a pandemic economy. The fellowship included hands-on training, co-editing sessions, networking opportunities with veteran journalists based in South Jersey, and, early on, the chance for direct input from the community through a series of convenings. We also worked with media outlets dedicated to covering communities of color in South Jersey to co-publish the fellows’ stories.

Next year, we’ll expand the program with a new cohort of fellows and a new roster of media trainings, career development workshops, and a dedicated mentorship track. With each iteration of the SJIEP fellowship, we strive to build on our investment in journalists of color and, by extension, the communities they belong to, the neighborhoods they represent, and the people they serve.

Relatively speaking, it’s a drop in the ocean when confronting the historic societal inequities and injustices that have played out in the media and harmed communities of color.

Still, such fellowships provide the training that equips more storytellers and journalists to tell our stories in spaces that are just as important, if outside of traditional newsrooms.

Cassandra Etienne is the assistant director for membership and programming at the Center for Cooperative Media.

In the next two years, I predict that community reporting fellowships will become increasingly important in diversifying newsrooms and strengthening local news ecosystems. As DEI efforts to diversify newsrooms stall, these fellowships will help journalists of color to gain experience and share stories that reflect their communities, while filling important information gaps.

Local news outlets are a vital part of civic and community life, particularly for people of color, who are more likely to trust local news organizations, feel connected to their primary news source, and depend on the media as a check on individuals in positions of power.

But despite this demand for and trust in local news, and despite recent diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts across the news industry, these communities remain underrepresented in U.S. newsrooms.

Here in New Jersey, the state’s largest news organizations, Gannett and N.J. Advance Media, have fallen short of promises to diversify newsrooms dominated by white men. Without the sustained intention and ability to not only recruit but also invest in and keep journalists of color on staff, DEI efforts, however well intended, will continue to be just that — efforts, not transformative accomplishments.

Such initiatives are commendable, especially given that the alternative is more of the status quo. Still, the solution to meeting community information needs and building local news outlets that are more reflective of the news audience also rests beyond the traditional newsroom in the wealth of stories, media savvy, and experiences of the communities covered.

As part of my work at the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University, I seek to connect with and support journalists, media professionals, and various stakeholders in New Jersey’s local news ecosystem. Part of this work involves championing DEI initiatives intended to open doors for more journalists of color and promote newsrooms that reflect diverse communities across age groups, races, gender, abilities, and ethnicities. But there’s also the opportunity to work outside of traditional channels to help support journalists and storytellers, particularly those who live in communities identified as news deserts.

In the past year, my work with the South Jersey Information Equity Project has afforded me a better understanding of the local news landscape. I’ve also had the pleasure of working with emerging journalists and storytellers to build media skills while sharing community-driven, restorative narratives often neglected by mainstream media. The experience has convinced me that local news fellowships like SJIEP will continue to emerge as a powerful tool against newsroom inequity and information gaps (or misrepresentation) in communities of color, particularly those in regions with limited sources of local news and information.

The Center launched SJIEP in partnership with the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists in 2019 to help increase the quality and quantity of local news and information produced by and for communities of color in New Jersey, primarily in Camden, Burlington, and Gloucester Counties. We hosted SJIEP’s first fellowship cohort this year to build community support, recruit local reporters, target information gaps in South Jersey, and specifically support Black media makers by connecting them with resources, funding, and platforms.

We worked with four gifted and highly motivated storytellers, all early-career professionals with varying levels of media and journalism training, to produce stories on topics ranging from community policing to youth development, health services, and thriving entrepreneurship in a pandemic economy. The fellowship included hands-on training, co-editing sessions, networking opportunities with veteran journalists based in South Jersey, and, early on, the chance for direct input from the community through a series of convenings. We also worked with media outlets dedicated to covering communities of color in South Jersey to co-publish the fellows’ stories.

Next year, we’ll expand the program with a new cohort of fellows and a new roster of media trainings, career development workshops, and a dedicated mentorship track. With each iteration of the SJIEP fellowship, we strive to build on our investment in journalists of color and, by extension, the communities they belong to, the neighborhoods they represent, and the people they serve.

Relatively speaking, it’s a drop in the ocean when confronting the historic societal inequities and injustices that have played out in the media and harmed communities of color.

Still, such fellowships provide the training that equips more storytellers and journalists to tell our stories in spaces that are just as important, if outside of traditional newsrooms.

Cassandra Etienne is the assistant director for membership and programming at the Center for Cooperative Media.

Wilson Liévano   Diaspora journalism takes the next step

Ryan Gantz   “I’m sorry, but I’m a large language model”

Ariel Zirulnick   Journalism doubles down on user needs

Stefanie Murray   The year U.S. media stops screwing around and becomes pro-democracy

David Cohn   AI made this prediction

Emma Carew Grovum   The year to resist forgetting about diversity

Jacob L. Nelson   Despite it all, people will still want to be journalists

Dominic-Madori Davis   Everyone finally realizes the need for diverse voices in tech reporting

Burt Herman   The year AI truly arrives — and with it the reckoning

Brian Stelter   Finding new ways to reach news avoiders

Cassandra Etienne   Local news fellowships will help fight newsroom inequities

Jonas Kaiser   Rejecting the “free speech” frame

Sue Cross   Thinking and acting collectively to save the news

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Well-being will become a core tenet of journalism

Tamar Charney   Flux is the new stability

Daniel Trielli   Trust in news will continue to fall. Just look at Brazil.

Alan Henry   A reckoning with why trust in news is so low

Doris Truong   Workers demand to be paid what the job is worth

Priyanjana Bengani   Partisan local news networks will collaborate

Kaitlyn Wells   We’ll prioritize media literacy for children

Errin Haines   Journalists on the campaign trail mend trust with the public

Cory Bergman   The AI content flood

Mar Cabra   The inevitable mental health revolution

Amethyst J. Davis   The slight of the great contraction

Eric Thurm   Journalists think of themselves as workers

Mael Vallejo   More threats to press freedom across the Americas

Emily Nonko   Incarcerated reporters get more bylines

Julia Beizer   News fatigue shows us a clear path forward

Janet Haven   ChatGPT and the future of trust 

Ben Werdmuller   The internet is up for grabs again

Joanne McNeil   Facebook and the media kiss and make up

Ståle Grut   Your newsroom experiences a Midjourney-gate, too

Nikki Usher   This is the year of the RSS reader. (Really!)

J. Siguru Wahutu   American journalism reckons with its colonialist tendencies

Kaitlin C. Miller   Harassment in journalism won’t get better, but we’ll talk about it more openly

David Skok   Renewed interest in human-powered reporting

Larry Ryckman   We’ll work together with our competitors

Raney Aronson-Rath   Journalists will band together to fight intimidation

Sam Guzik   AI will start fact-checking. We may not like the results.

Eric Holthaus   As social media fragments, marginalized voices gain more power

Sam Gregory   Synthetic media forces us to understand how media gets made

Cindy Royal   Yes, journalists should learn to code, but…

Sue Schardt   Toward a new poetics of journalism

Eric Nuzum   A focus on people instead of power

Sarah Stonbely   Growth in public funding for news and information at the state and local levels

Anika Anand   Independent news businesses lead the way on healthy work cultures

Richard Tofel   The press might get better at vetting presidential candidates

Matt Rasnic   More newsroom workers turn to organized labor

Josh Schwartz   The AI spammers are coming

Jessica Maddox   Journalists keep getting manipulated by internet culture

Laura E. Davis   The year we embrace the robots — and ourselves

Parker Molloy   We’ll reach new heights of moral panic

Jennifer Brandel   AI couldn’t care less. Journalists will care more. 

Khushbu Shah   Global reporting will suffer

Alex Perry   New paths to transparency without Twitter

Bill Grueskin   Local news will come to rely on AI

Jessica Clark   Open discourse retrenches

Andrew Losowsky   Journalism realizes the replacement for Twitter is not a new Twitter

Christina Shih   Shared values move from nice-to-haves to essentials

Masuma Ahuja   Journalism starts working for and with its communities

Pia Frey   Publishers start polling their users at scale

Francesco Zaffarano   There is no end of “social media”

Christoph Mergerson   The rot at the core of the news business

Jim VandeHei   There is no “peak newsletter”

Shanté Cosme   The answer to “quiet quitting” is radical empathy

Megan Lucero and Shirish Kulkarni   The future of journalism is not you

Walter Frick   Journalists wake up to the power of prediction markets

Peter Sterne   AI enters the newsroom

Ryan Nave   Citizen journalism, but make it equitable

Anthony Nadler   Confronting media gerrymandering

Basile Simon   Towards supporting criminal accountability

Leezel Tanglao   Community partnerships drive better reporting

Victor Pickard   The year journalism and capitalism finally divorce

Jakob Moll   Journalism startups will think beyond English

S. Mitra Kalita   “Everything sucks. Good luck to you.”

Mauricio Cabrera   It’s no longer about audiences, it’s about communities

Eric Ulken   Generative AI brings wrongness at scale

Alex Sujong Laughlin   Credit where it’s due

Elite Truong   In platform collapse, an opportunity for community

Nicholas Diakopoulos   Journalists productively harness generative AI tools

Jesse Holcomb   Buffeted, whipped, bullied, pulled

Sarah Alvarez   Dream bigger or lose out

Nicholas Thompson   The year AI actually changes the media business

Ryan Kellett   Airline-like loyalty programs try to tie down news readers

Rachel Glickhouse   Humanizing newsrooms will be a badge of honor

Sarabeth Berman   Nonprofit local news shows that it can scale

Gordon Crovitz   The year advertisers stop funding misinformation

Snigdha Sur   Newsrooms get nimble in a recession

Jarrad Henderson   Video editing will help people understand the media they consume

Mary Walter-Brown and Tristan Loper   Mission-driven metrics become our North Star

Tre'vell Anderson   Continued culpability in anti-trans campaigns

Molly de Aguiar and Mandy Van Deven   Narrative change trend brings new money to journalism

Johannes Klingebiel   The innovation team, R.I.P.

Jim Friedlich   Local journalism steps up to the challenge of civic coverage

Dannagal G. Young   Stop rewarding elite performances of identity threat

Alexandra Svokos   Working harder to reach audiences where they are

Joshua P. Darr   Local to live, wire to wither

Janelle Salanga   Journalists work from a place of harm reduction

Zizi Papacharissi   Platforms are over

Danielle K. Brown and Kathleen Searles   DEI efforts must consider mental health and online abuse

Michael W. Wagner   The backlash against pro-democracy reporting is coming

Susan Chira   Equipping local journalism

Julia Angwin   Democracies will get serious about saving journalism

Kavya Sukumar   Belling the cat: The rise of independent fact-checking at scale

Anna Nirmala   News organizations get new structures

An Xiao Mina   Journalism in a time of permacrisis

Jody Brannon   We’ll embrace policy remedies

Simon Galperin   Philanthropy stops investing in corporate media

Don Day   The news about the news is bad. I’m optimistic.

Paul Cheung   More news organizations will realize they are in the business of impact, not eyeballs

Lisa Heyamoto   The independent news industry gets a roadmap to sustainability

Ayala Panievsky   It’s time for PR for journalism

Brian Moritz   Rebuilding the news bundle

Surya Mattu   Data journalists learn from photojournalists

Alexandra Borchardt   The year of the climate journalism strategy

Juleyka Lantigua   Newsrooms recognize women of color as the canaries in the coal mine

Kirstin McCudden   We’ll codify protection of journalism and newsgathering

Mario García   More newsrooms go mobile-first

Joni Deutsch   Podcast collaboration — not competition — breeds excellence

Sumi Aggarwal   Smart newsrooms will prioritize board development

Joe Amditis   AI throws a lifeline to local publishers

Jaden Amos   TikTok personality journalists continue to rise

Kathy Lu   We need emotionally agile newsroom leaders

Rodney Gibbs   Recalibrating how we work apart

Elizabeth Bramson-Boudreau   More of the same

Delano Massey   The industry shakes its imposter syndrome

Jennifer Choi and Jonathan Jackson   Funders finally bet on next-generation news entrepreneurs

Esther Kezia Thorpe   Subscription pressures force product innovation

Nicholas Jackson   There will be launches — and we’ll keep doing the work

Andrew Donohue   We’ll find out whether journalism can, indeed, save democracy

Hillary Frey   Death to the labor-intensive memo for prospective hires

Anita Varma   Journalism prioritizes the basic need for survival

Sue Robinson   Engagement journalism will have to confront a tougher reality

Jenna Weiss-Berman   The economic downturn benefits the podcasting industry. (No, really!)

John Davidow   A year of intergenerational learning

Sarah Marshall   A web channel strategy won’t be enough

Peter Bale   Rising costs force more digital innovation

Mariana Moura Santos   A woman who speaks is a woman who changes the world

Felicitas Carrique and Becca Aaronson   News product goes from trend to standard

Laxmi Parthasarathy   Unlocking the silent demand for international journalism

Dana Lacey   Tech will screw publishers over

Martina Efeyini   Talk to Gen Z. They’re the experts of Gen Z.

Michael Schudson   Journalism gets more and more difficult

Amy Schmitz Weiss   Journalism education faces a crossroads

Bill Adair   The year of the fact-check (no, really!)

Moreno Cruz Osório   Brazilian journalism turns wounds into action

Cari Nazeer and Emily Goligoski   News organizations step up their support for caregivers

Kerri Hoffman   Podcasting goes local

Upasna Gautam   Technology that performs at the speed of news

Gabe Schneider   Well-funded journalism leaders stop making disparate pay

Al Lucca   Digital news design gets interesting again

Tim Carmody   Newsletter writers need a new ethics

Gina Chua   The traditional story structure gets deconstructed

Barbara Raab   More journalism funders will take more risks

Taylor Lorenz   The “creator economy” will be astroturfed

A.J. Bauer   Covering the right wrong

Karina Montoya   More reporters on the antitrust beat