Nieman Foundation at Harvard
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Sept. 5, 2023, 8 a.m.

Nieman Lab is expanding! Come work with us

Nieman Lab is adding two new staff writer positions: One focused on local news, the other on the intersection of generative AI and journalism.

Nieman Lab is expanding, and that warrants an exclamation point in a headline and two in the body of the post! We are dedicating two full-time positions to what we believe are the most interesting areas in journalism today: Local news, and generative AI-meets-journalism.

Sophie Culpepper is stepping up into the position of local news reporter. Sophie, who joined us in April from the hyperlocal site The Lexington Observer, will now focus on local journalism in the United States. “I’m thrilled to be shifting my full-time focus to local news for Nieman Lab,” she told me (in a quote I made her write for this, obviously). “Coming from a hyperlocal news background, I know firsthand how grueling, rewarding, and vitally important robust local reporting is for healthy communities and a healthy democracy. I will do everything I can to build on Nieman Lab’s previous coverage and use our platform to spotlight and scrutinize useful developments and conversations around strengthening and sustaining local news today.”

With Sophie’s move, we have an open position for a new staff writer. We’re looking for somebody who is genuinely interested in the future of news and journalism online, and who also sees this beat as a wide-ranging opportunity. Many of my favorite stories Nieman Lab has ever published don’t fall precisely into any one beat, and our ideal candidate will approach the work with openness and creativity.

We are also hiring a staff writer to cover the intersection of journalism with generative AI. We hope this writer will set the standard for smart, authoritative, and skeptical-when-warranted coverage of the ways technologies like ChatGPT and DALL-E are affecting the news industry.

“These reporting initiatives are vital to our work explaining the most consequential journalism developments of our time,” said Ann Marie Lipinski, curator of Harvard’s Nieman Foundation for Journalism. “We hope our expanded research and coverage will help guide the industry to improve the health of local journalism and decision making about content generated through artificial intelligence.”

Nieman Lab turns 15 this year. Our two new staff writers will join deputy editor Sarah Scire, senior writer and Lab founder Josh Benton, staff writer Hanaa’ Tameez, the aforementioned Sophie Culpepper, and me. The positions can be remote in the states where Harvard allows it, and you will be a Harvard employee with all of the excellent benefits that entails. We are based out of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism. Our sister publications are Nieman Reports, which focuses on elevating global standards of journalism, thought leadership, and a free press, and Nieman Storyboard, which showcases quality nonfiction storytelling.

The link to apply to the the generative AI staff writer position is here, and the link for the general staff writer position is here. If you’re interested, please apply directly through those links; I’m not able to consider anyone who doesn’t go through the official HR process. Additionally, an FAQ about the positions — which I’ll be updating as needed — is below.

Can these positions be remote?

Yes, the positions are listed as remote because that allows us to consider the widest possible range of candidates. We can consider folks who are located in or willing to move to states for which Harvard has a registered paywall: Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. (Because these are union positions, we can’t consider candidates in California; according to local requirements, only exempt employees may be put on the California payroll.)

One thing worth noting, though, is that when you work at Nieman Journalism Lab, you’re a part of the broader community of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism. This means in-person events going on at Lippmann House, amazing fellows to meet, and interesting things to do and talks to attend and libraries to visit all around Harvard. The non-remote members of our team are currently going into the office two days a week. We still use Slack as our primary communication hub, and after three years of Covid disruption I like to think we’re WFH pros.

What’s the salary?

The salary range for the the general staff writer position is $68,000 to $72,000, dependent on experience. The salary range for the generative AI staff position is $72,000 to $76,000 — a bit higher than the general staff writer position because it requires more experience.

The generative AI job posting is listed as a term position, why?

The generative AI job posting is currently listed as a three-year term position because right now that’s how we’ve budgeted it. I hope that this person will stay with us for longer than three years.

What kind of experience are you looking for?

We’re looking for writers who are genuinely interested in the future of news and journalism online, but who also see these beat as a wide-ranging opportunity. Today, writing about digital media = writing about life on the internet = writing about real life, and many of the challenges confronting journalism are reflective of broader societal rifts. We’re looking for people who approach these beats with deep curiosity and openness, who are skeptical and tough when warranted but who are also fundamentally optimistic about innovation in digital journalism and want to play a part in making this industry better and more sustainable.

We’re also looking for people who have at least two years of experience working in journalism; we will consider student journalism experience. For the generative AI position, a background in tech journalism is a plus. Here are some things that great Nieman Lab reporters have in common:

— You chase down what’s actually going on behind that press release. You dig. You call people and text people and DM people and email people to get a full story and make sure you understand what is going on.
— You get obsessed and passionate; you recognize that being an expert on small things helps you see the patterns behind big things.
— You recognize when something is PR speak or a lot of words with not much behind them.
— You are empathetic. You may be able to write brutal takedowns when necessary, but you also understand that most of the time, the people we are writing about are human people with good intentions, trying to make journalism better. There are many terrible ideas in the world, but for the most part, we want to focus on the new things and good ideas.
— You read a lot — a lot of news and a lot of other stuff.

I have [X personal thing] in my life. I get work done at weird hours. I have to go pick up my kids at daycare. Should I apply?

If you think you might be good at this job, please apply. Our team has a wide variety of outside interests and family commitments of various types. We are looking for somebody who is a self-starter and excellent at managing their own time and meeting the deadlines of a daily publishing schedule. You should also be excellent at communicating with members of our team on Slack, it’s the primary place we hang out. In return, we trust you to have your own life and largely get things done at the times that work for you. I have three young children, one of whom was born right at the start of Covid, and am MASSIVELY SYMPATHETIC to the dumpsterfire jugglebus that is caretaking in America. We will work it out.

What is it like working for Harvard?

The benefits are a darn dream. You can sift through all of them here, but to give you an idea:

— Paid Time Off: 3-4 weeks of accrued vacation time per year (3 weeks for support staff and 4 weeks for administrative/professional staff), 12 accrued sick days per year, 12.5 holidays plus a “winter recess” between Christmas and New Year’s that doesn’t count as vacation days; 3 personal days per year (prorated based on date of hire), and up to 12 weeks of paid leave for new parents who are primary care givers.
— Health and welfare: Comprehensive medical, dental, and vision benefits, disability and life insurance programs, along with voluntary benefits. Most coverage begins as of your start date.
— Work/life and wellness: Child and elder/adult care resources including backup care, Employee Assistance Program, and wellness programs related to stress management, nutrition, meditation, and more.
— Retirement: University-funded retirement plan with contributions from 5% to 15% of eligible compensation, based on age and earnings with full vesting after 3 years of service.
— Tuition Assistance Program: Competitive program including $40 per class at the Harvard Extension School and reduced tuition through other participating Harvard graduate schools.
— Tuition Reimbursement: Program that provides 75% to 90% reimbursement up to $5,250 per calendar year for eligible courses taken at other accredited institutions.
— Professional Development: Programs and classes at little or no cost, including through the Harvard Center for Workplace Development and LinkedIn Learning.
— Commuting and Transportation: Various commuter options handled through the Parking Office, including discounted parking, half-priced public transportation passes and pre-tax transit passes, biking benefits, and more.
— Harvard Facilities Access, Discounts and Perks: Access to Harvard athletic and fitness facilities, libraries, campus events, credit union, and more, as well as discounts to various types of services (legal, financial, etc.) and cultural and leisure activities throughout metro-Boston.

more coming!

Laura Hazard Owen is the editor of Nieman Lab. You can reach her via email ( or Twitter DM (@laurahazardowen).
POSTED     Sept. 5, 2023, 8 a.m.
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