The Pulitzer Center’s StoryReach U.S. reporting and engagement lab seeks newsroom partners who value collaboration and audience engagement as much as powerful enterprise reporting. This is a chance to innovate with your peers and the Center’s team on high-impact projects that combine breakthrough reporting and effective public outreach.

Applications for the StoryReach U.S. reporting Fellowships are open and due by March 3, 2024, at 11:59pm PST. Submit your application here.

OVERVIEW

The Pulitzer Center is now accepting applications for its new StoryReach U.S. lab. The yearlong Fellowship opportunity is a chance for forward-thinking journalists and local and regional newsrooms to collaborate with peers and the Center’s staff to unlock the full potential of storytelling and innovative audience reach.

The initiative is a response to the challenges facing local and regional outlets across the United States, including the rise in misinformation and erosion of trust in media. At the same time, we are inspired by so many local outlets that are placing audiences at the center of their editorial strategies and finding creative ways to engage with them beyond publication and political bubbles.

StoryReach U.S. was created as a laboratory of innovative thinking and best practices for deep reporting and public outreach to engage communities across the United States on important issues that affect them. We will encourage the Fellows to share lessons learned so they can serve as blueprints for other journalists across the country focused on adapting to changing media consumption habits, exploring monetization opportunities, measuring impact, and discovering new audiences.

This spring, we will launch a cohort of eight to 10 Fellows who are partnered with local or regional U.S. news outlets. Freelance and staff reporters are eligible as long as they provide a sponsorship letter from a partner newsroom in their application. The part-time, yearlong Fellowship is designed for reporters from all beats, desks, and media formats. The ideal candidate will have at least three years of experience with ambitious investigative or enterprise reporting projects. The ideal candidate will also possess some experience with audience outreach or a partner newsroom with innovative ideas for engaging audiences beyond publishing. While we welcome proposals on a broad range of underreported issues, this year we are also placing special emphasis on a few topics:

  • Health: Reporting projects that delve into scientific progress and research, as well as projects that explore urgent underreported health concerns in your region. We are also interested in reporting that highlights the intersection of scientific and technological innovations in health and medical treatments.
  • Science Misinformation: Any underreported topics related to science misinformation, science denial, or the spread of pseudoscience, such as falsehoods around advances in medical treatments, therapies or vaccines, or the denial of man-made climate destruction.
  • Marine Fisheries: Any underreported topics related to the management or stewardship of marine fisheries or issues related to illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing or seafood supply chains that are affecting your region.
  • Human Rights: Any underreported stories that relate to the intersections of racial justice with issues such as sexual and reproductive rights, gender-based violence, refugees and migrant rights, excessive use of force, arbitrary detention, child welfare, or hate crimes.

Applicants with ideas for reporting projects related to these topics are strongly encouraged to apply.

The 12-month, part-time Fellowship will provide journalists with up to $30,000 to pursue their reporting project and innovative engagement activities that expand the reach and impact of their reporting. In addition, Fellows will have access to data and research support and training with a group of peers that will help strengthen their reporting projects and related engagement activities.

Successful applicants will be expected to join a mandatory, 90-minute meeting held every month and to engage with other Fellows in virtual meetings and on the community’s dedicated online platform.

We require the sharing of methodologies, engagement plans, and lessons learned so each reporting project may serve as a blueprint for other newsrooms pursuing similar projects.

TO APPLY, YOU WILL BE ASKED TO PROVIDE THE FOLLOWING:

  • A short statement of purpose: How this particular Fellowship fits in your career path and why you are best positioned to be a StoryReach U.S. Reporting and Engagement Lab Fellow. (500 words)
  • A detailed description of the reporting project you seek to pursue during your Fellowship, including a plan for audience engagement activities. Please do not propose general themes, but a concrete project that shows pre-reporting on the subject. A compelling, well-researched project proposal with a reporting plan will help you stand out. (500 words)
  • Your plan for audience engagement should include the distribution channels for the reporting and a brief strategy for identifying and reaching audiences (both online and offline) that need to engage with your project. Your engagement strategies can include community events and exhibits; partnerships with artists; alliances with schools and universities; and more. Be bold! Also, see examples in the FAQs section. (up to 500 words)
  • We also will ask for a budget that lays out the anticipated costs of the project. Categories may include records requests, software, data analysis, multimedia production, travel and lodging, salaries/stipends, and engagement activities. Up to a third of the $30,000 Fellowship funds may be allotted to salaries with the remainder earmarked for reporting project costs and ideas for audience engagement for the Fellowship project.
  • Three examples (links) of your best stories published in the past three years.
  • A letter of commitment or interest from a media organization(s) that would publish your story(ies). If you are a staff reporter, get a signed letter from your editor or newsroom manager confirming you have their support in applying for the Fellowship. This letter should explicitly state that your newsroom will allocate time for you to participate in Fellowship activities and the newsroom will support publishing and an engagement campaign for the stories you produce through this Fellowship. It can also include why your manager thinks you would be suited for this Fellowship.
  • Three professional references: These can be either contact information or letters of recommendation.
  • A copy of your resume or curriculum vitae.

We encourage you to submit your application early. We will schedule interviews with finalists on a rolling basis. We encourage proposals from journalists and newsrooms that represent an array of social, racial, ethnic, and underrepresented groups, and economic backgrounds.

DEADLINE

Please apply using this form before 11:59pm PST on March 3, 2024.

ASK ME ANYTHING WEBINAR

Here are some of the things you can learn from watching this recording: 

  • Hear from Pulitzer Center editors on how the StoryReach U.S. Fellowships will differ from the other journalism fellowships and what we are looking for in our candidates.
  • Get tips on how to make your application stand out.
  • Hear examples of successful reporting and engagement projects.
  • Tips for planning your audience engagement strategy. 
  • See the Q&A with the audience.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Who is eligible to apply? 

  • Staff or freelance journalists working for U.S. local or regional outlets on a wide range of platforms, including digital, print, radio, video, and multimedia.
  • Team players with the experience and/or ability to work collaboratively across newsrooms.
  • Reporters with a deep interest in engaging diverse audiences with their stories.
  • Reporters can be based anywhere. However, they must be partnered with a local or regional U.S. news outlet. Fellowships are remote.
  • Reporters from any nationality are eligible to apply.

What are the benefits of becoming a StoryReach U.S. Fellow?

  • The opportunity to work on an urgent, underreported issue for a substantial period of time.
  • Access to mentors and specialized training opportunities.
  • A community of like-minded colleagues that will continue beyond your Fellowship.
  • Financial support to cover records requests, travel expenses, data analysis, and stipends.
  • The opportunity to find strong collaborators, ideas, and inspiration for your project or future projects.
  • The support to experiment with new ways to reach audiences in your region and deepen connections with the community your outlet serves.
  • The chance to further amplify your project through the Pulitzer Center’s outreach and education programs.
  • An opportunity to connect with the Pulitzer Center’s Data and Research team for advice on your reporting project.

How much financial support will Fellows receive?

Fellows are eligible to receive up to $30,000 divided into three payments. Please include a detailed budget explaining your reporting expenses and strong ideas for audience engagement for your Fellowship project.

When does the Fellowship start and how long does it last? 

The Fellowship is expected to start in early April 2024 and last through March 2025.

How detailed should my project proposal be?

Your proposal should demonstrate that you have done pre-reporting on the stories you want to pursue, including hypotheses that guide the work, data sources, and methodology. We want to see that there is an ambitious, coherent, and realistic reporting plan in place. We also are looking for thoughtful and creative ideas on how you plan to translate your stories to other formats to engage diverse audiences, from community events to artistic expressions, social media strategies, and more. If you don’t have experience with audience engagement, you may team up with someone who works on audience engagement in your partner outlet for this part of the application.

We are looking for reporters with a track record of in-depth, nuanced, and impactful reporting on issues that affect the communities they cover. Experience in investigative, data, and/or explanatory reporting is valued.

What are some examples of successful audience engagement strategies by Pulitzer Center grantees and Fellows?

  • Charleston, South Carolina-based Post and Courier distributed thousands of copies of its Pulitzer Center-backed I am Omar project, featuring a teacher lesson plan created by Pulitzer Center staff. The reprint was showcased at local events, including the Spoleto Festival USA's 2022 premiere of the acclaimed opera Omar.
  • María Inés Zamudio and Manuel Martinez, of Chicago’s WBEZ, integrated community engagement from the very start of their project on water debt during the pandemic, from community surveys to printing and mailing 18,000 bilingual postcards with a QR code so people most affected by water debt could access the stories. The reporters also organized bilingual “water bill workshops” to share practical tips with community members.
  • Mission Local's How Do We Survive? project used storytelling and graphic novel illustrations to depict the challenges faced by the primarily Latino community members in San Francisco’s Mission District during the pandemic. The bilingual project employed a Spanish-only texting service for broader access to vital news and updates, and led to reporting projects and educational workshops centering the voices of youth learning remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What are some tips for crafting an engagement strategy for the Fellowship project?

  • Who are the key audience(s) who need to know about this reporting and where (and how) can you find them? 
  • Who are the influencers or voices that are likely to resonate most with your audiences?
  • What are the most effective online/offline channels at our disposal to reach the key audiences?
  • What are some bold outside the box strategies for reaching key audiences before, during and after the project is published?

Is this a full-time fellowship?

No, this is a part-time Fellowship. We expect news outlets to treat the Fellows’ projects as one of their signature projects of the year and for Fellows to dedicate significant time to the reporting and engagement activities.

What is the Pulitzer Center's role in the editorial process?

The Pulitzer Center will coordinate and support the StoryReach U.S. lab, but Fellows and their outlets will have total editorial independence to do their work. Fellows may seek guidance and advice from Pulitzer Center editors as needed.

Can I apply with my team?

Yes, small teams of journalists from newsrooms (or collaborative reporting networks) are welcome to apply, but we will still need a lead person to be the Fellow. Please explain who is on your team and what their roles are. Team members will be welcome to join training and meetings if they wish to. The amount available for a Fellow leading a team is up to $30,000 divided into three payments.

Are the community and training aspects of the Fellowship mandatory?

Yes, this is why we approach this initiative as a Fellowship. Working and learning with a diverse group of journalists from around the country can illuminate unforeseen connections among stories and strengthen everyone’s projects with new perspectives. If you are pursuing a good story but cannot commit to the requirements of a Fellowship, you can try applying for a regular reporting grant.

Is editorial independence guaranteed?

Totally. Without any restrictions.

How should I send my proposal?

Please use the following application form.

When is the deadline to apply for the StoryReach U.S. reporting and engagement lab?

Please apply using this form before 11:59pm PST on March 3, 2024.

Additional questions?

If you have questions, please contact Steve Sapienza, senior editor for U.S. News Partnerships at [email protected].