ONA opens 2012 MJ Bear Fellowships for under-30 digital journalism stars

By on April 20, 2012

The Online News Association, the world’s largest membership organization of digital journalists, announces a call for applications for the 2012 MJ Bear Fellowships for early-career digital journalists, in honor of founding member MJ Bear.

For the second year of the Fellowships, the search committee will again select three promising, up-and-coming digital journalists — two in the United States or Canada and one internationally, in partnership with MSN International — who are just beginning to make their voices heard in the industry.

Selected Fellows will be paired with a digital news leader as a mentor; receive a free three-year ONA membership and an expense-paid trip to the Online News Association Conference & Awards Banquet, Sept. 20-22, in San Francisco, where they’ll have a chance to share their fresh perspectives.

Last year’s Fellows — Laura Amico, Homicide Watch DC; Lucas Timmons, Edmonton Journal, and Lam Thuy Vo, now at NPR’s Planet Money — also posted weekly blogs on journalists.org that showcased their work, ideas and the tools and technology they used and chronicled their progress over the year.

Watch Laura, Lam and Lucas talk about their experiences and offer tips for applying, and check back on journalists.org next week for more tips from Lam.

The goal of the Fellowship, in Bear’s own words, is “to promote the voices of young professionals working in or training to work in the field of online news by presenting programs at ONA’s annual conference, or in other venues. The programs will be designed to explore and showcase innovations, developments and new ideas in the field.”

Applicants must be working journalists between the ages of 23 and 30 and fluent in English. They will be asked to describe recent concepts, experiments or projects that move digital journalism forward or resulted in valuable lessons or outcomes, and also provide a recommendation and a personal statement. Application deadline is May 31, 2012.

Review the criteria here.
Apply here.

“There’s no shortage of talented young journalists out there with big, bold ideas on how to transform the craft,” said ONA Board President Jim Brady, Editor-in-Chief, Digital First Media. “But many of them are finding it difficult to get financial support for those ideas. The MJ Bear Fellowship provides that, while honoring a journalist who made a career of embracing exactly these kinds of innovative ideas."

Bear, whose wide-ranging career took her to pivotal roles at Microsoft’s MSN Portals and MSN International, NPR and American University, was renowned for her kindness and digital know-how. She played a vital role in ONA’s history as a member of the original Board of Directors, helping to incorporate the organization in 1999 and serving on the Education, Fundraising, Conference and Legal Affairs committees until 2003.

So far, Friends of MJ Bear and ONA have contributed nearly $100,000 to the Fellowship fund. The MJ Bear Fellowship Committee will continue planning both short- and long-term goals to realize the letter and spirit of her wishes, and to build fundraising campaigns to expand the Fellowships and shape the future of young journalists.

Donations can be made here. Please make checks payable to the Online News Association, with a notation in the memo field that reads MJ Bear Fellowship Fund.

About ONA:
The Online News Association is the world’s largest association of digital journalists. ONA’s mission is to inspire innovation and excellence among journalists to better serve the public. The membership includes news writers, producers, designers, editors, bloggers, developers, photographers and others who produce news for the Internet or other digital delivery systems, as well as academic members and others interested in the development of online journalism. ONA also hosts the Online News Association annual conference and administers the Online Journalism Awards.

For more information, contact:
Jane McDonnell, Executive Director
Online News Association


Jennifer Mizgata

Jennifer Mizgata is Director of Programs at the Online News Association, where she leads the Women's Leadership Accelerator. At ONA, Jennifer focuses on identifying talented digital journalists and innovative journalism projects and providing them with support. Jennifer is a business and design strategist with over a decade of experience creating industry-changing training programs, investing in award-winning projects, and managing key relationships with journalism partners and tech stakeholders. She regularly coaches managers, senior leaders and entrepreneurs on challenges related to their careers and launching new ventures. Jennifer shares advice for navigating tough work challenges in Work Space, a monthly column for Fortune.