MJ Bear fellows Kevin Nguyen, Abbey Crain, Taylor Blatchford and Shadab Nazmi at the Online News Association Conference at the Sheraton New Orleans on Sept. 13, 2019, in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Daniel Petty/Online News Association)

MJ Bear Fellowship

The MJ Bear Fellowship identifies and supports digital journalists under 30 whose work represents the best of digital news. In 2019, ONA selected six fellows from around the world who are up-and-coming journalists and leading innovative digital journalism projects.

Note about the 2020 MJ Bear Fellowship program: With the many challenges related to COVID-19, ONA unfortunately is unable to offer this opportunity in 2019. We are investing in more scholarships and other opportunities to attend ONA20. We want to thank sponsors, long-standing program volunteers and consultants, the family of MJ Bear and others who have supported our decision to place this programs on hiatus for 2020. We plan to reintroduce this opportunity in late spring of 2021.

The 2019 MJ Bear fellows

Digital Producer
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
The New Tropic
Visual Data Journalists
BBC News/South Asia
News Producer
The Seattle Times

Each of the 2019 fellow will be working on a project related to digital journalism over the course of their fellowship.

Learn about their projects

About the Fellowship

The one-year fellowship is designed to provide support and guidance to early-career journalists on a digital journalism project as well as their own professional development. Projects might include a unique way of looking at news coverage, creative data visualizations, intrapreneurial or entrepreneurial efforts, new efforts in video, or other digitally-focused approaches to news coverage.

The fellowship provides:

  • Speaking opportunity at ONA’s annual conference. Fellows earn recognition at digital journalism’s largest event and participate in a panel discussion to share their work. The fellowship covers registration, travel and accommodations for ONA19, Sept. 12–14, in New Orleans.
  • Three tailored coaching sessions. Based on the projects that fellows are working on and the skills they are looking to build, ONA works with industry leaders to design custom coaching sessions for the group. Past sessions have covered topics such as pitching projects, stories and oneself; career advancement in a changing world; audience engagement; marketing and entrepreneurship.
  • ONA membership, with three year’s dues paid in full.
  • Additional opportunities to showcase work and expertise. During their fellowship year, fellows share insights from their projects and career journeys on ONA’s website. These insights become evergreen resources for the digital journalism community. See what fellows have been working on.


  • June 4, 2019: Applications opened
  • July 11, 2019: Applications closed
  • August 2019: 2019 fellows announced
  • Sept. 12–14, 2019: ONA Conference & Online Journalism Awards Ceremony
  • Spring 2020: Coaching sessions
  • Summer 2020: Fellows share insights on journalists.org


The fellowship is open to working journalists under 30 who are leading a digital journalism project. Applicants in 2019 must be born between Sept. 15, 1989 and Sept. 14, 1996. Applicants can be working either for a company or organization or be self-employed. ONA encourages freelancers and journalists from diverse backgrounds to apply. Full-time students are not eligible for this fellowship.

Review the Program FAQ and application requirements. If you have additional questions, email mjbearfellowship@journalists.org.

MJ Bear, a pioneer in digital journalism, wanted to ensure that rising, young journalists were both mentored — and heard. We are proud to carry on her legacy and honor the people who are our industry’s future.

Key Supporters

The MJ Bear Fellowship is made possible through generous contributions by the MJ Bear Estate, friends of MJ Bear and ONA, MSN International and Microsoft News.

Microsoft News

Founding ONA board member Mary Jane “MJ” Bear played key roles in ONA’s history, helping to incorporate the organization and serving on the Education, Fundraising, Conference and Legal Affairs Committees until 2003. She laid the groundwork for the creation of a fund to spotlight talented early-career journalists. Since 2011, the fellowship has identified and supported 24 MJ Bear Fellows who are producing cutting-edge work in digital media. Learn more about MJ Bear.