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.

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. Themes for projects may include audience and social engagement, product development, and digital or business strategy.

The fellowship provides:

  • Free registration to ONA’s annual conference. Fellows get free registration at digital journalism’s largest event and opportunities to network and share their work. The fellowship covers registration for ONA21, June 22-25.
  • 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, 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 to ONA’s community. These insights become evergreen resources for the digital journalism community. See what fellows have been working on.

The 2021 MJ Bear fellows

Engagement reporter
Health Reporter
Community Engagement Strategist

Bilingual Reporter and Community Engagement Coordinator
KUNR Public Radio and Freelance

Each of the 2021 fellows will be working on a project related to digital journalism over the course of their fellowship.

Learn about their projects


  • April 14, 2021: Applications open
  • May 13, 2021: Applications close
  • June 2021: 2021 fellows announced
  • June 22-25, 2021: ONA Conference
  • Fall 2021: Coaching sessions


The fellowship is open to working journalists under 30 who are leading a digital journalism project. Applicants in 2021 must be born between June 26, 1991 and June 25, 1998. 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, Microsoft and MSN International.


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 30 MJ Bear Fellows who are producing cutting-edge work in digital media. Learn more about MJ Bear.