Deadline tomorrow, Jan. 17, 2012, for journalism fellowship application

Deadline tomorrow, Jan. 17, 2012, for journalism fellowship application

Fellowship to Focus on Immigration and the 2012 Elections

Deadline Is Jan. 17 for Program at University of Oklahoma

The Institute for Justice and Journalism is accepting applications for its 2012 professional fellowship program, which will examine the contentious immigration issues playing out across the country on local, state and federal levels and their role in the 2012 election campaign.

Twelve Fellows will be selected to participate in the professional development program, which will help reporters cover legal, political and demographic developments involving immigration. The program will provide journalists with facts, figures and perspectives to move beyond the typical campaign rhetoric on immigration. It also will examine the anticipated electoral impact of immigrants who have become newly eligible to vote.

“The program’s broader objective is exemplary journalism that helps the public understand complex, often-contentious immigration issues,” said Steve Montiel, IJJ board president.

The program, “Immigration in the Heartland: the 2012 Elections and Beyond,” will take place April 20-25 at the University of Oklahoma’s Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication and its Institute for Research and Training, which are partnering with IJJ in this program. The deadline for receipt of applications is Jan. 17.

The Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation is the program’s funder. IJJ Senior Fellow Warren Vieth, a professor at OU’s Gaylord College, is project director. 

Applicants must propose an enterprise project to be undertaken through the fellowship for publication or broadcast. Project proposals can be on any immigration-related subject. Story topics related to the 2012 elections will receive special consideration. Each Fellow will receive a $500 stipend upon completion of the story project and a “Story Behind the Story” account.

IJJ has conducted a dozen successful fellowship programs, involving more than 225 journalists and producing high-quality, award-winning stories and commentary. Click here for information on the 2010 and 2011 programs and stories produced by IJJ Fellows. 

The program will include:

  • Discussions led by experts on how immigration and related economic issues are affecting the 2012 election debate and how journalists can cut through the political rhetoric to produce more sophisticated and multifaceted coverage or commentary.
  • Sessions on demographic changes occurring throughout the country and the role newly eligible voters will play in local, state and national elections.
  • Discussion of the Secure Communities program and other law enforcement practices focusing on illegal immigrants.  
  • Hands-on training in the use of online databases, such as TRAC and GuideStar, led by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Martha Mendoza of the Associated Press and Dallas Morning News Senior Reporter Dianne Solís.   
  • Training on submitting effective FOIA requests and lessons on how to “follow the money” from donors to election candidates and elected officials.
  • A session on demystifying immigration laws and procedures, led by noted immigration attorney Daniel Kowalski.
  • Field reporting in Oklahoma City to assess the influence of national immigration policy and state laws.  

Guidelines for Applicants


All journalists reporting stories or providing commentary for print, television, radio or online distribution are eligible. Applications are encouraged from those employed by news outlets as well as from independent journalists, including bloggers and other online content producers.

Applicants must be U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents or non-citizens with unrestricted employment authorization. Students are not eligible.

Selection of Fellows: The selection committee will consider applicants’ professional accomplishments, individual and organizational commitment to the aims of the program, plus the quality of the story project proposal.

Applicants will be notified of the committee’s decisions by Feb. 8, 2012.

Terms: IJJ and the Gaylord College will provide lodging, meals and travel. IJJ also will award a $500 stipend to each Fellow upon completion of the story project and “Story Behind the Story” account.

Note: Fellows may elect to extend their stay in Oklahoma to conduct additional reporting in that region. Such a stay will be at the expense of the Fellow or the individual’s news organization.

Fellows are expected to:

  • Participate fully in all scheduled activities and designated online offerings, including those before the start of the program.
  • Provide monthly progress reports on the status of the story project.
  • Complete fellowship project stories or commentary and a “Story Behind the Story.”
  • Commit to remaining involved with IJJ and sharing what they have learned with colleagues and others.

Fellows’ news organizations are expected to:

  • Publish or air fellowship project stories that meet their standards.
  • Provide time off for Fellows to take part in the Oklahoma sessions, April 20-25.
  • Agree to IJJ’s re-publication or broadcast of project stories (with appropriate credit).

 Checklist for Applicants

 Materials Required for Submission: Application materials must be submitted via email in two Word attachments. Include this material in the email:

Attachment 1

A completed application form, which can be downloaded here.

Attachment 2

A. A description of the enterprise project you would like to pursue as part of your participation in the program. Be as specific as possible about the story angle, your reporting strategy and potential sources and data. Explain why this story topic or story framing is significant. Word limit: 400 words.

B. An assessment of what you would expect to gain from the fellowship experience, and what you would bring to it (e.g. how past accomplishments relate to current professional interests). 200 words.

C. For independent journalists only: Specify where you would expect to publish or broadcast your work. Has your work been published/broadcast in that media outlet before? Word limit: 100 words.

D. Work Samples: Relevant samples of your work that demonstrate your journalistic abilities. (For work published or broadcast in a language other than English, also provide a short summary in English for each sample submitted.) See application for instructions.

Letter of Recommendation

A one-page letter of recommendation is required. It should be emailed separately by the person writing the letter to The same Jan. 17 deadline applies.

—For members of a news staff: A letter from your supervisor endorsing the application and story project and committing to publish/broadcast the story project if it meets the organization’s standards.

—For independent journalists: A letter of recommendation from a person familiar with your professional work and describing the basis for the recommendation, or a letter confirming interest in the journalistic project you are proposing.

Application Deadline

The complete application packet, as outlined above, must be emailed before 11 p.m. (applicant’s local time) on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012. The deadline also applies to the letter of recommendation. Email to No faxed or late applications will be accepted.


Questions may be directed via email to or by phone to project director Warren Vieth at (405) 501-3374.