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Support Fellowships and Programs for Journalists from Poor and Low-income Backgrounds

Support fellowships and other mentoring and training programs for journalists from poor and low-income backgrounds.


One of the most pernicious American media biases is the bias of class. Journalists tend to be mostly white and mostly from middle-class or wealthier backgrounds. Some of the problem happens at the college level–the best J-schools are private and pricey, and too many of the best, most consequential internships are unpaid, and even if they are paid, the publications offering them are usually in New York, an excruciatingly expensive city.


Most talented poor would-be journalists just don’t have the money to afford the best college programs, even with scholarships, and can’t afford to work for free, or for a pittance that will be swallowed up by rent, transportation, and the costs of upgrading their wardrobes.


As a result, American media, and American reporting, suffers from a lack of voices who intimately understand the realities of growing up in poverty, and trying to survive in poverty.


When we don’t have a decent-size population of skilled folks scattered throughout newsrooms and magazine offices across the country, we suffer, because we don’t have sharp minds who can pounce and call bullshit on bullshit government initiatives, such as trying to remake SNAP (food stamps) as a Blue Apron-style monthly delivery of boxed food. (Ok, we have sharp minds calling bullshit on Twitter, but we’d be better off if some of those sharp minds had access to bigger, broader media platforms.)


Fortunately, there are a few programs for budding journalists from low-income backgrounds. We at OTYCD encourage you to support and donate to these programs.


The Economic Hardship Reporting Project is an initiative by the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Policy Studies. Founded by Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickeled and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America and other books that examine poverty in America, it commissions stories which, in its words, “put a human face on financial instability.”


While its webpage does not explicitly describe any formal fellowships, programs, or internships for journalists from poor backgrounds, recruiting and mentoring people who have that experience is one if the EHRP’s goals. Co-editor Alissa Quart says in a July 2016 Washington Monthly piece reproduced on the organization’s website:


“We seek out, and mentor, journalists who are themselves from marginalized backgrounds, helping them push their stories about their communities and their families into the mainstream media.”


The project takes submissions online, and recruits candidates via word of mouth and through co-founder Ehrenreich. They’re also trying to find new voices from inside organizations they work with, like associations of restaurant or domestic workers.  (Classroom aides, school clerks and crossing guards, please?)


Sometimes it’s the money that makes the reporting possible. (The goal is to pay one dollar per word.) Other times, according to Quart, it’s helping reporters understand the codes and behaviors of journalism, which is notoriously hard to crack from the outside.


Often, firsthand experience with economic hardship deepens and improves the reporting, according to Quart, citing the Jezebel piece about resilience as an example. “It had a personal energy and anger that you’re not seeing normally in these kinds of pieces,” said Quart.



See the EHRP’s website:



See its About page:



See the full Washington Monthly piece on the EHRP site:



Also see the Jezebel story about resilience mentioned in the quote above:



Donate to the EHRP:




Princeton University offers a summer journalism program in August for about two dozen high school American students from low-income backgrounds. 2018 will mark its 17th edition.


It’s a ten-day intensive seminar that includes aftercare such as mentoring and assistance with applying to colleges. It covers all the students’ expenses, including travel to and from Princeton.


Donate to the Princeton University Summer Journalism Program:



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Action Alerts · First Amendment, Defending a Free Press · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms · Vote with your Dollars

Support the Committee to Protect Journalists

This OTYCD entry originally posted in July 2017.

Support the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an independent nonprofit that defends the rights of journalists to report the news without reprisal.

We at OTYCD knew we would devote a post to the CPJ at some point. Trump’s July 2 tweet threatening CNN forced our hand.

Since its founding in 1981, the CPJ has vigorously defended journalists around the world from all sorts of threats. At its core it is devoted to promoting and defending the value of accurate information in a free society. It tracks how many journalists are killed for simply doing their jobs, how many have been jailed, and how many are missing. It monitors the levels of censorship in various countries. It shines a light on attacks on the press. It issues safety guides and dispatches emergency response teams to journalists and media crews working in dangerous areas.

The CPJ does good, necessary work. Please support it.


Visit the CPJ website:


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Donate to the CPJ:


First Amendment, Defending a Free Press · Separation of Church and State · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms · Uncategorized

Support the Student Press Law Center, Which Fights for the First Amendment Rights of Journalists In High School and College

Support the Student Press Law Center (SPLC), which fights for the First Amendment rights of journalists in high school and college.


Good journalists don’t come from nowhere. They have to learn their craft, and many start with their high school or college papers.


Unfortunately, these young journalists face barriers that adult journalists face far less often–outright censorship from school staff, pressure to change stories, retaliatory budget cuts, and the like.


The SPLC is the only nonprofit that defends the free press rights of journalists in high school and college. It fields more than 2,000 inquiries on its legal advice hotline every year. It also advocates for open campus government, defends online speech, and encourages civic participation. It provides its legal services to students for free.


With the uptick in student walkouts and protests, which began rising after the creation of the Black Lives Matter movement, the intensity surrounding the plight of the Dreamers, and demands for common-sense gun laws after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, student journalists will be under more pressure and more in need of help.


The actions of the Trump administration has shown why good journalism is vital to a healthy democracy. We need to support tomorrow’s journalists as well as today’s.



See the SPLC webpage:



See its ‘Covering Walk-outs and Protests’ page:



Request legal help from the SPLC:



Become an attorney volunteer for the SPLC:



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