The Ida B. Wells Fellowship promotes diversity in journalism by helping to create a pipeline of investigative reporters of color who bring diverse backgrounds, experiences, and interests to their work.
The one-year fellowship helps reporters complete their first substantial work of investigative reporting by providing a $16,000 award and editorial guidance from a dedicated editor at Type Investigations, formerly known as The Investigative Fund. Fellows will also receive funds to cover travel and other reporting costs, and the costs associated with attending the annual Investigative Reporters and Editors conference, as well as a one-week data reporting boot camp. They will enjoy access to research resources, legal assistance, professional mentors and assistance with story placement and publicity.
Type Investigations holds an annual competition in the spring to select the fellows, who will be expected to publish or air their findings in a U.S. media outlet within one year of the start of the fellowship. We'll be selecting five fellows in 2020.
For the first time, we will select a Southern Ida B. Wells Fellow, who is based in, and will report from North or South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Kentucky, Texas or Mississippi. The Southern fellow's work must appear in an outlet serving this region. The Ida B. Wells Fellowship is a one-time educational opportunity and is non-renewable.
Journalists of color are strongly encouraged to apply, as are other reporters who believe their presence would contribute substantially to diversifying investigative reporting in other ways.
The fellowship honors Ida B. Wells, the pioneering African-American activist and investigative reporter who, during the Jim Crow era, led the nation’s first campaign against lynching. Born into slavery and orphaned at age 16, Wells not only dispelled stereotypes regarding rape and lasciviousness that led to black men and women being lynched, but revealed that often these victims’ only “crimes” were threatening white supremacy through acts of resistance or achievement. She continued her reporting in the face of death threats.
Studies have shown that diverse editorial staffs are essential for producing reporting that is relatable, relevant, and actionable for all audiences. But nearly 90 years after Wells’ death, women and people of color still struggle for acceptance, credibility and opportunity as investigative reporters.
People of color constitute less than 23 percent of all newsroom jobs, according to an annual survey by the American Society of Newsroom Editors, and 19 percent of supervisors; their presence is even smaller on investigative teams. Women are also underrepresented, with 42 percent of newsroom jobs. Survey data indicates that fewer than 10 percent of journalists come from a working-class background.
Our inaugural class of Ida B. Wells Fellows Adeshina Emmanuel, Nadine Sebai, Eseosa Olumhense, and Nikhil Swaminathan, with founding Ida B. Wells Fellowship director Kelly Virella, center, in white. Front row: Janean Ferrell and Alfreda Duster Ferrell, the great granddaughter and granddaughter of Ida B. Wells.
The application for the 2020 Ida B. Wells Fellowship is now closed. The next application cycle will open up in January 2021.
Here (pdf) is a list of frequently asked questions. If you have more questions about the fellowships, please e-mail Alissa Figueroa at firstname.lastname@example.org.
General guidance about the kinds of investigations Type Investigations produces may be found here.