Nieman Fellows represent the changing face of journalism. They come to Harvard from locations around the world. They work for national and local print publications, broadcast news outlets, news websites and documentary film production companies. Some are making their mark as freelance journalists. Some have practiced their craft under repressive governments or in far-flung fields of conflict. Together each year, they form a Nieman class that is rich in diversity, experience and aspirations for the years ahead.
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About the Award
Monetary/Material Award Details
Applicants must be full-time journalists (including freelancers) with at least five years’ experience. Journalists may work for news or editorial departments of newspapers, wire services, radio, television, websites, online publications or magazines of general public interest. Photojournalists, editorial cartoonists, filmmakers, columnists and broadcast producers are also eligible.
For the Nieman-Berkman Fellowship in Journalism Innovation, individuals who work in fields that support journalism — such as the business or technology side of news companies — are also eligible to apply.
For the short-term Visiting Fellowship, applicants do not need to be practicing journalists, but must demonstrate in their project proposal how their work will impact journalism.
Any journalism-related work completed as a university student does not count toward experience. People who work in public relations or at organizations whose primary business is not the media are not eligible.
If appropriate, the applicant’s employer should approve a leave of absence for the academic year (10 months).
Within the past two years, an applicant should not have participated in a fellowship or taken a leave of absence from work that lasted four months or longer.
There is no nomination process. Candidates nominate themselves by submitting an application and supplementary materials. There is no age limit. There are no academic prerequisites and a college degree is not required.
Entry Fee Details
I. Two Essays
Please pay close attention to the word limit. The selection committee will not consider essays submitted in excess of that limit. We require two essays: a personal statement and a proposal for study at Harvard. These essays are very important parts of your application. We carefully evaluate them to understand your accomplishments and potential. Both can be uploaded with the online application.
We are particularly interested in examples and details that demonstrate that you have a significant capacity for growth and leadership. We also want to know specifically how a year at Harvard will help make you a better journalist.
• Personal Statement: 1,000 words or less that describes your journalistic experience, career plans and goals. Why have you chosen this time for a transformative experience away from your work in journalism? What experiences in life and in journalism have shaped you? What personal and journalistic values and intellectual interests have influenced your decision to seek this fellowship? What motivates your commitment to journalistic excellence? What are your aspirations for your life ahead in journalism?
• Proposal for Study at Harvard: 500 words or less that describes how you plan to spend a year at Harvard. What are your thoughts about an academic concentration or field of study? It is not necessary to specify course titles, but please identify the resources at Harvard that would serve your goals in journalism.
For the Nieman-Berkman Fellowship for Journalism Innovation, this essay should clearly outline the project or course of research you propose to undertake. The essay should make it clear how the proposal could have impact on the broader world of journalism.
Upload one file that contains two summaries: 1) a professional profile and 2) a study plan summary.
• Professional profile: Provide a short profile (no more than 100 words) that summarizes your professional career including your current position (work title/news organization, if appropriate); publications that you've written for and/or other news organizations that you've worked for; journalism awards you've won; beats and issues that you cover; special interests, etc. View samples of other professional profiles »
• Study plan summary: Provide a brief summary (25-50 words) of your study plan. View samples of past summaries »
III. Work Samples
Work samples can be uploaded with the online application. Files with the following extensions are accepted: .pdf, .txt, .rtf, .doc, .wps, .lwp, .wks and .wpd. You may additionally upload a summary page that describes your samples.
DVDs, audio/video files, photographs or samples that exist only on paper should be sent to the address below, where they will be added to any material you submit with the online application:
Nieman Foundation for Journalism
Attention: 2016 Fellowship Application
One Francis Avenue
Cambridge MA 02138-2009
International Applicants: Most, if not all of your samples should have been published or broadcast between Dec. 1, 2013 and Dec. 1, 2014. One sample produced before Dec. 1, 2013 may be submitted. (See exception for television and documentary journalists.)
U.S. Applicants: Most, if not all of your samples should have been published or broadcast between Jan. 1, 2014 and Jan. 30, 2015. One sample produced before Jan. 1, 2014 may be submitted. (See exception for television and documentary journalists.)
Nieman-Berkman Applicants: Most, if not all of your samples should have been published or broadcast between Jan. 1, 2014 and Jan. 30, 2015. One sample produced before Jan. 1, 2014 may be submitted. (See exception for television and documentary journalists.) Nieman-Berkman candidates who are not working journalists — for example, individuals who work at news organizations in technology or on the business side — may omit the work samples portion of the application, but should attach other documentation that illustrates the work they do.
If you routinely work in more than one medium, you may submit samples from each as long as you follow the guidelines below.
• Any printed samples, summaries and synopses submitted must be formatted to fit 8” x 11” (21.5 x 28 cm) sheets of paper.
• Your name should be included in the upper right corner of every item you submit (or on the backs of photographs).
• Do not send complete newspapers or magazines, books, scrapbooks, unpublished manuscripts, works-in-progress, irreplaceable material, elaborate presentations (e.g. spiral bindings or report covers) or “creative” displays (i.e. video presentations of still photographs).
• Please clearly date all your samples and do not send more than the requested number.
• If your samples are not in English, please include a summary of their contents in English. Supporting materials must also be in English. We will not accept work that does not meet these criteria. Submitted materials will not be returned.
• Writers: Submit five (5) samples of published work. (Each byline counts as one sample.) If you send stories from a series, include a brief outline of the other stories in the series.
• Editors: Submit a statement describing your job. (This is in addition to your two essays.) You may include copies of published work along with a description of your role in these samples. For published work, follow the instructions for writers above.
• Photographers: Submit a portfolio with eight (8) samples of your work. These may include original prints, tear sheets or a combination of both. Photographs must be 8” x 10” (20.5 x 25.5 cm) and may be in color or black and white. Do not mount your photos. Broadcast Journalists
• Television and documentary filmmakers: Submit one DVD or CD with no more than 30 minutes of work. (If necessary, we will accept a VHS videotape.) Include a written synopsis of each work with a brief description of your involvement in each piece.
If you work on programs that are longer than 30 minutes and feel an edited version isn’t representative, you may submit a sample of no more than 60 minutes. Your samples must have been broadcast or shown in a public venue within the past two years.
We are flexible on the length of samples and the requirement that they be broadcast in the last two years. We realize that it is sometimes difficult to edit long pieces and understand the long lead time that goes into making documentary films.
• Radio: Submit one CD with work totaling 30 minutes. Include a written synopsis that indicates, by counter number or other measure, where each sample begins and briefly describes your involvement with each piece. Online Journalists
• Submit samples equivalent to five (5) print articles or 30 minutes of programming. Also include a description of your job, what your involvement was with each sample and indicate if each sample was created exclusively for the Web or adapted from another media format.
Your samples must be journalistic in nature and demonstrate that your job involves news gathering, writing, editing or producing.
IV. Letters of Recommendation
Four (4) confidential letters of recommendation are required. These confidential letters should indicate how your abilities and experience make you an outstanding candidate for a Nieman Fellowship and should describe your qualifications, your potential for professional growth and leadership, and the impact a fellowship might have on your career in journalism.
Letters of recommendation can be submitted via the online application and/or mailed to the Nieman Foundation at the address below.
Recommendations should be written by:
• Two individuals familiar with your work who can comment on your journalistic abilities and potential for growth and leadership.
• Your immediate supervisor with an appraisal of your qualifications.
• Your organization’s publisher, editor, manager or director supporting your application and granting you a nine-month leave of absence if you receive a fellowship. If your circumstances prevent you from obtaining a leave letter (see explanation below) you may submit a third letter from an individual familiar with your work. For freelance journalists, we require letters from four individuals familiar with your work.
V. Leave of Absence Letter
The Nieman Foundation recognizes that news organizations are occasionally reluctant to grant leaves of absence to valuable staff members for long-term fellowships when staffing levels are tight. However, it is our hope that news executives recognize that the knowledge, broader perspective, personal development and leadership skills fellows bring back at the end of the Nieman year will benefit the newsroom.
We encourage news managers to work with fellowship applicants to help them shape their aspirations for a year at Harvard. We also encourage potential Nieman applicants to be upfront with their news organization’s leadership about their intentions, whether or not a supporting letter is forthcoming. In the absence of such a letter of support however, a candidate is still eligible to apply for a Nieman Fellowship.
Letters should be mailed directly to the Nieman Foundation at the address below and postmarked by the following dates:
• International applicants (except international Nieman-Berkman applicants who have a Jan. 31, 2015 deadline): Dec. 1, 2014.
• U.S. applicants: Jan. 31, 2015
Nieman Foundation for Journalism
Attention: 2016 Fellowship Application
One Francis Avenue
Cambridge MA 02138-2009
To apply online:
To use the online application, you must first create an account using your e-mail address. Once the account has been created, you will then choose the type of fellowship you wish to apply for.
You can save your information and return as many times as you like prior to the application deadline.
Short-term Visiting Fellowships:
Complete the two page application (the General Information and Upload Documents sections).
All Other Fellowships:
The online application has three major sections: (read more about the three major section here: http://nieman.harvard.edu/NiemanFoundation/NiemanFellowships/HowToApply/ApplyOnline.aspx)
To apply with print application:
• Download the U.S. application. (pdf)
• Print the form and fill it out using a pen (please print clearly).
• Letters of recommendation should be sent directly to the Nieman Foundation at the address on the application.
• Send your completed, dated and signed application form, along with your work samples and essays, to the Nieman Foundation at the address on the application.