Now in its 27th year, AAJA Voices is a student program that provides aspiring journalists with career-ready skills to succeed in the continually-evolving media landscape. By nurturing relationships between students and professional volunteers, Voices also gives students the opportunity to tap into mentors’ networks and begin their own while also providing AAJA journalists leadership and management opportunities. 

Roundup: diversity fellowships

Roundup: diversity fellowships

AAJA students share their personal experiences with diversity fellowships

BY VIOLET WANG, JONATHAN NG & CLAIRE TRAN

Newsroom diversity is improving, however, it is far from the fair representation of the general population. Last fall, the American Society of News Editors announced that minority journalists make up only 16.6 percent of newsrooms. Last year, a group of VOICES students reported on the delayed promise of newsroom diversity and investigated the hiring decisions of five of nation’s largest news organizations.

In response to the problem, many organizations initiated diversity fellowships that provide opportunities of professional development, mentorship and networking. We asked AAJA students to share their experience with their diversity fellowships.

Chips Quinn Scholars Program for Diversity in Journalism

Freedom Forum Institute

“The Chips Quinn participants (Chipsters, as we affectionately call ourselves!) are all racially diverse. We spent a week together in May training in preparation for our internships and had several discussions about issues POCs face in newsrooms and workplaces. Being surrounded by a community of people who genuinely support each other, care about minority issues and want to not only improve but also maintain newsroom diversity is a huge win, and I'm honored to be part of it.”

– Sheila Raghavendran, Voices class of 2017. Sheila works with WYSO Public Radio. Read and listen to her works here and here.

CNBC Summer Fellowship Program

“CNBC and NBCUniversal as a whole does a great job at hiring and maintaining a diverse group of people. Several senior leaders at CNBC and NBCUniversal spoke with the interns weekly and were genuinely interested and invested in our success. The multimedia exposure at CNBC was incredible. I was able to do almost anything I wanted. I could try or shadow anyone and everyone there was really welcoming and helpful.”

– Waverly Colville, who worked on the breaking news desk and on the show Closing Bell’s production team. Her duty ranged from running social media for the CNBCTravel, making graphs, and writing short reporter scripts and stories for the website. Read about her work here and here.

The New York Times Student Journalism Institute

“We had the opportunity to discuss race during a race-related meeting with top POC editors of the paper. Among the students (25 in my year, including myself) we also had discussions about race that continue even until today. Working with almost all PoC was truly the best journalism experience I've ever had, and it was really inspirational (that's overused, but I never call anything inspiring). It was like a wonderful taste of what could be and what we want.
The whole two weeks was the highlight — it was a highlight and dream come true. Speakers gave us phenomenal advice, such as claiming, and reclaiming credit for your work. I am actively trying to do that now. Another cool thing I was able to do was that I pitched, planned and created the first Instagram stories for the Institute, and someone from Instagram reached out to say they loved the Instastory. That gave me confidence that my ideas, although oftentimes not conventional, can have real, positive results.”

– Diamond Naga Siu. Read about her work here.

NBC News Summer Fellowship

Asian American Journalists Association

“In addition to AAJA, NBC has partner fellowships with other organizations such as the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and Native American Journalists Association. All of the fellows regularly met with industry executives to network and discuss opportunities in the field. It was amazing to feel a sense of community with the other fellows. I gained the confidence to reach out to colleagues for an informational interview, something I would’ve been too shy to do before. In addition, I also had the opportunity to pitch and write a piece for NBC Asian America.”

– Claire Tran, Voices class of 2018. Claire is an editorial fellow at CityLab, the urban life publication of The Atlantic. Previously, she interned at publications such as NBC News and the New England Center for Investigative Reporting.

CONNECT: Student Journalism Training Project

National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association

“The participants were diverse and we were also encouraged to report about LGBT issues. The mentors were also all members of NLGJA and identified as part of the LGBTQ community. The biggest take away from the program was the connections made with the fellow participants. To this day we still keep in touch and  are an important support system for each other. I recommend any student journalist who identifies as queer and/or wants to report on LGBTQ issues to apply. It was a great program.”

– Salgu Wissmath, Voices class of 2018. Read their work here.

Tackling diversity in student newsrooms

Tackling diversity in student newsrooms

3 stories generated through FOIA

3 stories generated through FOIA