The Sharon Begley-STAT Science Reporting Fellowship was launched in 2021 with the goal of diversifying the ranks of science and health journalists and fostering better coverage of science that is relevant to all people. It combines a paid reporting position at STAT with an educational component provided through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s prestigious Knight Science Journalism (KSJ) program.
The nine-month fellowship is intended for early-career U.S. journalists from racial and ethnic groups underrepresented in the profession and will prepare them for a successful career in science journalism.
The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative provided $225,000 to support the first two years of the program, which is named in honor of Sharon Begley, an award-winning science writer for STAT, who died in January 2021 at 64, from complications of lung cancer. KSJ and MIT are also providing financial support for the fellowship.
The inaugural fellow, for the 2021-22 year, is Isabella Cueto, a Cuban American journalist who has worked as a newspaper and radio reporter in Florida, South Carolina, and California. Two additional fellows will be selected for the 2022-23 year.
Fellows will work at STAT’s Boston office alongside its team of experienced science and health reporters and editors to report and write articles for STAT. They will have opportunities for mentorship and to work with various teams. At the same time, they will participate in KSJ training seminars and fellowship community events and have access to the MIT libraries. (In the program’s first year, the KSJ offerings will be virtual.) In future years, fellows will be able to audit classes at MIT and Harvard.
Fellows will be paid $75,000 and receive health insurance through MIT. They will receive 10 days of vacation and get standard holidays off.
An applicant must be residing in the U.S. and live in, or be willing to relocate to, the Boston area. Applicants must have some previous journalism experience; between six months and five years is desirable. Previous work as a science writer is not required. In compliance with federal law, fellows will be required to verify identity and eligibility to work in the United States and to complete the required employment eligibility verification form upon hire.
Applications for the 2021-22 fellowship are now closed. Information about applying for the 2022-23 fellowships will be available in early 2022.
The Sharon Begley-STAT Science Reporting Fellowship aims to serve as a model for expanding racial diversity in science journalism that could be replicated at other publications. Science journalism reflects the structural and systemic inequities in our society, with Black, Hispanic/Latinx, and Indigenous reporters often not getting the same opportunities as white reporters to gain experience. Roughly 80% of science journalists are white, according to the most recent membership data from two of the leading professional organizations, with 6% identifying as Asian or Pacific Islander, 1%-4% as Black, 3%-4% as Hispanic or Latinx, and 1% as Native American.
STAT is launching a campaign to raise additional funding to support the growth and sustainability of the Sharon Begley-STAT Science Reporting Fellowship for years to come. Your contribution will help pay for fellows’ reporting expenses and salaries, program administrative costs, and other STAT operational costs. All contributions will directly help STAT’s newsroom recruit and cultivate new talent to support science journalism.CONTRIBUTE NOW
Begley, STAT’s senior science writer, was one of the nation’s finest science journalists and was known for her enthusiasm for mentoring and teaching the next generation. She was especially eager to help other women advance in a profession that, when she began as a researcher at Newsweek in 1977, was unwelcoming. She later worked at the Wall Street Journal and Reuters, before joining STAT at its founding in 2015. She was one of the STAT reporters honored as a finalist for the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news reporting, for their “prescient, expert and accessible coverage” of the Covid-19 pandemic. Her legacy includes her powerful advocacy for people of color, exemplified by a series she wrote in 2016 and 2017 about the neglect by scientists, government funders, drug makers and hospitals of patients with sickle cell disease, who in the U.S. are predominantly Black. This fellowship pays tribute to her outstanding career while paving the way for the next generation of science journalists.