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The Sharon Begley Science Reporting Fellowship

The Sharon Begley 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.

 

ABOUT THE FELLOWSHIP

The one-year 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, and will work at STAT’s Boston office from mid-to-late August 2022 to August 2023. Applications will be accepted from March 28 to May 6, 2022.

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Logo
Knight Science Journalism Logo
 

FAQs

How does the program work?

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, have access to the MIT libraries, and be able to audit classes at MIT and Harvard.

What are the benefits?

Fellows will be paid $75,000 and receive health insurance through MIT. They will receive 10 days of vacation and get standard holidays off.

Who is eligible to apply?

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.

How do I apply?

Applications for the two 2022-23 fellowships will be accepted starting March 28, 2022, until May 6, 2022, at 5 p.m. ET.

You will need to submit:

  • A personal statement of up to 1,000 words describing yourself, your goals for the fellowship, and how your background, experiences, and career path influenced your decision to pursue this opportunity.
  • A resume.
  • Links to 3-5 published articles that showcase your reporting and writing skills.
  • A letter of recommendation from an individual familiar with your work who can comment on your abilities, your commitment to journalism, and your suitability for this fellowship. Letter must be submitted by May 9.

You can find more details and submit your application online below. Finalists will be interviewed in May, and selected fellows will be notified by mid-June.

Are there Covid-19 vaccination requirements?

Boston Globe Media Partners, STAT’s parent company, requires that all employees provide the company Human Resources team with proof of Covid-19 vaccination status through the secure system that will be provided for this purpose. For those who are not vaccinated for company-approved and verified medical and/or religious reasons, that same system will allow you to upload required weekly Covid-19 test results. MIT requires Covid-19 vaccination and a booster for all MIT employees, including fellows, who work in the United States. New employees must be fully vaccinated, including the booster, before their date of hire; if not eligible for the booster at date of hire, they must receive the booster within two weeks after becoming eligible. Individuals may request exemption from the vaccine requirement for medical or religious reasons. More information may be found at: https://now.mit.edu.

Why did STAT start this program?

The Sharon Begley 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.

How can I support the fellowship?

STAT is launching a campaign to raise additional funding to support the growth and sustainability of the Sharon Begley Science Reporting Fellowship for years to come. Your contribution will help pay for fellows’ reporting expenses and salaries, program administrative costs, and other operational costs. All contributions will directly help STAT’s newsroom recruit and cultivate new talent to support and diversify science journalism. (Contributions to STAT are not tax-deductible.)

CONTRIBUTE NOW

Tax-deductible gifts in support of the fellowship can be made via MIT to the Sharon Begley Science Reporting Fellowship Fund within the Knight Science Journalism program. Click here to contribute via MIT

Why is the fellowship named for Sharon Begley?

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. 

Portrait of Sharon
Portrait of Sharon Begley

Please email Managing Editor Gideon Gil at [email protected] with any other questions.