High Country News, an award-winning magazine covering the communities and environment of the Western United States, seeks applicants for a Virginia Spencer Davis fellow. The fellowship is funded by the Virginia Spencer Davis fund and designed for early-career journalists interested in reporting on rural communities in the West, and how those communities are changing. It will provide on-the-ground reporting opportunities and a chance to dive deep into important stories, as well as professional mentorship and career development.
Candidates will bring curiosity, fair-mindedness and a desire to share stories from and for rural communities.
The fellowship will run from Monday, July 10, 2023 through Friday, June 28, 2024 and includes coaching and instruction from across HCN's editorial and art departments. Fellows will produce reported stories, analysis, essays and/or other types of projects.
High Country News is part of a growing number of newsrooms addressing a historic lack of representation, inclusion and equity in journalism with effective solutions. We welcome applicants from all life experiences and encourage members of traditionally underrepresented backgrounds to apply, including Indigenous people, people of color, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ people and those from marginalized and low-income backgrounds.
Duties/Outcomes will include:
The fellowship is an opportunity for a journalist to deepen their knowledge of and expertise on rural communities in the Western U.S., including, but not limited to agriculture, food systems and rural land conservation.
The fellow will aim to publish approximately 24 bylined stories over the course of the fellowship; these will include a mix of news/fast-moving short-form content as well as more in-depth enterprising work for the magazine. The fellowship may also include a major capstone project, such as a reported feature, multimedia story or other in-depth piece.
Fellows will contribute to the editorial vision and success of the magazine by collaborating with other journalists, joining regular departmental meetings and sharing subject matter expertise. The fellow typically:
- Writes news, analysis and other in-depth reporting focused on or relevant to rural communities in the Western U.S.
- Prioritizes reporting and writing for HCN online, though some stories will also run in print. The position requires the on-time submission of approximately two stories per month, typically between 500 and 2,000 words.
- Provides consistent support to the assigned desk, including attending and participating in editorial meetings, review of story pitches, cultural competency reviews and administrative tasks as assigned.
- Contributes to the editorial vision and success of the magazine through meetings, discussions and public appearances.
Skills and experience:
Candidates should have the ability to create thoughtful, even-handed journalism for digital or print audiences, and insights into the West's rural communities. We're looking for enthusiastic, committed early-career journalists with at least two years of professional writing (or equivalent) experience; we understand that lived experience can be as or more valuable than professional experience. Candidates should have the ability to work as a member of a dispersed, diverse editorial team and to contribute to the cultural competence of the organization. Applicants should be versed in the foundational principles of reporting and producing insightful, fair-minded stories consistently on deadline.
Most importantly, they should demonstrate a passion for creating journalism for diverse audiences that deepens readers' understanding of the West's natural and human communities.
Compensation and general terms:
Working hours are flexible but fellows should expect to work approximately 32.5 hours each week. Fellows are paid a stipend on a bi-weekly basis of $1,250, as well as a work-from-home allowance of $100 per month and a signing bonus of $500 intended to help defray the cost of IT equipment. In addition, this position is eligible for health benefits starting on the first of the month following 60 days employment. Paid vacation, sick leave and holidays are included, prorated to hours worked.
This position is remote and open to candidates who reside in Arizona, Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington or Wyoming. The HCN editorial team is dispersed across the Western U.S.; our headquarters is in Paonia, Colorado.
To apply, please send a resume, three clips and a cover letter explaining your interest and experience covering the Western U.S., and how you'd bring diversity to bear on the work, to [email protected] with "VSD Fellowship" in the subject line. The closing date for applications is April 21, 2023. In your email, please let us know how you heard about the position.
High Country News is the nation's leading independent source of thoughtful, in-depth reporting on the Western United States. Established in 1970, HCN produces an award-winning monthly magazine and a popular website, along with email newsletters, special reports, books and events. From Alaska and the Northern Rockies to the Desert Southwest, from the Great Plains to the West Coast, HCN is a beloved and essential resource for those who care about this region. HCN is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit whose mission is to inform and inspire people to act on behalf of the West's diverse natural and human communities.
This fellowship is named for Virginia (“Ginny”) Spencer Davis, who grew up on a ranch in the Sacramento Valley in California, and never forgot her rural roots. She and her husband, Dick, were actively involved in the local land trust, and she helped research Farming on the Edge, a book about saving family farms. She facilitated publication of Storm Over Mono, which chronicles the successful battle to protect the extraordinary Mono Lake ecosystem. Ginny also believed passionately in the importance of education, and created scholarship programs that helped over 70 young people go to college.
The Virginia Spencer Davis Fellowship is a tribute to Ginny’s love of the land, her commitment to a healthy environment, her passion for giving young people opportunities to grow, and her appreciation of superb journalism.
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(correction provided by Gina Gurreri, original poster. Please send any questions to [email protected])