A New Kind of Journalism Education
Our curriculum combines mentored freelancing to major media with courses in journalism, freelance tradecraft and seminars in global affairs. And because Fellows’ needs are different, this journalism Fellowship is flexible; you can report in a way that works both for you and for the clients with whom we match you. Our coaching continues for two years after you graduate, for no additional fees.
This Journalism Fellowship is built on four pillars:
1. The Boot Camp (Sept 1, 2015 to Oct 9, 2015)
The Fellowship begins with a six-week boot camp, during which Fellows learn the foundations of journalism. This is the only part of the program requiring full-day attendance.
During the boot camp:
- Story ideas and news judgment. Successful journalism starts with great story ideas. Fellows begin boot camp by learning news judgment from seasoned editors and correspondents: How to find news stories on your beat, and how to distinguish strong story ideas from weak ones. Instruction by director and bureau chief Rob Steiner (former Wall Street Journal foreign correspondent)
- Pitching. A story idea is only a strong as the pitch that a reporter makes to an editor. Pitching is a precise art. Editors in our program teach Fellows how to structure story pitches that work. Instruction by director and bureau chief Rob Steiner (former Wall Street Journal foreign correspondent)
- Mobile video and audio newsgathering. Fellows learn how to use their smartphones to shoot news-quality video and record news quality audio, edit packages on their laptops, and file TV and radio packages from the field. Instruction by David Common (Host of CBC’s World Report and CBC News Correspondent).
- Video and audio storytelling. Fellows learn how to cover complex news in 90-second spots for video / TV, and audio / radio. They also learn the components of longer-form video and audio reporting. Instruction by Cynthia Kinch (former executive producer of CBC National News), David Common (Host of CBC’s World Report and CBC News Correspondent) and Jamie Purdon (CBC’s former head of newsgathering).
- Reporting essentials. Fellows begin learning how to break news with an efficient and thorough reporting strategy, and how to investigate controversial stories responsibly. Instruction by Rob Cribb, investigations reporter at the Toronto Star.
- Structuring the 600-800 word news feature. Fellows learn how to cover complex news in the form of a compelling feature, up to 800 words in length -- the typical space that most news services make available. Instruction by bureau chiefs Rob Steiner (former Wall Street Journal foreign correspondent), Bernard Simon (former Financial Times foreign correspondent) and Colin Mackenzie (former Toronto Star and Globe and Mail editor).
- Writing and self-Editing. Fellows learn to write in clear and compelling language, and edit themselves to make sure that the copy they file to clients is accurate, compelling and strong. Instruction by Shelley Robertson, formerly a senior editor with the Toronto Star and a longstanding journalism instructor at Ryerson University.
2. Mentored freelancing to major media
Fellows with advanced knowledge of a discipline can offer news organizations value as freelance journalists right away. Immediately after the boot-camp, Fellows begin building a portfolio of reporting in major media—and a network of global contacts and sources.
- Primary Freelance Arrangements. Each Fellow is part of a pool reporting for members of our media network. These have included: The Globe and Mail, CBC News, The Toronto Star, Postmedia Network, The Dallas Morning News and Trustlaw (a global service of the Thomson Reuters Foundation). Fellows will then cover their own disciplines as freelancers to those news organizations throughout the program. This work takes precedence over course-work and over other freelance work.
- Secondary Freelance Work. Specialized journalists become “go-to” reporters for media around the world that need such expertise. That means Fellows must learn to work for more than one freelance client at a time. We support Fellows as they pitch and file stories to other media around the world, including specialized media focused on a Fellow’s own discipline.
- Mentorship. Mentorship sets this Fellowship apart from other journalism schools, and ensures that Fellows are supported in a way that few freelancers are at the beginning of their journalism careers.
We assign each Fellow to a five-person ‘bureau’, under the leadership of an experienced journalist acting as ‘bureau chief’. The ‘bureau chief’ mentors them individually on their story judgment, pitching, reporting, and writing. Our journalism mentorship has four dimensions:
- The Story Meeting. Fellows meet as a group every week to review pitches and past experiences and career planning with their mentors.
- Editing. Mentors edit the first drafts of every story a Fellow writes, before it’s filed to media clients. Editing is treated as a core learning experience.
- One-on-Ones. Mentors meet Fellows individually to discuss any challenges the Fellow may be facing, and to signal successes Fellows may not be aware they have had.
- The Newsroom. Fellows have the opportunity to do their reporting, writing and editing together in a shared space, where they can compare lessons and act as a resource for one another.
3. Classroom Curriculum (Oct. 12, 2015 to April 22, 2016)
After the boot camp, we continue to deepen Fellows’ journalism skills with a part-time curriculum that involves no homework. Our courses include:
- Investigative Journalism. A continuation of the reporting class taught in the boot camp. Fellows learn sophisticated techniques for investigating controversial stories responsibly. Instruction by Rob Cribb, investigations reporter at the Toronto Star.
- Writing. A continuation of the writing class taught in boot-camp. Fellows learn to write in clear and compelling language, and edit themselves to make sure that the copy they file to clients is accurate, compelling and strong. Instruction by Shelley Robertson, formerly a senior editor with the Toronto Star and a longstanding journalism instructor at Ryerson University.
- Freelance Tradecraft. Fellows learn how to compete globally as freelancers for major media, how to sustain their businesses, and how to keep themselves and their sources safe while reporting from the field. Instruction by a global network of award-winning freelancers, as well as financial advisors, and safety experts. We deliver this course in partnership with the Rory Peck Trust (UK).
- Deep Interviewing skills. Fellows learn how to use the methods of clinical social work to conduct deeper interviews with sources who have complex and challenging stories to tell. Instruction by Prof. Andrea Litvack, Director, Master of Social Work program, Factor Inwentash Faculty of Social Work.).
- Performance. Fellows learn the basic skills of performing before a camera or in front of a radio mic, so that you can file video and audio reports from the field and build a strong reputation for performance as a guest specialist on TV and radio shows. Instruction by Danielle Bochove, backfill host of CBC Television's The Lang & O'Leary Exchange, as well as a frequent contributor to other CBC television and radio programs.
- Global dynamics seminar. Fellows engage in seminar-style discussions about emerging topics in global dynamics with scholars from the Munk School of Global Affairs, Canada's leading centre in the field.
4. Coaching for two years after the program (May 2016 – May 2018)
Fellows continue to receive free journalism coaching for two years after the program, through monthly bureau meetings with the program’s bureau chiefs. Fellows can attend the monthly meetings in person in Toronto or online from anywhere in the world.
Fellows graduate in April 2016 with a Certificate in Global Journalism from the Munk School of Global Affairs in the University of Toronto.