INN and Columbia Journalism School partner on new internship program

Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, responding to a news media job market in crisis due to the COVID-19 virus, is collaborating with two non-profit news organizations to provide graduating students with paid internships and reporting grants to support their transitions to professional journalism.

The Columbia Journalism School Internship and Grants Program will support as many as 25 full-time, 10 to 12-week paid internships at non-profit news media companies through a partnership with the Institute for Nonprofit News. And separately, the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting has established a dedicated $50,000 fund to award grants, each one generally under $5,000, so graduates can continue work on their theses or develop other freelance stories to be pitched for publication.

The new investments in graduating students complement existing postgraduate fellowships and grants at the Journalism School which fund investigative reporting, international reporting, and coverage of the media at Columbia Journalism Review. The new effort recognizes that the media environment, constrained by safety practices to contain the COVID-19 virus, has created extraordinary challenges for the class of 2020, as news organizations reduce, postpone or eliminate internship programs and other positions.

“The Class of 2020 will forever be remembered for the disruption it has endured this spring because of the pandemic and the sudden emergence of New York as an epicenter of the crisis,” said Steve Coll, Dean and Henry R. Luce Professor of Journalism at Columbia. “We are very pleased that the Institute for Nonprofit News and the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting have been able to join with us so quickly and creatively to support the transition of our outstanding graduates to their careers in professional journalism.”

“Nonprofit newsrooms have become central information sources about COVID-19 and are puncturing walls of secrecy around medical risks and resources,” said Sue Cross, INN’s executive director and CEO. “We are grateful that through these internships, Columbia graduates can join in and add to the vital reporting that will help people get through this crisis and rebuild our social health and safety nets.”

In the internship program, Columbia will sponsor and pay for graduating students to work as reporting interns around the country, and possibly abroad, during the summer or fall months. In the collaboration, INN will arrange for some of its 250 member news organizations to recruit and select graduates from the class of 2020 into paid editorial reporting jobs.

With the Columbia support, the Pulitzer Center will solicit proposals from the class of 2020 to report on enterprising stories focused on crisis anywhere in the world.

Graduates could begin their internships as early as May, following graduation, but many likely will take place during the fall, given the disruptions news organizations are likely to face over the summer.

Students in all of the school’s master’s degree programs, including international scholars, will be eligible to apply directly to the employers, who will oversee their work.

In all, Columbia Journalism will be graduating about 275 masters’ students in May.

In addition to the positions at INN members, the Journalism School will create about five additional paid internships at for-profit news organizations as part of the program.

Through contributions to the Journalism School’s Annual Fund, funding is also being made available this spring to students facing other hardship as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

INN was founded in 2009 as an investigative news consortium. It works to strengthen the trusted sources of news by growing a network of nonprofit, nonpartisan news organizations. With more than 2,000 journalists in the INN network now generating some 150,000 original reports a year, the network’s news footprint is now similar in scale to NPR and the NPR affiliate network. INN members share news coverage, editorial and business resources and function as an innovation network developing new models for news media.

The Pulitzer Center, founded almost 15 years ago, already collaborates with Columbia Journalism School’s documentary filmmaking program to support students’ longform video projects.

With its beginning in 2006, the Pulitzer Center began by making reporting grants for international projects, and today has almost a dozen grant programs for journalists in various specialties, including a recently-created fund to support reporting on the Covid-19 crisis.