Ida B. Wells

Ida B. Wells Fellowship

The Ida B. Wells Fellowship, founded in 2016, promotes diversity in journalism by helping to create a pipeline of investigative reporters who come from underrepresented backgrounds, and bring those experiences, perspectives, and interests to their work.

The one-year fellowship helps reporters complete their first substantial work of investigative reporting by providing a $25,000 award and intensive mentoring from dedicated editors at Type Investigations. Fellows will also receive funds to cover travel and other reporting costs, and the costs associated with attending the annual Investigative Reporters and Editors conference, as well as an online data reporting boot camp. They will also enjoy access to research resources, legal assistance, and assistance with story placement and publicity.

Type Investigations holds an application process to select the fellows, who are expected to publish or air their findings in a U.S. media outlet within one year of the start of the fellowship. The Ida B. Wells Fellowship is a one-time educational opportunity and is non-renewable. The program also reserves a Southern fellowship for a reporter who is based in and will report from North or South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Kentucky, Texas or Mississippi. The Southern Fellow’s work must appear in an outlet serving this region.

Journalists of color are strongly encouraged to apply, as are other reporters who believe their presence would contribute substantially to diversifying investigative reporting in other ways.

The fellowship honors Ida B. Wells, the pioneering Black activist and investigative reporter who, during the Jim Crow era, led the nation’s first campaign against lynching. Born into slavery and orphaned at age 16, Wells not only dispelled stereotypes regarding rape and lasciviousness that led to Black men and women being lynched, but revealed that often these victims’ only “crimes” were threatening white supremacy through acts of resistance or achievement. She continued her reporting in the face of death threats.

Studies have shown that diverse editorial staffs are essential for producing reporting that is relatable, relevant, and actionable for all audiences. But nearly 90 years after Wells’s death, women and people of color still struggle for acceptance, credibility, and opportunity as investigative reporters.

People of color hold 22 percent of all newsroom jobs, according to a recent survey by the Association of News Leaders, and make up only 19 percent of supervisors; their presence is even smaller on investigative teams. Women are also underrepresented, with 42 percent of newsroom jobs. Earlier survey data indicate that fewer than 10 percent of journalists come from a working-class background.