Call for Applications: 2021-2022 Freedomways Reporting Project
The Freedomways Reporting Project is looking to bring together five journalists, storytellers, community organizers, and those at that intersection for a six-month virtual training program in the principles of movement journalism, which we define as journalism in service to liberation. This does not mean turning journalists into soapboxes for activists, but rather fostering collaboration between journalists and grassroots movements, and supporting oppressed and marginalized people to create justice-oriented journalism.
This program takes its name from the journal Freedomways, which published the work of journalists, artists, thinkers, and organizers who were integral to the Black freedom movement. In that same spirit, participants in the Freedomways Reporting Project receive mentorship and technical support to produce work rooted in relationships with social movements and communities on the frontlines of struggle.
The Press On team and a robust list of guest trainers will lead the cohort through a curriculum tailormade to equip southern storytellers that have deep community and/or movement ties with the tools to produce stories and develop engagement reporting strategies.
Over the course of the six-month program, Freedomways participants will choose between two tracks:
- Reporting: Develop and publish a narrative-driven, investigative story that identifies needs and critical justice-related issues in their local communities.
- Engagement: Create the framework for and begin implementing a strategy to assist with their community’s media needs (e.g. crowdsourcing data, listening series, aiding rural communities with low-broadband, testing creative ways to share information such as pamphlets, comics, or newsletters.)
All participants will be expected to:
- Publish an essay specifically for Freedomways, in the spirit of our namesake publication.
- Receive $7,500 in compensation for their participation in the program and production of their reporting project, in addition to $1,000 for project-related expenses.
- Participate in this program virtually, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s a rough sketch of what that might look like:
- Monthly training webinars with leading movement journalists, thinkers, activists, researchers who will address issues the cohort is tackling in their communities and skill-building in areas such as story crafting, developing sources, research, and measuring story impact.
- Recurring check-ins with the cohort mentor, Press On staff, and Freedomways manager.
- Press On will provide technical support to ensure equal participation, and we commit to going above-and-beyond to ensure that we build community with each other from afar.
This year, marking the Reporting Project’s second class, our curriculum will revolve around a theme: Home. We want this cohort to report on and engage communities with topics such as (but not limited to):
- Water access
- Economic identity
- Being unhoused, displaced
- Land disappearance
- The body as a home
This is a program focused on power-building in the South. We will consider applications based in the following 14 states: Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, and Georgia.
In our aim to strengthen journalism driven by people who are building power within marginalized and oppressed communities, we encourage candidates of all backgrounds to apply.
Folks who are Black, Indigenous, queer, trans, non-binary, immigrants, people of color, live in rural communities, parents, are/have been system-impacted, have different abilities, are immigrants, and anyone who has experienced systemic oppression and/or gender-based violence are encouraged to apply. We seek participants who are flexible, constructive and willing to help us improve this approach to shared learning and community building.
Applicants that identify from the categories below are strongly encouraged to apply:
- Community Media: Those who work in or are affiliated with community and rural media outlets, including those from non-traditional outlets
- Organizers: Storytellers who produce narratives that drive community-building campaigns across social movements
- Freelance journalists: Independent reporters focused on community-driven storytelling looking to deepen their reporting on a local issue or community
- Mid-Career journalists: Reporters transitioning from legacy news organizations to independent media with an interest in community-driven reporting
There is no such thing as a perfect applicant. Even if you do not fit all of the criteria around experience, those with a desire to produce movement journalism in the South are strongly encouraged to apply.
Here are some important dates for applicants to keep in mind:
- Our cohort will be selected and notified by September 2
- Orientation will take place the week of September 20
- Press On will observe the following holidays that fall during during the reporting project: Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Veterans’ Day, Transgender Day of Remembrance / Resilience, National Day of Mourning, MLK Day. We are also offline for our Winter Break from December 20 to January 4.
- The program will wrap up in March 2022.
Please fill out this application.
The deadline for applications is Sunday, August 22, at 11:59 p.m. CDT. For those with varying needs, you can also upload a video or audio version of your application and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org by the deadline.
- Do I have to be based in the U.S. South full time?
- Yes, in one of these 14 states: Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, and Georgia.
- Is this a full-time commitment?
- No. Everyone, including Press On’s staff, juggles other commitments. This will be part-time. Full-time reporters participated in last year’s program. We’ll just ask your newsroom, or other applicable employer, for a letter of support to participate so that the time commitment is clear.
- Can you list multiple ideas you’re interested in pursuing as a reporting or engagement project?
- Yes! If you have one that your heart is set on, that’s fine too. But if you’re interested in a range of ideas, please share them. We’re not expecting them to be fully formed, and we will dedicate time during the program to flush them out.
- Will we be working with other applicants on a project or working solo?
- We are only accepting applications from individuals, but should collaboration emerge between members of the selected cohort, we would welcome that!
- What should I submit as work samples if I have no formal writing experience?
- This program is best suited for people with some sort of storytelling experience. We welcome applicants with multimedia experience as well. But since the program has a focus on writing in the spirit of the Freedomways journal we take our name from, it’s important for us to see what experience applicants have in this realm. We also accept writing samples from coursework or blogs.
- What did past participants produce during the program?
- You can check out the work from our amazing alumni of the 2019-2020 program here.