As News Industry Shrinks, UC Berkeley Announces Food and Farming Reporting Fellowship

This week, the Pew Research Center issued its annual State of the News Media report, chronicling a shrinking, some might say anemic, news industry. Employment at newspapers is down 30 percent since 2000, dropping below 40,000 people for the first time since 1978. The quality of reporting at many news outlets has fallen as budgets are squeezed and staff cut.

Television news viewership is down too. The Pew report found that sports, weather and traffic now account for 40 percent of local TV programming. “This adds up to a news industry that is more undermanned and unprepared to uncover stories, dig deep into emerging ones or to question information put into its hands,” reads the Pew report’s introduction.

Sure, online only news sites have helped fill in some of the gaps and information sharing tools like Twitter have emerged to distribute news. Still, it is becoming much harder for young reporters to find a footing, and more importantly make a living,  in journalism. And complicated stories, those requiring time and resources to report, are in many cases going unreported and unwritten.

In an effort to foster early and mid-career journalists who want to work on ambitious food and agriculture related stories, we are excited to announce a new $10,000 fellowship at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. If you’ve got a story idea, we want to hear it.  Applications are due April 1. Click here for all the info and to access the online application.

The UC Berkeley-11th Hour Food and Farming Journalism Fellowship is aimed at early and mid-career journalists working in print and radio (we’ll be expanding to include video and multimedia stories starting in 2014 so start collecting story ideas for next year all you documentary, video and data visualization people).

The Fellowship presents an opportunity to report big stories about agricultural and nutritional policy, the food industry, food science, technology and culture, rural and urban farming, agriculture and the environment, global trade and supply chains and public health as it relates to food.

“Interest in food and farming issues has never been so high,” says Michael Pollan, the fellowship director and John S. and James L. Knight Professor of Journalism at UC Berkeley. “A whole new beat is being born, and with this Fellowship we hope to nurture the next generation of journalists seeking to treat food not as a lifestyle feature subject, as it had been for decades, but as a critical public issue much like health, energy, or the environment.”

To find out more about the timing, application process and eligibility requirements go here. We look forward to seeing your story ideas.

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