Fellowship in Higher Education Journalism
There is a marked shortage of informed investigative reporting on Canadian higher education issues in the Canadian media. The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) Fellowship is intended to help address this gap, and support those wishing to pursue in-depth journalism on higher education. Applicants with insightful, imaginative, and innovative perspectives on a wide range of higher education issues are encouraged to apply.
Design and requirements
An annual Fellowship will be given to an investigative research project in the area of Canadian higher education, including Canadian higher education in a provincial, national, or international context. Applications focusing on any topic within this area are welcomed, including public policy, labour relations, the academic labour market, governance, financing, teaching, research, librarianship and information management, demographics, education quality, free speech and academic freedom, equity and diversity, indigeneity, and reconciliation.
The winning project will have to include new investigative research and analysis – it cannot simply replicate research that already exists or is in progress, although it can draw on this research. Emphasis will be placed on supporting projects that are innovative and encourage new ways of thinking about the issues examined, including the use of new digital media publishing and distribution platforms.
The Fellowship is valued at $10,000 for one year and administered by OCUFA. The first half of the Fellowship is payable at the start of the project and the second half upon completion of the project. The Fellowship winner will have to complete and publish and/or broadcast the investigative research project within a year of being granted the Fellowship, and a six-month interim progress report will be required. OCUFA will not exercise any editorial control or judgment over the project.
The Fellowship is intended to cover the costs involved in research and reporting, hired equipment, and travel. If requested, OCUFA will help identify and cover the costs for mentorship from an appropriate senior journalist to help guide the applicant through to the publication and/or broadcast of the project.
All publication and/or broadcast of the work funded by the Fellowship will cite financial support from the OCUFA Fellowship in Higher Education Journalism. Published work will remain the intellectual property of the Fellowship winner, but OCUFA reserves the right to publish the project in OCUFA’s journal of higher education, Academic Matters (both online and in print), and in the promotion of the Fellowship.
Upon completion of the project, the Fellowship winner will be required to submit a reflective essay of 500 words or less for use on the OCUFA Fellowship in Higher Education Journalism section of the OCUFA and Academic Matters websites. The reflective essay will speak to the insights gained while researching, developing an analysis, and publishing or broadcasting the project. The Fellowship winner will also be expected to give a short presentation to OCUFA’s Board of Directors once the project has been completed.
The Fellowship will be open to Canadians, permanent residents, and non-Canadians holding a valid work permit, who work in any medium as freelancers, part-time, or full-time employees. Student journalists working for university campus media and students currently enrolled in graduate-level journalism or equivalent programs will also be eligible. Submissions from teams of journalists will be accepted as well.
Applicants have to agree to follow the Canadian Association of Journalists’ ethics guidelines.
Each year, OCUFA will solicit applications for innovative investigative research projects.
Applicants will submit in English or French an application package that includes:
- A resume.
- A clearly-focused and well-written story pitch limited to 300 words demonstrating understanding of and insight into the proposed research area, and highlighting its relevance to a Canadian audience and potential impact on higher education and general public policy.
- A reporting plan of up to 500 words outlining how the work will be researched, produced, pitched to media outlets, and published and/or broadcast within the year the Fellowship is provided.
- A detailed budget outlining the planned expenditures for the Fellowship funding.
- A maximum of three clips or writing samples. Those working in digital media, radio, or television can submit samples in their respective medium.
- Up to three professional letters of reference of no more than two pages each from supervising editors familiar with the applicant’s work. Graduate students can arrange for a letter of reference from a faculty member speaking to their ability to successfully undertake the investigative research project.
- A letter from a well-respected and established media outlet expressing interest in publishing or broadcasting the completed project in English or French (optional).
Selection process and criteria
The selection committee will include two faculty members from university schools of journalism and communication, an established practicing senior journalist, a faculty member with research expertise in higher education, a student representative, an OCUFA Executive member, OCUFA’s Executive Director, and OCUFA’s communication staff lead.
Preference will be given to:
- Applicants who demonstrate a capacity for independent, incisive, insightful analysis and innovative storytelling with a commendable record of accomplishment, as evidenced by high quality published or broadcast work;
- Proposals that are informed by social, economic, or political justice considerations, which have important implications for Canadian public and higher education policy, and are intended to bring about positive change;
- Proposals with a detailed strategy for publication or broadcast and dissemination, intended to generate interest and discussion of the issues examined, including details of how to attract and engage audiences electronically and in other formats prior to and after publication. The digital strategy should include the audio and/or visual dimensions that will be used (e.g. video, animation, photography, podcasting, webcasting etc.) that will actively engage the public and ensure that the work remains available in an electronic format.