Brief Introduction of Fellow Programmes for Journalists

AU Ka Lun - Knight Fellow 2006

[Apr 2006 - The Journalist] I always find it hard to describe what exactly the Knight Fellowship is, what do I do and study in this fellow programme. In brief, I say this is an unbelievable truth: a self-study programme for journalists, in a relaxing atmosphere of campus, far away from the newsroom deadline, to reflect, and deliberate those that you have been always wanted.

The John S. Knight professional journalism fellowships at Stanford will select around 20 journalists every year. I am accepted as one of the fellows this year; twelve of them are Americans, another eight of them are from the different parts of world (including Nepal, Philippines, South Korea, U.K., Poland, Colombia, Chile, and Mexico). Among them there are reporters, editors, columnists, cartoonists. Since last year September, we, again, restarted our campus life, and share ourselves with people around the world. This fellowship is so fascinating that I can’t stop recommending and sharing with you. The characteristics of the fellowship include: Individualized self study; no academic achievement requirement and no title; partner or spouse can study together; lastly, good stipend.

There are three major Fellowships for professional journalists. The eligibility, terms, and stipend are similar among three. For more details, you can visit the following websites. (Reminder: the deadline of 06-07 application has already passed.)

Knight Fellowship, Stanford University

Nieman Fellowship, Harvard University

Knight-Wallace Fellowship, University of Michigan

Regarding programme reputation, of course, Harvest University is on the top of the list, and also its fellow programme has the longest history. Stanford, located in Silicon Valley on the west coast, is famous for its biotechnology, Business, Law and Medical School. I am in Stanford now, certainly, I need to say it is wonderful to be here. But, if excluding the factor of comparing their academic achievements, my American fellows also agreed that they will choose to study in Stanford (west coast) rather than the Harvard (east coast) because of its pleasant weather. Clearly, the modest weather in Stanford, no matter in summer or winter, is always better than the chilling snow in Harvard’s winter. The University of Michigan, although its reputation is not higher than Harvard and Stanford, its School of Communication is very well known.

As the scarce supply of the fellowships cannot meet the worldwide demand, some of my fellows only accepted when they applied for the second time because of the fierce competition. Each fellowship programme normally reserves one quota for Chinese journalist. The disadvantage of the Hong Kong journalists now is Hong Kong has become a dull Chinese city after the handover, and not much Americans are interested in Hong Kong. I believe the colleagues, with China experience and worldwide vision, are more advantageous. From my observation, they tend to select those in their mid-career, a minimal eight years working experience, aged 35-45, the requirement of registration isn’t harsh. In principle you need to have acceptable level of English, passion in journalism, and the organisations you work for approve a year-off leave.