SFJ is now taking applications for its 2016 Penny Bender Fuchs Diversity Fellowship for journalists of color.
The fellowship covers all costs to attend our 2016 conference in Austin, Texas, from Aug. 9-14. Conference programming will focus on storytelling on all platforms.
Applicants should have a high interest in features journalism.
Deadline for applying is May 5.
Sofiya Ballin was one of the two 2015 Penny Bender Fuchs diversity fellows.
I started the SFJ fellowship with my mind on two of the largest reporting weekends on the horizon: Made In America and the Pope’s visit to Philadelphia.
I was feeling very journo’d out and I left full of fresh ideas for how I would contribute to the coverage. Meeting and sharing stories and ideas with reporters and editors across the country was exhilarating.
Though I’ve been at the Philadelphia Inquirer for almost a year, during the conference I was able to better understand what goes into producing the paper. More importantly, I understand better the challenges in our industry that go far beyond reporting stories.
Touring the Washington Post, listening to Pulitzer Prize winning journalists, and observing Michael Cavna and others share showed me how there’s no one way to tell a story and engage audiences. And that when it comes to the future of journalism, the pathway has to be filled with creativity, courage and many entry points.
Ada Tseng, one of two 2015 Penny Bender Fuchs diversity fellows.
It was such an honor to attend the 2015 Society of Features Conference as a Diversity Fellow. I’ve never walked out of a conference feeling so full of energy and new ideas.
From the very first panel — featuring The Washington Post’s Caitlin Dewey, who talked about the value of creating personal newsletters; Atlantic Media’s Tim Ebner, who proposed creative ways of working with sponsors in order to fund journalism, and The Arizona Republic’s Megan Finnerty, who discussed using live events to build diverse communities — it was clear that this conference was going to be about change.
With change comes the anxiety of the unknown, but it also gives us an opportunity for self-analysis. As journalists, what are our core values that we can’t afford to compromise? What are some traditions that would be better left behind?
In 2012, the SFJ convention at the University of Maryland included a trip to the Newseum.
We are on Crowdrise! Check us out at https://www.crowdrise.com/sfj2015/fundraiser/sfjfoundation
Crowdrise is a great way to build support for the work SFJ does. Own main goal is to underwrite the costs of our diversity fellowship program and to launch a mentorship program for student journalists.
Thanks to about a dozen donors so far, we’ve raised $765 — almost enough to underwrite the total cost for one diversity fellow to attend our annual convention! We love having the fellows there because we get to learn from each other. It’s all about sharing.
So let’s keep it going.
Here’s what your donation will do for SFJ Diversity Fellows:
$35: Shuttle from the airport to the University of Maryland
$50: Underwrite the costs for a fellow to attend an SFJ panel discussion on how to help your newsroom make the transition to digital; or a session on ‘show-and-steal’ content ideas to drive traffic and engage readers; or training on how to sharpen your quick video skills.
$75: Shuttle to Washington for Q/A session with columnist Gene Weingarten and followed by a reception with editor Marty Baron.
$150: Foot the bill for one night at the conference hotel.
$1,000: Underwrite the total cost for one fellow.
$5,000-$10,000: Help SFJ launch a mentorship program that pairs professionals with college journalism students, including a weekend writing bootcamp in Washington D.C., distance learning and ongoing personal mentorship.
The SFJ Foundation is a 501c3, and your donations are tax deductible.
Congratulations to the 2015 Penny Bender Fuchs Diversity Fellows!
They were chosen on the basis of experience, multimedia and writing skills and what they could learn and give back to SFJ.
Sofiya Ballin is a features reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer. She began her writing career at 17, crafting personal stories about growing up natural for natural hair website, The Coil Review, which ended after 7 years.
An award-winning journalist at Temple University, she also reported and edited for JUMP Philly music magazine, contributed pieces to Ebony.com, became a blogger for Huffington Post, interned at the Philadelphia Daily News, and freelanced for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Ballin joined the Inquirer’s features staff in 2014 after graduation. During her short tenure, she has interviewed mainstream artists and introduced readers to up-and-coming talents, written about trends such as cuffing season and the emergence of Black Twitter, covered major news events such as local Ferguson and Baltimore protests, photographed and produced digital fashion features, and contributed opinion pieces that speak to the millennial soul. Ballin aims to humanize all walks of life through mentorship and her work.
Ada Tseng is a writer and editor based in Southern California, and for the last decade, she’s covered pan-Asian arts and entertainment for Asia Pacific Arts, Audrey Magazine, XFINITY Asia, KoreAm Journal, LA Weekly and more. She hosts a podcast called Bullet Train where she turns silly episodes (about Japanese romance simulation games and “American Ninja Warrior,” for example) into serious explorations (of love and remakes, respectively). She has a series called “Haikus with Hotties.” She studied at UCLA and received her MFA in Writing and Literature at the Bennington Writings Seminars. And she loves writing long feature stories on topics that aren’t being covered in the mainstream media.
2015 Penny Bender Fuchs Diversity Fellowship
When: Aug. 26-29, 2015, at the University of Maryland
Sponsor: Society for Features Journalism
Who is this for: Journalists of color who produce arts and features content for news organizations or those interested in pursuing careers in arts and features journalism.
What it covers: Travel and lodging costs to our annual conference, plus a $300 stipend for conference-related expenses.
Application deadline: May 22, 2015
The Society for Features Journalism is committed to developing news-gathering staffs representative of the multicultural communities its members serve. Toward this goal, SFJ is sponsoring the Penny Bender Fuchs Diversity Fellowship Program for journalists of color in conjunction with its annual conference at the University of Maryland. Programming will have heavy emphasis on multimedia, leadership and writing.
The Penny Bender Fuchs Diversity Fellowship winners, Mariecar Mendoza and Denise Watson, reflect on their time at the 2014 SFJ annual conference:
During a time in the media industry where metrics and analytics rule many newsrooms, it’s refreshing to know that there is a still a smart, creative group of enthusiastic people who champion the art of storytelling.
What’s more, they’re focused on storytelling about music that moves, food that strengthens bonds with loved ones – or helps folks with their gastrointestinal tract.
That’s the biggest takeaway I got from my first Society of Features Journalism conference, hosted in Nashville this summer.
When I was a teen, I always dreamed of being in the same room with arts and entertainment writers and editors who understood the importance of what most newsrooms scornfully dub “fun journalism.” This year, not only got nearly a week with them, but I got real time with them to bounce around ideas – steal a few ideas, too – and find out how they’re dealing with this digital world that has everyone working on so many platforms at such a fast pace.
Tommy Tomlinson, a writer for Forbes, probably summed up what features writing means to me when he told the attentive crowd of SFJers: “I like to write big stories out of little moments.”