The basic goal of the fellowship program is to enable journalists to lay aside their narrow focus on getting “the story,” and instead explore science, technology, and the craft of journalism more deeply and more broadly. Knight Fellows have the opportunity to follow intellectual digressions, to learn the history of a field, to understand how scientists and engineers pursue their work, and to explore the storytelling opportunities arising in today’s fast-changing media environment. With more background knowledge, Fellows return to their careers more confident about asking the right questions, and in turn are better prepared to communicate science and technology to their audiences.
Fellows receive a stipend of $70,000 as well as some additional benefits. The program is divided between programs arranged by the Knight Science Journalism Fellowships and self-directed activities, which may include a media project or publication. KSJ also plans activities to help build a sense of community. Fellows often report that life in Cambridge and the sense of collegiality within the Fellowship are rewarding aspects of the year.
Each Fellow designs his or her own course of study in discussion with the director. Some Fellows audit two or more courses per semester at MIT and Harvard. Others choose to spend time in a lab. A Fellow’s work usually includes courses, attendance at departmental colloquia, research trips, lab visits, interviews, reading, and writing. Fellows must refrain from paid professional work, unless prior permission is granted by the director.
Fellows are required to attend at least one science- or engineering-related course per semester at Harvard or MIT (chosen in consultation with the director). Near the end of each semester, each Fellow is expected to make a 20-minute presentation to the other Fellows of some relevant portion of what was learned.
Knight Fellowship Programs and Activities
In addition to attending their individually selected classes and pursuing their projects, Fellows are expected to attend the following programs:
Seminars: Fellows meet regularly for seminars with top researchers and media professionals. Sometimes the presenter comes to us, and sometimes we visit them in their labs or workplaces. A few seminars are devoted to the craft of science and technology writing and issues involving interactions between science, technology, and society.
Field Trips: The program organizes several trips each year to locations of special interest to science and technology writers. Past destinations have included the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA, the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, ME, and the Harvard Forest in Petersham, MA.
Digital Media Training: The number of storytelling channels open to journalists is multiplying, and we want our Fellows to return to the workforce with more technical skills than they had coming in. We offer training workshops in various technologies, including video and audio capture, still photography, digital editing, and Web design and publishing.
Workshops: Occasionally the program organizes special 1- or 2-day workshops on science, technology, and journalism issues. Knight Fellows gain automatic admission to these workshops.
Stipends & Benefits
Beginning in 2015-16 Fellows will receive a stipend of $70,000, divided into ten installments over the academic year. The stipend is awarded to all Fellows, regardless of nationality.
Health Insurance: Fellows who elect to participate in the MIT Affiliate Health Insurance program may have their own coverage paid by Knight Science Journalism at MIT. Fellows who wish for their spouses and children to join the same plan must arrange to pay the cost for their families.
Access to everything at MIT and Harvard: With few exceptions, all MIT and Harvard University courses are available for audit by Knight Fellows.
To be awarded our 9-month academic year Fellowship, selected applicants must agree to the following requirements:
- To reside full-time in the Boston/Cambridge area for the academic year: August 15 through May 15.
- To attend all seminars, field trips, workshops, and new media training sessions arranged by the Knight Science Journalism program.
- To participate in at least one science or engineering course per semester.
- To refrain from professional work during the Fellowship, unless written permission has been granted by the Director.
- For international candidates: To obtain a J-1 visa from the U.S. State Department after being awarded the Fellowship.
Applicants are selected each spring by a panel of leading journalists and MIT faculty. All application materials must be received by midnight, Eastern Standard Time, on February 28. Finalists are chosen in mid-April and are interviewed by Internet video or telephone. Winners are announced by early May.