At the start of the pandemic, some headlines argued that covid-19 was the great equalizer – because anyone, regardless of their circumstances, could catch it. In fact, it was clear that the virus was disproportionately and devastatingly affecting certain groups of Americans.
Black Americans, American Hispanics, Indigenous communities and other people of color have been most affected and die at much higher rates. People in prison have not been protected, and those living in poverty among the hardest hit. Schoolchildren from poorer backgrounds suffer the greatest academic setbacks, with lifelong repercussions.
We know many reasons, including frontline jobs that expose workers to the virus, economic strains, unstable housing and unequal health care that lead to worse outcomes. But there is much more to learn and much more to do about it.
To help explore these issues and help people tell their stories, we’ve teamed up Heising Simons Foundation to create five WITH Technology Review Covid Inequality Scholarships.
Each scholarship provides up to $ 7,500 financial support to help journalists report and produce stories about covidie inequality – and how it is tackled – in undercover communities in the United States. Applicants will be judged by a Expert Group which includes some of the most incisive journalists and savvy experts working today. Fellows will receive supervision and editorial assistance from our award-winning team; and the final results will be published in MIT Technology Review.
Applying for a scholarship is simple: just take a look at our description of what we’re looking for, then start submitting your application.
Who should apply
We offer two types of scholarships.
Freelance scholarships: Apply if you are a freelance journalist who is not already attached to a specific publication. You may come from one of the affected communities that you plan to report on, or you may know an important story about a group that you have come to know well.
Press room scholars: Apply for this if you are a journalist working with a specific outlet, looking for additional support to follow a story that is important to you and the readers you serve.
If you have journalistic background and want to tell stories about how covid affects people – and what’s being done about it –we encourage you to apply.
What we are looking for
Your story – or series of stories – will focus on a specific group of people and show how they were affected by covid-19. It will show human impacts and explore the types of disparities that exist in terms of exposure, safety, treatment or outcomes. It can examine how communities use technology, develop systems, or build alliances to overcome the problems they face.
MIT Technology Review is a publication about emerging technologies and how they are used, so we are particularly interested in:
- The impact of vaccines and their distribution
- Contact tracing, exposure notification and / or use of health data
- How the pandemic is affecting the digital divide
- Workplace virus monitoring and protocols
- The impact of long covid on communities
They are above all human stories, with people at the center and a search for solutions at the heart.
To achieve this, we seek individuals who are committed to telling stories with care and dedication while maintaining high standards and upholding journalistic integrity. You don’t need to have a long history of healthcare or science reporting, but you should be determined, ready to challenge preconceptions, and be comfortable asking for help and follow advice.
What we are not looking for
These scholarships will not produce simplistic disaster narratives that emphasize pre-existing tropes, and we don’t want parachute journalism from journalists who have no history or insight into the communities they write about. This doesn’t mean you have to identify yourself as part of the community you offer to cover, but it does mean you have to show that you can report sensitively and thoroughly – and without putting them at risk during the pandemic.
How we will support your work
Successful applicants will receive up to $ 7,500 to report and publish their stories. The work will be produced in conjunction with the MIT Technology Review and published on our website – or co-published, in the case of newsroom exchanges. This money can be used to cover some or all of the costs associated with the story, including your own time, report expenses, and travel (where safe).
We will provide editorial support to all fellows, with regular check-ins with our editors and advice from our team. For Newsroom Fellows, we will coordinate with your publication team to help you get the most out of the project.
Our panel of judges
Applications will be reviewed by a panel of some of the leading journalists and voices on the topics we review.
Alexis Madrigal is a senior writer at Atlantic and co-founder of the Covid Tracking Project, which compiles, annotates and publishes high-quality data on the epidemic.
Mark J. Rochester is the editor-in-chief of Type Media Center, and previously was senior news director for investigations at Detroit Free Press. He has served on the national board of directors of Investigative Reporters & Editors.
Krystal Tsosie is a Navajo bioethicist and geneticist at Vanderbilt University. She defends research in ethical genomics that respects the rights of indigenous peoples.
Seema Yasmin is an Emmy Award winning journalist, poet, physician and author. She is currently the director of the Stanford Health Communication Initiative at Stanford University and is a regular contributor to the covid pandemic for CNN.
Gideon Lichfield is the editor of MIT Technology Review. He joined the publication in 2017 after serving as a founding editor of Quartz and reported from Moscow, Jerusalem and Mexico City for The Economist.
Applications for scholarships are now open. The deadline for submitting applications is Sunday March 21, 2021. The selected scholarship holders will be announced in early April 2021.
The small print
These scholarships are for the United States only; Fellows must be legally able to work in the United States. Stories should be designed for text: While video and audio can be part of the output, your story should be centered on written journalism, which can include news stories, narratives, or data. Projects do not have a minimum time frame, but drafts must be completed by the end of 2021. All stories will go through review, fact-checking and legal review.
Here are some of the key elements that we will need during the first step of the application process.
- A well-written outline of your story or project of no more than 750 words. We’re looking for a compelling case that gives insight into the people, places, information, and issues you’ll bring to light.
- A reporting plan that includes (a) a proposed timeline and (b) an explanation of how you plan to covid-safe reporting on the communities you focus on. Speed isn’t a factor in our decision, but it’s good to know how you plan to complete the task of researching, reporting, and producing your story.
- A personal written statement (maximum 500 words) telling us about your previous work, your relevant experiences and your connection to the community you propose to cover.
- Three samples of original works. If this is not available for free online (for example, it is behind a paywall, or only available in print), please provide PDF files.
- Applicants for an Essay Fellowship will be required to submit a letterhead statement confirming that you have support for your publication.
Shortlisted applicants will be asked to provide more information, including a breakdown of how they would spend the scholarship, complete a questionnaire on the risks their project faces, and provide two letters of recommendation.
If you have any questions about this application process, you can contact Editor-in-Chief Bobbie Johnson at E-mail.