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NABJ Ethel Payne Fellowship
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Ethel Payne Fellowship

The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) is bringing back the NABJ Ethel Payne Fellowship after a 10-year hiatus. The NABJEthel Payne Fellowship is a $5,000 award bestowed to a worthy journalist. The travel award provides an opportunity for an NABJ member to gain foreign correspondence experience in Africa and the necessary assistance to complete a project or singular report on Africa. The fellowship is named for the first female, African-American commentator employed by a U.S. network when CBS hired her in 1972. Known as the “First Lady of the Black Press,” Payne, a Chicago native, was a lecturer and columnist whose eloquent advocacy while reporting on the civil rights movement during the 1950s and 1960s gained her national fame. Payne, who died in 1991, was the first African-American female journalist to focus on international news reporting. The fellowship was established to provide rich coverage of the African continent beyond the common storylines of HIV/AIDS, famine and war. Proposed projects are encouraged to tell the untold and dynamic stories of Africa and African people. The winning fellow must finish their travel to Africa and publish their story/project by June 1, 2020.

Previous Ethel Payne Fellowship Awardees

2009 Jori Lewis, freelance radio, multimedia and print reporter

2008 DeShong Smitherman, WTHR-TV, Indianapolis
Cynthia R. Greelee, a freelance journalist and Duke University doctoral student

2007 Katti Gray, a freelance journalist
Bonnie Newman Davis, Virginia Commonwealth University of Mass Communications

2005 Bob Butler, CBS Corporation
Tanyanika Samuels, journalist

2003  Sarah Glover


2019 Ethel Payne Fellowship Timeline

Application open date: July 16, 2019

Application due date: Aug. 2, 2019

Travel to Africa to be completed by: March 1, 2020

Proposed Project/Story to be published by:  June 1, 2020


Fellowship criteria and requirements are listed below.

  • Must be a current full-time NABJ member in good standing
  • Midcareer and veteran journalists with at least 7 years full-time journalism experience
  • Fellowship winner agrees to sign a waiver of consent to provide NABJ with expressed written consent to publish the final story and its elements (text, videos, photos), and to use the winner’s name, image and likeness in materials related to promoting the award
  • Fellowship winner agrees to name the National Association of Black Journalists as supporter in its publication materials; suggested wording to come at a later date
  • Funds distributed to the winner are taxable, as required by law, and the responsibility of the winner
  • Valid passport is required for travel. Applicant is responsible for securing their own passport, travel arrangements, appropriate visas, up to date vaccinations and medical coverage/insurance. Applicant will be required to sign a waiver to confirm the aforementioned and to release NABJ from any liability associated with travel. 
  • Additional requirements below


Click HERE to apply.

This application must be submitted with the information listed below. Applications submitted without required information will be disqualified.

  • Upload a statement explaining the proposed topic, issue or event you will report on in Africa as an NABJ Ethel Payne Fellow. The statement should explain the topic’s significance and when you plan to travel to Africa. Explain what the completed project’s publication components are (what platforms do you plan to publish on), and what media outlet will publish the completed story. If you are a freelancer, please indicate what organizations you intend to pitch the story to (not to exceed 800 words).
  • Upload an essay that describes your journalistic experience (not to exceed 300 words).
  • Upload three recent samples of your work.
  • Upload two letters of recommendation from persons familiar with your work.
  • Upload your resume.



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