New Crop Of Nieman Fellows Chosen

Twenty-five of the world’s most accomplished journalists were selected this Monday as Fellows at Harvard’s Nieman Foundation for Journalism.

The prestigious award, in its 64th year is granted annually to around twenty-four of the most qualified mid-career journalists from across the globe.

This year’s pool boasted 210 applicants for the award.

The fellows are given the opportunity to study in any area at Harvard for a full academic year while receiving a $50,000 stipend.

“The Neiman fellows were endowed to elevate the standards of journalism,” said Deputy Curator Seth A. Effron. “We feel it is an outstanding group of U.S. and international journalists who have accomplished a lot in their career and show great promise at being future leaders in journalism.”

The mid-career fellowship usually draws people who are accomplished journalists between the ages of 35 and 45 who have been in journalism long enough to have made significant contributions to the field.

“When you look at the list we have people who are of note and accomplishment,” Effron said. “They have been in journalism long enough to have accomplished significant things.”

This year’s group of Fellows was selected by a panel of five people. The group included Harvard professors, journalists and Bob Giles, Nieman Foundation Curator.

This year’s group was selected by a panel composed of a former fellow, two professors at Harvard, Bob Giles, Nieman Foundation Curator and the editor of the Oregonian, which won this year’s Pulitzer prize.

New fellows said they found the interview process particularly grueling.

“Journalists are used to asking questions,” Mary Claude Foster, a producer for Nightline said. “They asked me what I do when I’m not doing television...but I didn’t have anything lofty to say. I work all the time. I’m a workaholic.”

Fellows said they look forward to the opportunity to focus on academic interests that may inform their future writing.

“I can take a year at Harvard to study something that first interested me in 1984,” said Matthew Brelis, a business reporter for the Boston Globe. “It’s going to make me a better journalist to study something that is pretty complex.”

Brelis plans to study the effect of multinational corporations in international affairs of the course of his term.

Matthew Schofield, a staff writer at the Kansas City Star, said he wants to use the fellowship to jumpstart his career in foreign correspondence.

“I’ve been doing this professionally for 18 years and I’ve been a regional correspondent,” he said. “I’ve just always wanted to do something overseas and [the fellowship] will prepare me for that.”

Along with the experience of Harvard academics, the Nieman Foundation also hosts bi-weekly speakers or discussions about journalism ethics.

“We give the fellows the opportunity to be around two dozen colleagues who are among the best in the business,” Effron said.

“We might not normally talk because we are competing. But we can loosen our shirts and sit back and talk about the challenges [in the field],” Foster said.

The new Fellows said they were awed by their selection and look forward to the opportunity of spending a year at Harvard.

“I will look upon the birth of my child, my marriage and my Nieman fellowship as the watershed events of my life,” Brelis said.

Schofield said he is eager to begin his year as a Fellow.

“We don’t really get the chance to be students very often. I’ve been doing this for 18 years without a break,” Schofield said. “This is now a chance to step back and retool and make sure I like the way I’m doing things.”

—Staff Writer Nicole B. Usher can be reached at usher@fas.harvard.edu.