The Alfred Friendly Press Fellowships (AFPF) is named for the Pulitzer Prize-winning former managing editor of The Washington Post. He created the program in 1983 to enable print journalists from countries where press freedom is restricted to come to the United States for six months of on-the-job-training in cooperating newsrooms. Fellows, approximately ten per year, work as reporters at American news organizations for the majority of their time, with seminars offered at the beginning, middle and end that complement the practical learning in the newsrooms. Friendly hoped these journalists would gain a broader view of the world and journalism from their American and Fellowship colleagues and would return home not only with new skills and knowledge, but a desire to advance a free, responsible press in their own countries. The first class of Fellows met in 1984.
In the conviction that a strong free press is essential to the healthy functioning of a democracy, Alfred Friendly conceived a fellowship program that would both impart American journalistic traditions and respond to worldwide interest in the dissemination of fair and accurate news. Of the many training programs available to journalists, the Alfred Friendly Press Fellowships is the only one to offer a non-academic, long-term, hands-on experience in an American newsroom. It was Alfred Friendly’s belief that working side by side with reporters and editors is the best way to absorb the practical realities of journalism in the U.S. and the instrumental role it plays in our society. In 26 years, AFPF has trained 272 journalists from 78 countries.
The program goals are:
• To provide the Fellow with experience in reporting, writing and editing that will enhance future professional performance;
• To enable the Fellow to gain a practical understanding of the function and significance of the free press in American society;
• To transfer knowledge gained on the program to colleagues at home;
• To foster continuing ties between free press institutions and journalists in the United States and their counterparts in other countries.
In recent years, AFPF has expanded its program. Among other things, AFPF:
- Provides opportunities for Fellows to learn new skills and teaches them how to share them at home by providing “Training the Trainer” sessions at the beginning and end of the program.
- Involves the Fellows’ home newsroom managers in identifying the needs of journalists in those countries and works with the American host organization to best meet those needs. Training Plans are created which guide the fellowship.
- Partnered with the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism to offer the introductory journalism course which prepares our Fellows to work as reporters in American newsrooms.
- Organizes a week long seminar at the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism at the middle of the program which teaches them the practical skills of shooting and editing photographs, video and audio and how best to blog.
- Offers a two day seminar on computer assisted reporting provided by the Investigative Reporters and Editors.
- Conducts a direct exchange between Nation Media Group (NMG) of East Africa and The Kansas City Star which places one NMG journalist in the Star’s newsroom for five months as a Friendly Fellow and then sends one Star journalist to East Africa for a month to conduct training alongside the NMG journalist who was at The Star.
- Has created 2-5 year partnerships with select media companies in China and South Korea that train their journalists thereby having a longer term impact on their newsrooms. We are working to expand these partnerships with additional media companies.
- Offers online training via videoconferencing with The Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida.
- Offers a four day debrief in Washington DC at the end of the program used to reflect and evaluate the training.
- Provides each Fellow a training allowance for journalism books, conferences or short-term professional visits.
Our goal in expanding the program, especially through multiyear partnerships with sending newsrooms, is to broaden the impact on journalism in these countries and newsrooms. We believe that by equipping our Fellows with the necessary skills and knowledge, they can help improve the quality and openness of the journalism in their home countries and lead to an independent, professional press—without which democracy does not exist.