Since Southerly started in 2018, we’ve informed people inside and outside the region about environmental injustice and how Southerners—particularly rural, low-wealth, and BIPOC communities—are working to make their communities healthier, safer, and more empowered. We’ve done it through investigations, essays, documentaries, podcasts and more.
Each year, we’ve engaged people around these issues more: first partnering with news outlets to co-publish stories, host workshops, and do more targeted outreach to underserved places; then partnering directly with community organizations and civic institutions to create and distribute resources and stories.
And now, we’re committing to our vision even more deeply by equipping people with the tools they need to do journalism themselves, in the ways that are most useful for them and in the places they know best.
The Southerly Community Reporting Fellowship is a paid 12-week remote program for Southerners to learn community journalism principles and news reporting skills to help meet each of their communities’ information needs, as well as share resources and ideas across the region to address challenges together.
This first cohort of five people will focus on disaster preparation, response, and recovery. Of course, the needs and stories are unique to each place, but the systems people have to navigate are the same. With this program, fellows can learn from each other while tailoring projects to their homeplaces.
We hope to use this fellowship to provide access and opportunities in our beloved region, while developing and strengthening the most integral and oldest information-sharing system: storytelling. Through storytelling, communities are able to stay safe, provide aid, and pass down pertinent knowledge generationally. We’ll offer workshops on topics such as interviewing, writing, ethical journalism principles, and fact-checking; fellows will work on shorter assignments as well as a project in their communities.
Participatory journalism—through documenting meetings, fellowships, and more direct experience—is incredibly impactful. Darryl Holliday, co-founder of City Bureau, explains the importance of equipping this way: “[It’s] about agency. It’s about providing access and opportunities for public participation and production. Equipping is about teaching and interconnected learning. It’s about exchanging skills and resources. It’s a redistribution of power between institutions and individuals.”
We’ve learned so much from some of our colleagues in this space, including City Bureau, and are endlessly grateful to them for sharing their expertise, curriculums, and more. Thanks also to Canopy Atlanta, Lede New Orleans, Bloomfield Info Project, and Five Wards Media. We’re excited to share our experience with them and the public during this first fellowship and respond to more needs and changes for the ones that come after.
Above all, we hope to inspire folks to be creative in their information-sharing systems in their communities—and ensure they have the tools to do so effectively.
Interested to learn more? Read the job description and application instructions here.