Democratic Journalism Institute
The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.
–Ida B. Wells
The Democratic Journalism Institute (DJI) is a news entity that trains, incubates, employs, and deploys emerging and career journalists.
We have the flexibility of a nontraditional news outlet in offering freelancers the opportunity to expand their writing and audience to communities that are too often starved of information and news.
DJI provides a three-month intensive fellowship, followed by a 12-month immersive fellowship. The intensive program typically focuses on a specific topic (e.g., reproductive or economic justice) and asks participants to dig deep with research and interviews and produce a project at the fellowship conclusion. The immersive fellowship adopts a smaller group of participants who become a part of The Lighthouse | Black Girl Projects’ newsroom as it covers news beats and topics throughout the year.
The three-month experience pairs seasoned journalists with emerging journalists and creates a vital juncture for sharing writing techniques and introducing information-heavy news sources.
Traditional journalism’s prescribed practices remove the writer from the community he, she, or they are supposed to be covering. We find the practice exploitive. As with participatory action research, it’s unreasonable to remove a reporter from the community and expect them to report with accuracy and fidelity.
The Poynter Institute, a fact-checking journalism institute, predicts newspaper newsrooms to shrink about 45%. What’s more, in 2017, the American Society of News Editors discovered among 63 news-only websites and 598 newspapers, 16.55% of the organizations’ staff were from minority populations. News and citizen engagement is dissipating along with the field of journalism. We see the DJI as one antidote.