The Real News Network and Just Media are partnering to launch a new fellowship program that empowers Baltimore writers that are passionate about reporting on criminal justice issues from their communities’ lived experiences. 

Baltimore, Maryland — June 28, 2022. The Baltimore Pipeline of Working and Emerging Reporters (P.O.W.E.R.) Fellowship, catalyzed by The Real News Network and Just Media, is a pilot program aimed at supporting emerging talent from communities most affected by mass incarceration and over-policing in Baltimore. The six-month fellowship provides up-and-coming journalists with media training and sustained mentorship to build critical investigative reporting skills that amplify stories grounded in their communities, expose broken systems, and challenge existing narratives about race and mass incarceration.

Baltimore spends more per capita on policing than every large city in the country. Despite ballooning police budgets, public safety has not improved. Worse still, the journalists reporting on these issues are often community outsiders that don’t reflect the diversity, values, or perspectives of Baltimoreans. Despite community advocates sounding the alarm about issues related to police violence and mass incarceration, and demanding decarceration, just reentry, harm reduction, and abolition, persistent structural barriers in media have prevented young writers, especially writers of color, from accessing the platforms and opportunities that allow them to tell stories from the frontlines of these fights and offer alternative solutions to unjust systems. 

Together, The Real News and Just Media Project will train and mentor the cohort. The Real News has deep experience providing critical reporting on policing and mass incarceration in Baltimore, as well as a digital broadcast studio that amplifies this reporting. Just Media has supported more than 40 writing fellows, over 90 percent Black and brown folks ages 18-24, from 27 cities across the country. 

Through this partnership, The Real News and Just Media will also give these aspiring journalists a chance to rethink journalistic objectivity without the assumption that their identities need to be buried to adequately cover the policing and prison landscape in this country. 

With planning currently underway, The Real News and Just Media are reaching out to both community and funding partners for their guidance and support in shaping this pilot program. Targeted recruitment of emerging journalists (18-24 years old) will begin later this summer and fellows will begin their work in Fall 2022.

According to The Real News Executive Director John Duda, “The kind of journalists covering policing and mass incarceration that Baltimore needs are exactly the kind of journalists the status quo is designed to exclude, because they come from the communities this carceral system harms the most. With P.O.W.E.R., we are flipping this script.”

Just Media’s past fellowship programs have had a meaningful impact on a growing network of young movement journalists. “I enjoyed being able to talk about something that is barely addressed,” a former Just Media fellow said. “I also loved interviewing people who are actually making a change within my community.”

“Young journalists of color need a space that encourages them to grow, learn, and expose the truth — and that’s exactly what we’re trying to build here,” said Clarissa Brooks, program director at Just Media. 

The program is actively seeking funds and supporters. A $250 donation hosts a fellow for one week of the program. A $1,000 donation hosts a fellow for one month. And a $5,000 donation secures a fellow’s complete six-month participation in the program. 

Learn more about Baltimore P.O.W.E.R. here.


About Just Media

Just Media is a national hub telling a new story about justice—and supporting the next generation of storytellers. Our work revolves around two core strategies: Community-centered, impact-driven media: With our core fellowship program, we support young, emerging journalists to cover grassroots and electoral politics on these issues at local and national outlets. Grassroots communications: Just Media communications support and training to youth and community-based justice groups following a national needs assessment. We convene community-based dialogues to engage local organizers and decision-makers in our work. 

About The Real News Network

The Real News Network (TRNN) is a non-profit media organization that makes media connecting you to the movements, people, and perspectives that are advancing the cause of a more just, equal, and livable planet. TRNN highlights the voices and ideas not just of academics and pundits, but of the people on the frontlines of fights against injustice.

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