NMID academic fellowship provides pathway to journalism

Montage of images from stories reported by NMID fellows.

As the 2017/2018 academic year comes to a close, we couldn’t be prouder of this year’s fellows —  Melorie Begay and Xchelzin Peña.

New Mexico In Depth’s fellowship program provides an opportunity for New Mexico university students or post-graduates of color to explore their reporting interests in a professional setting. We think it’s important to create a pipeline of journalists who bring their community’s perspective and insight to journalism, and we hope you — our readers — do too.

Fellows receive the same rigorous editing as NM In Depth journalists, as well as membership in a professional association. They get network opportunities, too, which helps if anyone remembers what it was like to angle for your first job out of college.

Through the program, our fellows produce a body of published work and gain valuable experience to help them transition into the world of journalism.

Working with Melorie and Xchelzin, we recognized their talent early on. Others came to appreciate it, too, with two journalistic organizations recently honoring their work.

Peña won first place from the New Mexico Press Women’s Association for news in a print-based newspaper for  “Hopes and Fears: One DACA Recipient’s Story.” This story was one of several Peña, a first-generation Mexican American, produced that focused on how immigrant communities are responding to President Trump’s decision to end the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Begay won second place for news writing in the press women’s collegiate/education writing category, and was a finalist in the Society of Professional Journalists’ Mark of Excellence contest for a story that explored divisions caused by fracking in northwest New Mexico: Fracking boom leads to tension in Navajo communities.

See the full range of their work on our website.

We learned as much from Melorie and Xchelzin as we hope they learned from us. To close out the year, we’ll be talking with them using Facebook Live to hear their thoughts about journalism and what they hope to achieve in the coming years. We hope you’ll tune in on our Facebook Page to say hello.

Mark your calendars: 
  • Conversation with Xchelzin Peña: 10 a.m. Tuesday, May 15
  • Conversation with Melorie Begay: 11 a.m. Wednesday, May 23.

New Mexico students have great potential. In a state that sees young people move away because of a lack of jobs, helping to create a pathway into journalism is some of the most gratifying work we do.

Without mentoring and making space for young journalists, especially those from communities of color that are so under-represented in our field, we run the risk as a profession of not having the insights, knowledge and relationships necessary for telling richer stories that reflect the realities of where we live, especially in communities traditionally underserved by media.

We are excited about the young people we’ll be working with next year (we’ll tell you more about them later in the summer). Through the month of May, we’re raising funds to keep the New Mexico In Depth fellowship going.Will you help us sustain the fellowship in the coming year? Just $25 makes a huge difference. 

Can we count on you? Donate here.