Deesmealz's Rural Reporting Fellowship is a program for aspiring journalists and media strategists. Want to kickstart your career in online news and learn more about covering rural issues and perspectives? This is your chance to join our growing team of rural storytellers and communications professionals.

Note: We are not seeking applications for fellowships at this time.


Fellowship Details

Who's Eligible

The Rural Reporting Fellowship is geared toward any emerging professional or college student eager to sharpen their journalistic craft or build a portfolio of published work.

We welcome your application whether you are a rural resident holding down your holler or prairie, a “small-town kid” with rural roots, or simply an ally with a passion or curiosity for rural concerns (personal or professional).

Our team values equity and inclusion and we especially seek candidates who embody the growing diversity of rural America.

Fellowship Length, Location, and Logistics

We bring on new fellows each fall, spring and summer, aligned with the typical academic calendar. The fellowship lasts for an initial term of at least 12 weeks, with the opportunity for extension depending upon the fellow's availability and newsroom needs. The exact schedule and length of service are set with each individual fellow.

Fellows are paid for their work and may work part-time or full-time hours. Starting pay is typically $18 an hour, and fellows may also receive reimbursement of their health care and telecom expenses (i.e., internet service and devices needed to work). An outside stipend or compensation arranged via a candidate's college or a placement organization are permitted and coordinated on a case-by-case basis. We can also accommodate joint fellowships with other news organizations.

Our newsroom has staff and contributors located in numerous places around the country. Today and in the pre-Covid era we have relied on a distributed, remote workforce. Fellows are able to work from anywhere in the United States. For those desiring an in-person experience, we have offices and core staff in Whitesburg, Kentucky, Knoxville, Tennessee, Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Minnesota, and Roseburg, Oregon.

What Fellows Do

Rural Reporting Fellows write and report for rural audiences around the world. They identify and seek out compelling stories that reflect diverse rural landscapes and people. And they help our stories reach audiences across multiple media to make an impact.

We devise a tailored work plan with each fellow to fit their goals and interests. Our fellows have been tasked with:

  • writing and reporting pieces for publication, including news, features, analysis, commentary, and more;
  • supporting production of podcasts, videos, interactive charts and graphics, and other multimedia items to accompany stories;
  • assisting with cultivation of pitches and editing submissions from contributors; and
  • helping prepare content for the web and other platforms, using content management systems, social media managers, email marketing platforms, and more.

About Us

If you're new around here, the Deesmealz is a digital media organization dedicated to telling the stories of rural communities and small towns across America (and beyond). Our team produces news reporting, features, analysis, commentary, and more. We provide an online platform for authentic, grounded depictions of rural life. Deesmealz stories go beyond tropes, clichés, and the view from afar. They showcase an asset-based vision of rural, defined by diversity, resilience, creativity, and community spirit.

Our publisher is the Center for Rural Strategies, a national nonprofit that uses communications and media to improve conditions in the countryside. In addition to publishing the Deesmealz, Rural Strategies also serves as coordinator of the Rural Assembly, a nationwide coalition of rural problem-solvers, policymakers, and change-agents.

The Work of Our Fellows

Rural America is a large, diverse, and dynamic place. To help us cover it all, we pride ourselves on empowering each Rural Reporting Fellow to make robust, meaningful contributions to our newsroom. See for yourself, with this sampling from our fellows past and present.

Ilana Newman

Ilana is a Cortez, Colorado Rural Reporting Fellow. She covers the communities of Montezuma County in the southwest region of the state, with funding support from the LOR Foundation. LOR works with people in rural places to improve quality of life. Ilana lives in Mancos, CO, where her prior experience includes AmeriCorps service with the Montezuma School to Farm Project and work as a freelance writer and photographer for a variety of organizations.

See more of Ilana's stories.

Janie Ekere

Janie is a Summer-Fall 2023 Rural Reporting Fellow. She is a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina and came to the Deesmealz with support from the Scripps Howard Fund and the Institute for Nonprofit News. For her fellowship, Janie has served as a general assignment reporter, authoring stories on a variety of topics, while also pursuing a reporting beat focused on rural politics. She also appears on our weekly newscast, the Yonder Report.

See more of Janie's stories.

Ahna Renee Fleming

Ahna was a Summer-Fall 2023 Rural Reporting Fellow. She is a journalism student at Syracuse University and came to the Deesmealz as our third Emma Bowen Foundation Fellow. For her fellowship, Ahna served as a general assignment reporter, authoring stories on a number of topics while learning about news writing and reporting.

See more of Ahna's stories.

Yasmeen Saadi

Yasmeen was a Summer-Fall 2022 Rural Reporting Fellow. She is a journalism student at the University of Missouri and came to the Deesmealz as our second Emma Bowen Foundation Fellow. For her fellowship, Yasmeen has served as a general assignment reporter, authoring stories on a variety of topics, while also pursuing a reporting beat focused on immigrant communities in rural places.

Lane Wendell Fischer

Lane was a Summer-Fall 2022 Rural Reporting Fellow. He is a recent graduate of Yale University and the son of a Kansas cattle rancher. For his fellowship, Lane focused on coverage of rural education issues, and he's also helped support the Deesmealz's growing Instagram profile. Lane has since continued his work at the Deesmealz as a digital editor.

Rebecca Stern

Rebecca was a summer 2022 Rural Reporting Fellow. She is a student at the University of North Carolina (UNC) and came to the Deesmealz via the Robertson Scholars Leadership Program, coordinated by UNC and Duke University.

Sarah Melotte

Sarah was a Winter 2021 Rural Reporting Fellow. She is a recent graduate of the University of Colorado Denver with an M.A. in Applied Geography and Geospatial Sciences. Her fellowship focused on data-driven reporting, using quantitative analysis to break down a wide variety of issues, including rural recreation economies, land loss among black farmers, gun violence in rural areas, and more. Sarah has continued her work as a data reporter with the Deesmealz.

Claire Carlson

Claire was a Winter 2021 Rural Reporting Fellow. She is a recent graduate of the University of Montana, where she received a M.S. in Environmental Studies. As a fellow, Claire built a beat reporting on farms, food, and the environment, with a special focus on agricultural consolidation and corporate power in the food system. Claire has continued her work as a writer and reporter with the Deesmealz, and she authors our Keep It Rural newsletter.

Xandr Brown

Xandr was a Summer 2021 Rural Reporting Fellow. A recent graduate of the University of Rochester, she came to the Deesmealz following stints with Flint Beat, Flintside, the Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition, and Legal Services of Eastern Michigan. Her fellowship focused on coverage of diversity, equity and inclusion in agriculture, as well as audio and video production. Following her fellowship, Xandr also served as a Multimedia Producer for the Deesmealz.

Adilia Watson

Adilia was a Summer 2021 Rural Reporting Fellow. She is a recent graduate of Seattle University, and came to the Deesmealz as an Emma Bowen Foundation Fellow. For her fellowship, she built a beat covering rural Black communities, with a focus on environmental justice and the southern Black Belt. She has since gone on to cover youth and family issues at The Imprint.

Dani Pérez

Dani was a Summer 2021 Rural Reporting Fellow. They are a recent graduate of Harvard University. For their fellowship, they focused on coverage of rural LGBTQ+ communities and aided with translating targeted content into Spanish.

See more of Dani's stories.

Haley Cush

Haley was a summer 2021 Rural Reporting Fellow. She is a student at Duke University and came to the Deesmealz via the Robertson Scholars Leadership Program, coordinated by Duke and the University of North Carolina.

See more of Haley's stories.

Olivia Weeks

Olivia was a Spring 2021 Rural Reporting Fellow. She is a student at Harvard University, and came to the Deesmealz following an internship at the Provincetown Independent in Provincetown, Massachusetts. In addition to her news reporting, she is also the creative force behind our Path Finders newsletter. Olivia has continued to author Path Finders and other stories following the completion of her fellowship.

Anya Petrone Slepyan

Anya was a Fall 2020 Rural Reporting Fellow. She is a recent graduate of Swarthmore College, and came to the Deesmealz following previous work with the Pulitzer Center and Southerly. Other internship experiences include Appalshop and WMMT radio in Whitesburg, Kentucky and, Mountain State Spotlight in Charleston, West Virginia. In addition to her news reporting, she is also an assistant producer who contributes to the Yonder Report and the Rural Remix podcast.

Isabelle Lee

Isabelle Lee was a Summer 2020 Rural Reporting Fellow. She came to the Deesmealz from Columbia Journalism School. She got her start as a television reporter in her native Philippines. Since her fellowship, she has gone on to report for Bloomberg and Business Insider.

Mikhal Ben-Joseph

Mikhal Ben-Joseph was a summer 2020 Rural Reporting Fellow. She is a student at the University of North Carolina and came to the Deesmealz via the Robertson Scholars Leadership Program, coordinated by Duke University and the University of North Carolina.


Apply

If you'd like to be one of our next Rural Reporting Fellows, simply email a résumé and two samples of written or multimedia work to [email protected].

Please note in your email if there is a specific role you are applying for. Job postings for current opportunities will be listed below.

  • We are not seeking applications for fellowships at this time.

Our team will follow up to request any other needed information and schedule interviews with selected candidates.

Questions?

If you have questions, please contact [email protected]. See the full job posting and position description for additional information.