New diversity initiative offers paid New York internships to minority journalism students

City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism to lead diversity initiative with $1.2 million from Knight Foundation

NEW YORK—Sept. 25, 2014—To address the underrepresentation of minority journalists in newsrooms, the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate School of Journalism will launch a diversity initiative that includes an all-expenses-paid, two-month summer internship program for 20 participants and free tuition for five students. The three-year diversity initiative is supported by $1.2 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.  

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"CUNY focuses on diversifying ranks of journalism interns" by Sarah Bartlett on Knight Blog

The CUNY J-School will recruit participants from historically black colleges, Hispanic-serving institutions, CUNY, the State University of New York (SUNY) and the membership of associations representing underserved populations, such as the Asian American Journalists Association, the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the Native American Journalists Association.

The program will begin in Summer 2015. The 20 participants will intern for two months at journalism outlets in New York, while receiving supplemental instruction from the CUNY J-School’s faculty. Knight funding will cover the students’ travel expenses, as well as housing and living costs for the period.

At the end of each summer, five of the students will receive scholarships covering their entire tuition at the CUNY J-School, if they choose to apply and are accepted. They will have two years from the time of their offers to decide if they would like to pursue the graduate school opportunity.

 “This program gives deserving students from all over the country the opportunity to receive intensive journalism training in the nation’s top media market,” said Sarah Bartlett, dean of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. “By strengthening their skills, we enhance their future employment prospects, while helping to increase the diversity of the industry’s newsrooms and our own classrooms.”

“For newsrooms to be able to innovate, they need to include a variety of backgrounds and perspectives; diversity is key to innovation,” said Marie Gilot, Knight Foundation program officer for journalism. “The students who join this program will hone their skills and make key connections, so they are better prepared to meet the demands of some of the best newsrooms in country.”

Joanna Hernandez, who has been the director of career services at the CUNY J-School for the past two years, will lead the initiative. Hernandez is the National Association of Hispanic Journalist’s representative on the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (ACEJMC) and a former president of UNITY: Journalists for Diversity.

The CUNY Graduate School of Journalism prepares students from a broad range of economic, racial and ethnic backgrounds to produce high-quality journalism at a time of rapid change. It offers a Master of Arts in journalism and an M.A. in entrepreneurial journalism, and is seeking approval for an M.A. in social journalism, which it expects to launch in 2015.

Support for City University of New York is one part of Knight's efforts to encourage newsroom diversity and advance excellence in journalism. The Knight diversity initiative includes previous work with historically black colleges and universities, including journalism programs at Morgan State and Hampton University; the International Center for Journalists “Back to the Newsroom” initiative; sponsorships of annual conferences (Asian American Journalists Association, National Association of Black Journalists, National Association of Hispanic Journalists); and more.

For more information on the CUNY J-School’s new diversity initiative, contact Dean Sarah Bartlett at or Joanna Hernandez at


Joanna Hernandez, Director of Diversity Initiatives at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism,

Sarah Bartlett, Dean, City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism,

Anusha Alikhan, Director of Communications, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, 305-908-2677,

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit