Professional organizations are a great way to make connections in the industry, and take advantage of scholarships to conferences, events and job boards. Most journalism professional organizations host yearly conferences and offer student fellowships to attend. These are not only learning opportunities, but also networking opportunities. Student memberships cost as little as $20 a year and allow you to search the organization’s database for other members in the field.
National Association for Black Journalists
The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) is an organization of journalists, students and media-related professionals that provides quality programs and services to and advocates on behalf of black journalists worldwide. Founded by 44 men and women on Dec. 12, 1975, in Washington, D.C., NABJ is the largest organization of journalists of color in the nation.
NABJ holds an annual convention and career fair each summer with dozens of plenary sessions and workshops for professional development. The career fair draws hundreds of recruiters and is among the best means of finding a job in the industry. Each year, NABJ awards nearly $100,000 in scholarships and internships to college and high school students nationwide, as well as fellowships for seasoned professionals.
Student memberships cost $40.
National Association for Hispanic Journalists
The National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) is dedicated to the recognition and professional advancement of Hispanics in the news industry. Established in April 1984, NAHJ created a national voice and unified vision for all Hispanic journalists. NAHJ is governed by an 18-member board of directors that consists of executive officers and regional directors who represent geographic areas of the United States and the Caribbean. The national office is located in Washington, D.C. NAHJ has approximately 2,000 members, including working journalists, journalism students, other media-related professionals and journalism educators.
Since 1988, NAHJ has awarded nearly $1.6 million in scholarships to more than 700 students. NAHJ scholarship opportunities are open to college-bound high school seniors, college undergraduates and graduate students pursuing careers in English or Spanish-language print, broadcast, digital or photojournalism. Students attending four-year colleges and community colleges in the Unites States and Puerto Rico with a GPA of 2.5 or better are eligible for the scholarships, which range from $2,000 – $5,000.
Student memberships cost $25.
South Asian Journalists Association
SAJA, the South Asian Journalists Association, is one of the most dynamic journalism organizations in the U.S. and Canada. Founded in March 1994 with 18 members, today it connects and serves more than 1,000 journalists at news outlets, big and small. SAJA has members spread across North America and active chapters in New York, Washington, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Toronto. It is headquartered at Columbia Graduate School of Journalism in New York City.
SAJA serves as a networking and resource forum for journalists of South Asian origin as well as for journalists and others interested in South Asia and the South Asian diaspora. Its mission includes acting as a resource to promote accurate coverage of South Asia and the diaspora. Over the years, SAJA has given out more than $200,000 in scholarships and fellowships.
Student memberships cost $20.
The Association of LGBTQ Journalists
Founded in August 1990 by the late Leroy (Roy) F. Aarons, NLGJA is an organization of journalists, media professionals, educators and students working from within the news industry to foster fair and accurate coverage of LGBTQ issues. NLGJA opposes all forms of workplace bias and provides professional development to its members. NLGJA’s National Board of Directors, chapter leadership, and members come from rural to major metropolitan print, broadcast, and online newsrooms, as well as community-based LGBTQ media, academic institutions, and the public relations and communications profession. Our strength and respect in the industry comes from the diversity of our membership.
The NLGJA Mentorship Program pairs members making the next step in their career with some of our seasoned, veteran members who have done it all before. The program aims to create lasting relationships between members within their field. These mutually beneficial partnerships provide important resources to help the next generation of leaders in journalism to succeed. The typical mentor/mentee relationship could include advice on career or school work, social media, email or cloud assistance with career or school work, or professional networking advice to identify who you should know and meet them.
Each year, NLGJA chooses 12 students from across the country to participate in its training project, which provides real-world experience to undergraduate and graduate students who are considering a career in journalism. To apply, students fill out an application, attaching the requested items. NLGJA will pay for the selected students’ convention attendance, airfare, food and hotel at the convention site.
Students participating in the project will produce portfolio-quality journalism, network with media professionals and receive feedback on their resumes and career plans. They will work with mentors from organizations including NPR, the Associated Press and The New York Times to report, edit, photograph, design and produce the news of NLGJA’s National Convention and the host city, while helping to ensure fair and accurate coverage of LGBTQ issues at the event. Examples of projects by last year’s students can been seen at news.nlgjaconnect.org.
Student membership costs $25.
Journalism and Women Symposium
Journalism and Women Symposium (JAWS) brings together working journalists and journalism educators and researchers from across the country to share resources, support, training and information about issues that affect women in our field. We meet in person and online in an atmosphere of mutual support and allow each other a chance to exercise the tongue instead of biting it. We characterize our mission this way: “JAWS supports the professional empowerment and personal growth of women in journalism and works toward a more accurate portrayal of the whole society.” Started in 1985, JAWS has now grown to 750 members who work in radio, TV, newspapers, magazines, online and in academia.
Mentoring is a cornerstone of the Journalism and Women Symposium, bringing together working journalists and journalism educators and researchers from across the country to share resources, support, training and information about issues that affect women in our field. We meet in person and online in an atmosphere of mutual support, sharing ideas, connections, job leads and insights into our work.
JAWS does an exceptionally good job of informally mentoring women in journalism through our members, who communicate in person, via our active listserv, through our member database, and with programming at our annual conference and at other regional gatherings during the year. We also have a more formal mentoring program for members, in which we match mentors and mentees to work together throughout the year. We match women based on the answers they provide in survey forms regarding professional expertise, location, career level and special requests.
Our mentoring program provides support for:
• writing and polishing a résumé and career plan with an eye toward long-term goals and career building
• preparing for a job interview and practicing those presentation skills
• evaluating college and graduate school programs based on objectives
• applying for college and graduate school programs
• finding and applying for scholarships and fellowships
• finding sources and improving stories through writing coaching
• getting the experience and building the track record to earn promotions
• staying in the news business by building a support network
If you are a JAWS member and would like to participate either as a mentor or mentee, you can find survey forms by going to your profile on our members-only site.
Student membership costs $35
Society for Professional Journalists
The Society of Professional Journalists is the nation’s most broad-based journalism organization, dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior. Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry through the daily work of its nearly 7,500 members; works to inspire and educate current and future journalists through professional development; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press through its advocacy efforts.
The society offers two freedom of information internships in DC and Indianapolis, as well as dozens of online tips, tutorials and webinars for members.
Student membership costs $37.50
Investigative Reporters & Editors and NICAR
Investigative Reporters & Editors, or IRE, is a grassroots nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of investigative reporting. IRE was formed in 1975 to create a forum in which journalists throughout the world could help each other by sharing story ideas, newsgathering techniques and news sources. Members have access to hundreds of tip sheets, databases, digital tools such as Tableau, and contacts in the industry. The organization also hosts several conferences and boot camps each year, for which there is often scholarship funds available; enterprising students can also try to negotiate a special rate.
A student membership is $25 a year.
The organization also sponsors the Jennifer Leonard Scholarship to its computer assisted reporting bootcamps for women of modest means who are journalism students or have less than three years of work experience. The funds enable the scholars to attend IRE conferences or NICAR training seminars. IRE staff select the recipients. IRE member David Cay Johnston of The New York Times created the scholarships to honor his wife, the president of the Rochester Area Community Foundation and a national leader in promoting ethical standards for endowments.
NICAR is a program of IRE, founded in 1989 and supported by the Missouri School of Journalism. NICAR shares IRE’s mission to foster excellence in journalism, particularly with regard to data journalism. NICAR stands for the “National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting.” The term “computer-assisted reporting” was used widely in the last two decades to describe what many now call “data journalism.”
For the last 25 years NICAR has:
made valuable government datasets available to journalists
done custom analysis work for newsrooms large and small
held annual conferences that helped create and continue to support the active NICAR community
trained journalists around the country and overseas in the art of acquiring, cleaning and analyzing data
provided resources for using data effectively and responsibly
To find out more about NICAR and its services, feel free to contact Charles Minshew, director of data services, directly at (573) 882-1982 or firstname.lastname@example.org.