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Journalism fellowships will increase media spotlight on aging issues

The Journalists in Aging Fellows Program, run jointly by The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) and New America Media (NAM) since its launch in 2010, is expanding thanks to new funding support from AARP.

For the past four years, this co-venture responsible for more than 200 news stories by 65 alumni to date has largely centered around GSA's Annual Scientific Meeting and in-depth stories proposed by each fellow. In 2014, the addition of a series of regional briefings and telebriefings will keep participating reporters engaged year-round.

The new cohort will consist of 13 fellows. One of them will be supported by the John A. Hartford Foundation, now in its third year of involvement with the program.

"We are very excited to have AARP as our new partner and look forward to the possibilities this brings for growing the program," said GSA Deputy Executive Director Linda Harootyan, MSW. "These fellowships provide an important mechanism for informing journalists about new developments in the field of aging."

The program is co-directed by Harootyan and Paul Kleyman, the senior editor of NAM's ethnic elders newsbeat and national coordinator of the Journalists Network on Generations.

As in previous years, roughly half of the fellows will be selected from general audience media and half from ethnic media outlets that serve communities within the U.S.

"AARP is excited to join the Journalists in Aging Fellows Program as a sponsor and partner," said Jeffrey Davis, AARP's senior vice president of media relations and public outreach. "We see real value in educating journalists on the issues and policies affecting our aging society and look forward to providing unique opportunities for fellows to learn and engage."

AARP's involvement will facilitate the program's expansion to include regional briefings and telebriefings.

For the former, potential partners will be identified by AARP state offices, for example to host events in different locations across the U.S. NAM will help ensure the representation of ethnic media at such briefings and that coverage includes content relevant to ethnic audiences.

The program's phone-in telebriefings will provide ongoing opportunities for journalists to keep up on the latest developments in aging, often based on major new reports and research findings. Each event will address how the particular topic impacts minority individuals and communities.

GSA, NAM, and AARP will work together to determine the topics and speakers for each of these events.

The centerpiece of the program will be the fellows' participation in GSA's Annual Scientific Meeting, which in 2014 will take place from November 5 to 9 in Washington, DC. The fellowship requires participating reporters to deliver a story from the conference and a major piece or series in the following months.

On arriving in Washington, the fellows will participate in a seminar the day before the GSA conference begins. The reporters' daylong session will showcase research highlights from the meeting and host discussions with veteran journalists on how to position aging stories in the current media environment.

"These fellowships enable ethnic-media journalists to inform the communities that trust them about the complex and often sensitive issues of aging in their own language or cultural terms," said NAM Executive Director Sandy Close. "Research by experts at the GSA meeting helps reporters reveal both ethnic disparities and positive innovations in subjects from income security to end-of-life care."

All applications for the fellowship program will be reviewed by a selection committee of journalists and experts in aging.

The criteria will include clarity and originality of proposed in-depth story projects; quality of samples of published or produced work; and high-impact potential of proposals geographically and across different ethnic or racial populations.

Ten previous fellows also will receive funds to come to the meeting in Washington to cover the newest developments in the field of aging.

"The fellowship continues to offer a terrific platform for stretching my network of journalists and aging sources," said Kerry Hannon, a Forbes magazine contributing editor and PBS Next Avenue columnist who was selected as a fellow in 2011. "This supportive program has provided an enriched playing field for me to report, learn, and make an impact through my writing."


Contact: Todd Kluss
The Gerontological Society of America

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