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Insights from the Google News Initiative Student Fellowship 2022


Insights from the Google News Initiative Student Fellowship 2022

Picture of Fleur Leijte
Fleur Leijte — Project manager
December 07, 2022

The programme where fresh ideas and innovative practices meet

In 2022, the European Journalism Centre hosted a new edition of the Google News Initiative Student Fellowship. The programme allows a cohort of young media professionals to spend their summers working at one of the 30 participating newsrooms across 14 European countries on a fully paid salary.

In this post, we will take a closer look at the day-to-day experiences of a few Student Fellows and editors, which highlights how the Student Fellowship has become a pipeline for talent and innovation across the European news industry.

Learning on the job

Bruno Sotic spent his summer working at the data desk at de Volkskrant in Amsterdam. His 8-week Fellowship ended in September, but he still works for the newsroom on a freelance basis.

At de Volkskrant, Bruno learned how computer and data sciences can help elevate journalism. ‘’A lot of work across the newsroom needs to be supported with data. What I like about working for the data desk is how closely I get to work together with other departments. No two days are the same and I get to work with a variety of people from all over the newsroom.’’

Bruno and Xander at work at de Volkskrant newsroom

Working for one of the Netherlands’ biggest newsrooms requires the ability to hit the ground running. ‘’When I first arrived I immediately got to work. My first task was to contribute to a project about gas prices. Although this was completely new to me, I just dived in and learned as I went. I have a great team of colleagues who are always available for a quick brainstorming session. Besides that, I am constantly Googling and watching YouTube tutorials on how to approach things.’’

Xander van Uffelen is data editor at de Volkskrant and was Bruno’s mentor during the Fellowship. De Volkskrant has hosted 4 Student Fellows since 2019 and, according to Xander, it has always been a positive experience. ‘’It is refreshing to have Student Fellows here. Bruno brings a new perspective and tools to the newsroom. It stimulates us to try new things.’’

Collaboration is key

During the Fellowship, Federico Acosta Rainis learned that modern journalism requires collaboration. His time at the Guardian’s Visual team allowed him to work together closely with professionals with a wide variety of backgrounds and skill sets. ‘’I am from Argentina and worked as a journalist there. You could say that I was a traditional journalist in the sense that I worked on articles by myself. At the Guardian, this is completely different. Collaboration is necessary because everybody has different skill sets that can be consulted. There are daily meetings so there is a lot of involvement and engagement. When I worked on my piece on the election results in Brazil, for example, I did not only work together with my team but also with graphic designers who helped me visualise my data in line with the Guardian style.’’

Federico at the Guardian

‘’My Fellowship at The Guardian was amazing! It was a unique opportunity to work in a world-class team, meet great people and learn something new every day. Overall a huge learning experience, which will undoubtedly open up new career possibilities for me.’’ Federico Acosta Rainis

Measuring impact

Through survey-based research and conversations with participants, we have gathered insights into the successes, challenges, and impact of the programme. Data shows that the Student Fellowship has become a pipeline for talent and innovation in newsrooms across Europe.

In 2021, 35% of the Student Fellows landed a job at their host newsrooms or through its network.

28% of the newsrooms did not just work with their Student Fellow but also hired other applicants from the selection list.

With over 2,000 applications received in 2022, the number of applications shows how many students and recent graduates are interested in becoming a Student Fellow. Even though each newsroom can only select one Fellow, editors often end up recruiting from the pool of candidates.

’Besides our Fellow, we hired two other journalists who applied to the Fellowship. One has been working with us for six months as a fundraiser. Another applicant is now working with us on a European-wide media literacy and migration project with a partner in Finland.’’ — Nina Gheddar Maillard, Guiti News

84% of the participating newsrooms and 79% of the Student Fellows rated the Fellowship as ‘excellent’.

‘’I learned from some of the best-skilled journalists in Italy who taught me how to improve both my writing, editing, and fact-checking expertise. The Google News Initiative fellowship has been a groundbreaking experience that will be able to help enhance my journalistic career even more in the (near) future.’’ Michele Calamaio, Student Fellow at La Repubblica

Michele at La Repubblica

Boost in talent and confidence

Across the participating newsrooms, Student Fellows work on a wide variety of tasks such as editorial, breaking news, and fact-checking.

Lola Boom, Student Fellow at Vice Belgium, wrote two articles related to the housing crisis in Belgium. One focused on the testimony of a student living in a squat, the other on the perspective of a researcher on housing issues.

‘’At Vice, I got to write articles on topics of personal interest. Working independently on these projects allowed me to gain confidence in myself as a journalist. It was a fantastic experience, learning and applying new skills to practise.’’ — Lola Boom

Together with three other Student Fellows, Lola was also selected to join the News Impact Summit in Prague that took place in October. The Fellows got the opportunity to meet and build connections with each other, the media experts speaking at the event, and over 200 journalists from across Europe who attended the Summit.

Student Fellows Robin, Lola, Cristina, and Klara at the News Impact Summit


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