Last year in partnership with Alice Wong and Vilissa Thompson, I started Disabled Writers — a project with the goal of increasing newsroom diversity by maintaining a database of disabled writers and sources for editors and journalists to use.
Maintaining a database is a tremendous amount of work, but this year, we're upping our goals with a newsroom fellowship project: Writers will be working with media organizations to produce three stories, developing useful journalistic skills, clips, and connections along the way. We already have a commitment from the Daily Dot — and a few more publications are lined up and considering with tentative interest.
Here's how it's going to work: We'll have applications open for each publication for one month, and they are open to all disabled writers who wish to apply — regardless of whether they're in our database or not. (No preference will be given to members of the database.) Once we've received all the applications, Alice, Vilissa, and I will go through them to develop a shortlist to forward to the publication so they can select a fellow. We'll connect the two, and the publication will take it from there.
After each fellowship, we'll have an exit interview with both parties to learn more about what worked and what didn't and how we can improve the program; my hope is that publications will have a positive experience and want to take on another fellow!
What our grantee is saying: "Disabled Writers was founded in response to concerns that disabled journalists are underrepresented in media overall, and particularly in coverage of disability issues. In the words of Talila Lewis, we need to #PassthePublication, but that's hard to do when journalists can't access the experience they need to advance in the industry. Our fellowships are working to create opportunity, one aspiring journalist at a time, and financial support allows us to expand the number of fellowship partners we work with. I'm thrilled that Awesome Disability is supporting us this month!"
Funded by Disability (March 2018)