The Advancing Democracy Fellowship supports reporters and editors in strengthening our democracy through innovative news coverage that highlights promising responses to our democracy’s challenges, and builds civic engagement, equity and healthy discourse. As the last presidential election made clear, the need couldn’t be more urgent or important.

Those who participate in the fellowship — the only one of its kind in the nation — will gain expertise in how to report with and for, not just about, their communities; prove out practices that heighten civic knowledge and participation; and build trust with audiences, especially communities that have long been marginalized and stigmatized.

The idea is to help newsrooms embrace a deep, ongoing examination of issues that will help communities see — and work toward — possibilities for building a better world. And while the fellowship will last nine months, we’re designing it to help journalists build the knowledge and skills they need to sustain new habits and practices into the foreseeable future.


The fellows will receive training and support in time-tested and evidence-based reporting approaches, participate in “sprints” to apply these practices to their political and elections coverage, and catalyze change in their newsrooms. Teams of at least one editor and reporter will be required to participate in the workshops. The final dates and schedules for each workshop will be shared with finalists for the fellowship.

Topics the workshops will cover include:

  • Aligning Coverage With Your Mission
  • How to Report for Good Conflict
  • Solutions Journalism
  • Engaged Elections & The Citizens Agenda
  • Trusting News Practices
  • Measuring the Impact of Your Advancing Democracy Work

Advancing Democracy is a fellowship designed to help newsrooms think big, plan long-term, and reinvent politics, governance and elections coverage with and for their communities.

In this low-trust, high-stakes era of American democracy, some journalists are starting to change how they cover those topics. Instead of writing about campaigns like horse races, they are moving toward more effective and proven reporting approaches that inspire greater engagement in the news, build trust within communities, focus on solutions, and address voters’ urgent need for fact-based, relevant information.

This year we are inviting 20 newsrooms to join this adventure. News organizations in any state can apply, with preference given to news outlets covering The Great Lakes States of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin as well as Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas. 

The Solutions Journalism Network (SJN), Hearken and Trusting News are collaboratively supporting this fellowship to tie together effective trainings that sit at the intersection of journalism and civic empowerment, with equity as a core value and practice. We envision a future in which newsrooms replace stories about conflicting and competing polls and candidates — which we know contribute to distrust — with more deep, ongoing examinations of important social issues, including the health of our democracy itself.

The fellowship will apply insights gained from other initiatives led by Hearken, the Solutions Journalism Network and Trusting News, all of which have helped newsrooms approach civic, political and elections-related reporting in new ways.  They include Election SOS (Hearken), Citizens’ Solutions (Heaken and SJN), Renewing Democracy (SJN), Advancing Democracy (SJN), Complicating the Narratives (SJN and Good Conflict), and the Road to Pluralism (Trusting News), all of which have helped newsrooms approach civic, political and elections-related reporting in new ways.

The program will help newsrooms transform their coverage:

FROM candidate/horse-race focused coverage TO constituent-focused coverage;

FROM journalists deciding what information the public gets TO journalists listening to the public to cover the information they’re missing;

FROM problem-focused reporting TO solutions-focused reporting;

FROM assuming the public knows how journalism is made TO explaining how journalism is made;

FROM conflict-oriented reporting that contributes to polarization TO “good conflict”-oriented reporting that builds understanding;

FROM undercovering/miscovering communities TO inclusive, equitable coverage of communities;

FROM coverage of democracy that revolves around one day (Election Day) TO year-round coverage of democracy (with elections being one important event).

2023 Ask Me Anything recording

For more information, watch our “Ask Me Anything” session from January 31, 2023. We feature insights from participants in the first cohort.