Now Fully Online, Lehman's New Wall Street Journal Fellowship Program Still a Go Despite Pandemic

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Now Fully Online, Lehman's New Wall Street Journal Fellowship Program Still a Go Despite Pandemic
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A new 10-week fellowship program with The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) that will give five Lehman College students the opportunity to gain valuable journalism experience in one of the country’s biggest newsrooms will continue as planned but will take place completely online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“A couple of our other internship programs have been furloughed, but I contacted the WSJ and they said they were not going to pull out,” said Lawrence Fauntleroy, director of CUNY 2X/Tech Talent Pipeline (TTP) at Lehman College, an initiative to double by 2022 the number of Lehman students graduating annually with a tech-related bachelor’s degree prepared to launch careers in the New York City tech ecosystem. “As long as we were going to work hard they were going to meet us halfway. We decided on some modifications and we’ve haven’t looked back.”

Lehman students have until June 1 to apply to the WSJ & Lehman Journo-Tech program; however, the fellowship is a highly competitive one, with only five seats available. Once selected, the fellows will meet 12 hours per week with WSJ staff, beginning with an orientation to cover computational journalism, standards and ethics, writing, and how newsroom and digital experience teams work together. Afterwards, the students will be assigned to one of four divisions at America’s largest newspaper: research and development, technology, new audiences or useful innovation.

“Each of the students will be assigned a project and will be doing hands-on work,” said Till Dalrup, WSJ’s training and outreach coordinator.

That work will include using computational approaches - algorithms, bots, and database mining, for example, that help reporters filter, search and conceptualize content for news generation; they’ll also build tools that will compel readers to engage more fully with WSJ’s content.

“We want to expose Lehman's students to the possibilities within emergent technologies that allow new forms of producing and disseminating journalism,” said Brent Jones, the WSJ’s assistant managing editor for training and outreach.

WSJ executives recently met via Zoom with 17 Lehman student candidates interested in the 10-week fellowship to provide more information about the program, providing students the opportunity to learn more about the program.

One of the students in attendance, Artjola Meli, is doubling majoring in computer science and math. She was in self-quarantine after receiving a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, but attended the meeting despite her illness.

“I was like, I can’t miss this,” she said, “I’m very thankful to the staff for helping provide Lehman students these types of opportunities and I’m excited to learn more how the Journal uses software engineering and computer science to transmit and communicate the news to their readers.”

The Lehman program is only one of two like it in the country, Fauntleroy said. A similar fellowship program, launched last spring at the historically black college or university (HBCU) Morgan State University in Baltimore, Md. aims to increase racial diversity in WSJ’s newsroom. According to the American Society of News Editors 2018 Newspaper Diversity Survey, only 4 percent of the WSJ’s newsroom’s employees are black; 6 percent are Hispanic. Programs like this are meant to change that. “The program at Lehman is a trailblazer as it’s strictly focused on the merger of data science and journalism, unlike what they did at Morgan State,” he said. “They picked us, a public college in New York City and could have easily gone to NYU or Fordham.”

While open to all, ideally students who are enrolled in a Lehman computer science program – with knowledge of cloud computing, databases and basic coding languages – and have an interest in journalism and media are encouraged to apply. Experience working in Python, SQL or other data engineering projects and natural language processing projects is a plus.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to have Lehman students get this type of in-depth exposure and experience,” Fauntleroy said. “This is a signal to the larger business community that making an investment in the talent at Lehman College is well worth it.”

For more information about the program and how to apply contact Fauntleroy, 718-960-2470 or via email at