The Freedom Forum administers and funds the AIJI, including tuition, fees, books, and room and board. To be eligible for AIJI, Native students must have completed at least one year of college. Applications for the program will be accepted from new participants and from returning AIJI students who want more training.
Students must be able to provide their own transportation to and from Vermillion, and must attend the full program beginning Sunday afternoon, June 3, and ending Friday afternoon, June 22. Each student will have a single room in a dormitory. Meals will be provided on campus.
Students attend AIJI for free and receive other financial assistance. Applications are welcome from any Native American college student hoping to become a journalist. In its first six years, 143 students completed the program.
"The intent of AIJI is to recruit, train, mentor and retain Native Americans for journalism careers," said Jack Marsh, AIJI director and Freedom Forum vice president for diversity programs. "AIJI is an intense and demanding academic program that opens doors for those who have the passion and the potential to succeed as professional journalists."
AIJI students will be eligible for college credit by taking one of several journalism courses taught at the Freedom Forum's Al Neuharth Media Center on The University of South Dakota's campus in Vermillion. Once accepted, AIJI students will be placed in an appropriate course based on their experience, interests and previous coursework.
Program graduates will earn four hours of college credit from USD that students may transfer to their current school. In addition, graduates will receive a $500 stipend/scholarship from the Freedom Forum, paid when the student resumes full-time classes in the fall. Select AIJI graduates also will be hired to work at www.reznetnews.org, the Native American online news site, when they return to school.
Top AIJI graduates will be hired for six-week paid internships as reporters, copy editors, photographers and multi-media journalists at daily newspapers and with The Associated Press beginning about July 1. Last summer, 17 AIJI graduates worked in paid news internships.
The AIJI is part of the Freedom Forum's commitment to increase employment diversity at daily newspapers. The American Society of Newspaper Editors' annual employment census last year identified about 300 Natives among the industry's 54,000 newspaper journalists.
"Having even one Native American working in a newsroom makes that newspaper more aware of Indians in its community, and more sensitive and intelligent in reporting stories about them," Marsh said. "American Indians are by far the most underrepresented people of color in the news media, and this often results in stereotypical and erroneous coverage of Indian issues and Indian people."
In addition to journalism diversity programs at USD, the Freedom Forum funds and helps organize the Native American Journalism Career Conference at Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota's Black Hills. The workshop, April 17-19, introduces high school and college Native students to journalism career options.
Instructions and application forms are available from Janine Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org or 605-677-5424.AIJI forbids the use of alcohol, other intoxicants and illegal drugs at any time during the program. Violators will be dismissed from the institute.