What our application numbers tell us

We’re constantly striving to expand the reach of the Knight Fellowships program, and the number of people applying to be fellows is one way of assessing how effective we are. The numbers this year tell us that we’re doing something right.

The total number of applicants for next year is 490. That’s the most ever — an increase of 55 percent from last year’s 316 applications.

The biggest increase is applications for the eight International John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships: 351, compared to 216 last year. These 351 applicants come from 85 countries, including some from which we have never had fellows before. India had the most applicants (22), with Russia and Pakistan close behind with 20 each.

The number of people applying for the 12 U.S. JSK Fellowships was up, too: from 100 last year to 139 this year. It’s one of our most diverse pools ever, with 43 percent identifying themselves as people of color and 50 percent identifying as white (7 percent declined to state). Nearly two-thirds are women.

Happily, there is a healthy representation of “legacy media” — about one out of four — as well as less traditional ventures and entrepreneurs. We’re already excited about next year, and we haven’t even made our selections! International Fellows will be announced in March; U.S. Fellows in late April.

These increases follow a heightened effort to increase and broaden our outreach. We advertised in 27 places last year, attended or co-sponsored 10 journalism conferences and revved up our social media presence, especially on Twitter.

Why is expanding our reach and diversifying our pool of applicants so important? Because the more different points of view, different experiences, different perspectives that you get in an organization, the more likely you are to do good, rich work and have good, rich discussions. That’s central to the mission of the Knight Fellowships, which is to foster journalism innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership.

Learn more about this Knight Fellowships commitment to diversity in this video and post of Maynard Institute for Journalism Education President Dori Maynard interviewing Jim Bettinger.