VICE is paying journalism students for their stories on mental health, whilst boosting coverage on the topic.

As part of their Fellowship For Collegiate Reporting, US college journalists can submit pitches to the VICE digital newsroom. If accepted, the students will learn how their story unfolds from conceptualisation through to publication.

Managing editor, VICE, Rachel Schallom, says the initiative addresses the difficulty to find viable work experience, as the fellowship can be carried out without the student stepping foot outside of home.

"One of the main barriers for young journalists to gain experience is geography. The journalism industry in the US has a coasts problem, and many internships in the big cities like New York and Washington are financially unavailable for young journalists," she said.

"We developed this fellowship as a way to connect with young journalists without them having to be in our Brooklyn office. Plus, fellows will be paid for their work. We've already received applications from across the country, and our hope is that this programme allows us to connect with young journalists that we might not be able to otherwise, along with telling the unique and important stories that diverse perspectives provide."

In addition, students will also gain weekly mentoring from VICE editorial staff, which will include training on how to report on mental health, fleshing out their story ideas, choosing the right approach and finally the editing process.

"The mentorship aspect is important to us, not only because we believe in empowering young people, but also because mental health is a core topic for us. We know there are so many important mental health stories to be told, especially in how it impacts the lives of young people, and we want to train more people on how to tell these stories," Schallom added.

"The students will gain the hard skills of reporting, especially reporting on sensitive topic like mental health. But there's also the softer skills that this experience provides, such as how to work with editors, how to manage your time and hit deadlines and how to communicate professionally.

"Plus, they'll have a published story to add to their portfolio. I went to the University of Missouri, which employs the famous Missouri Method, so I left college with a lot of clips. But I know that's not the case at most universities, and this mentorship provides an opportunity for them to be published."

Funded through their own pockets, the fellowship is the first of its kind at VICE. Schallom says future fellowships will aim to cover different topics of conversation and be open to international students, too. As for this fellowship, applicants have until January 27 to submit their pitches.

"The advice I give most often is to make sure to show how the idea is original. Has it been covered before? How does this move the conversation forward? Why is this story important?

"Instead of an open call for pitches, the application has specific questions. I hope this guides the college journalists and can be a tool for teaching them how to pitch, too.”

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