Microsoft News grant expands MJ Bear Fellowship to fuel the work of young journalists

Mary Jane “MJ” Bear, center, at work with MSN colleagues Klemens Dreesbach and Dominique Lempereur-Babeanu, in an undated photo.

Supporting the future of great journalism means supporting the promising young journalists of tomorrow.

We’re pleased to announce that with the help of a donation from Microsoft News, the Online News Association will expand the number of MJ Bear Fellowships offered to up-and-coming online news leaders from three to six, beginning this year.

The fellowship program is named after founding ONA board member Mary Jane “MJ” Bear, who passed away in 2010. Her storied career included leadership roles at Microsoft and MSN. Based in Vienna, Austria, she worked as executive producer for the Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa MSN websites, founded sites in Greece, Poland, Israel and Turkey, and launched new programming in Kyrgyzstan and Georgia. (Read more about her here.)

“As someone who worked with and was impacted by MJ, I am so happy that we could make this happen,” said Rob Bennett, editor-in-chief and general manager of global content operations for Microsoft News. “She was a fantastic person and an inspiration to many of us at Microsoft and in the news industry. She cared very deeply about helping young journalists find their voice.”

These one-year fellowships provide support, guidance and a showcase to journalists under 30 working on projects aimed at shaping the future of digital journalism, as well as aiding their own professional development. Applications and more about the fellowships can be found here:

“We’ve seen firsthand how focused support like the MJ Bear Fellowship can be a transformational experience for emerging talent in journalism,” said Jennifer Mizgata, ONA director of programs. “MJ Bear Fellows are leading innovation in local news, community engagement and more. We’re proud to be stewards of MJ Bear’s vision and excited to support even more journalists as the program expands.”

Microsoft News believes in the power of high-quality, trustworthy journalism, created by our publishing partners and curated into engaging experiences that encourage a deeper understanding of the world for the benefit of society. We’re proud to support young professionals committed to this important mission.