Knight-Wallace Fellowship

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Knight-Wallace Fellowship
FounderBen L. Yablonky
PurposeAllows accomplished journalists time to reflect on their careers and focus on honing their skills
HeadquartersWallace House
Official language
Program Director
Lynette Clemetson
Associate Director
Birgit Rieck
Parent organization
University of Michigan
AffiliationsLivingston Awards for Young Journalists
$2.3 million
Endowment$60 million
Formerly called
NEH Journalism Fellowship (1973–1979)
Journalists in Residence (1979–1984)
Michigan Journalism Fellowship (1984–2002)

The Knight-Wallace Fellowship (previously known as the NEH Journalism Fellowship and the Michigan Journalism Fellowship) is an award given to accomplished journalists at the University of Michigan. Knight-Wallace Fellowships are awarded to reporters, editors, photographers, producers, editorial writers and cartoonists, with at least five years of full-time, professional experience in the news media.

The fellows attend mandatory seminars twice weekly, and each fellow pursues an independent study plan which involves auditing University of Michigan classes and working with a faculty advisor. International travel is an important part of the fellowship, with annual trips to Argentina, Brazil, and Turkey.

Fellows are given a stipend of $70,000, paid in monthly installments from September to April.[1] The fellowship home is at the Wallace House in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


The Michigan Journalism Fellows program, funded by National Endowment for the Humanities and modeled on Harvard's Nieman Fellowship, was established in 1973. The founding director was Ben L. Yablonky[2] (1910–1991),[3] a labor activist and University of Michigan journalism professor (as well as a former Nieman Fellow). The fellowship program was initially run out of the University of Michigan journalism department. In 1979, the journalism department was disbanded, and the fellowship was moved to the auspices of the university's Literature, Science and Art department. At this point, the program was known as Journalists in Residence.[4]

In 1980, Graham B. Hovey (1916–2010),[5] a former New York Times journalist, succeeded Jablonky as program director,[6] serving until 1986.[7] (The program hosts an annual lecture named in Hovey's honor and delivered by a former fellow;[8] 2015 was the 30th Graham Hovey Lecture.) From 1984–2001, the program was again known as the Michigan Journalism Fellowship.

Charles R. Eisendrath, a former fellowship recipient (1974–1975) and Time magazine staff writer, had joined the University of Michigan's faculty after his fellowship, directing its master’s program in journalism. In 1981 he became founding director of the Livingston Awards, also run out of the University of Michigan. In 1984, Eisendrath joined a committee (led by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation) to increase the program's endowment, which was gradually losing its NEH support under the presidency of Ronald Reagan.[9] Eisendrath took over as program director in 1986 upon Hovey's retirement. At that point the program's endowment was down to $30,000.[10] The Washington Post's publisher, Katharine Graham, was an early donor,[9] as was the Knight Foundation.[11] Eisendrath also recruited the assistance of renowned journalist (and University of Michigan alumnus) Mike Wallace, who became an active proponent of and financial donor to the program. In 1992, Wallace and his wife Mary donated the Arts and Crafts-era Wallace House to the program, which became its headquarters,[10] and in 1995, Wallace gave the program $1 million.[9] Wallace made regular appearances at Wallace House, giving seminars and meeting with fellows, until shortly before his death in 2012.[10] By this time, the fellowship was being administered by the University's Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies.[10]

Before becoming fully endowed the program would travel to Toronto and meet with the Massey College Journalism fellows, to Chicago to meet with Chicago Tribune journalists, and to Atlanta to visit CNN.[citation needed] The program began traveling to Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 2000,[12] and added a component in São Paulo, Brazil, in 2009.[12] An annual trip to Istanbul, Turkey, was added in 2005.[12] (In 2009 and 2010 the program went to Moscow, Russia; instead of Istanbul.)[12] In 2013 a trip to Alberta, Canada, became part of the program.[12]

In 2002, the Knight Foundation awarded a $5 million challenge to the program, establishing fellowships for international journalists (which usually include journalists from Argentina's Clarín and Brazil's Folha de S. Paulo, in exchange for their organization's hosting work on the fellowship trips).[12] Mike Wallace provided $1 million in matching funds,[13] and the program was renamed the Knight-Wallace Fellowship.[11]

Since 2012, the fellowship has been administered by the University Provost's office.[14] Its current endowment is $60 million, with a yearly operating cost of about $2.3 million.[9]

In 2015, the fellowship program and the Livingston Awards were rebranded as Wallace House.[citation needed]

In October 2015, after nearly 30 years as director, KWF director Charles R. Eisendrath announced his retirement, effective July 1, 2016.[15] A search committee led by journalist Ken Auletta and University of Michigan Engineering professor Thomas Zurbuchen selected his replacement.[9] In April 2016, former KWF fellow (2009) Lynette Clemetson was named next director of Wallace House.[16][17]

Program structure[edit]

Between 18 and 20 fellowships are awarded annually; generally 12 to Americans and 6 to 8 to foreign journalists. (Relationships with the BBC, Argentina's newspaper Clarín, Brazil's Folha de S. Paulo, and South Korea's Shinyoung Journalism Fund of the Kwanhun Club guarantee international fellows from the above newspapers.)

Specific fellowships include:

While the program initially limited its fellowships to full-time salaried journalists, in the 2010s, as the journalism industry went through so many changes, it increasingly began opening its doors to freelancers.[9]

The program specifies that funders have no input on the selection of the endowed fellowships.[18]

Current Knight-Wallace board members include Jill Abramson, Jeff Fager, Charles Gibson (1974), Clarence Page, and Michele Norris. Former board members include Mike Wallace and David E. Davis.[19]


In 2000, fellows received a stipend of $40,000.[20]

In 2003[21] and 2004,[22] fellows received a $55,000 stipend.

Currently, the annual stipend is $70,000 plus university tuition and health insurance.[1]

Notable Knight-Wallace Fellows[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Press release. "U-M names Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellows," University of Michigan News Service (May 8, 2012).
  2. ^ "Thomas, Mary Edsall to deliver Yablonky Lecture," University Record (Nov. 2, 1992).
  3. ^ Malamute, Neil. "Memorial: Ben L. Yablonky," University of Michigan Faculty History Project. Accessed Oct. 16, 2015.
  4. ^ Eisendrath, Charles B. "The Luxury to Experiment," Archived 2015-10-28 at the Wayback Machine Knight-Wallace Fellows at Michigan website (2010). Accessed Oct. 16, 2015.
  5. ^ "Graham B. Hovey (1916-2010)," (February 25, 2010).
  6. ^ Johnston, Laurie and Albin Krebs. "Notes on People: A Newsman at Liberty," New York Times (July 22, 1980).
  7. ^ "Paid Notice: Deaths: Hovey, Graham," New York Times (February 28, 2010).
  8. ^ Riley, Melissa. "Hovey lecture to explore changes in higher education," University Record (Sept. 9, 2013).
  9. ^ a b c d e f Friess, Steve. "Leader who dared journalists to dream steps down," Columbia Journalism Review (Oct. 14, 2015).
  10. ^ a b c d Bacon, John U. "Column: Thank You, Mr. Wallace: Legendary journalist changed lives, including those in UM program," Ann Arbor Chronicle (Apr. 13, 2012).
  11. ^ a b c d e Press release. "$5 Million from Knight Foundation and $1 Million from Mike Wallace Launch New Era for Journalism Fellows at the University of Michigan Program Renamed The Knight-Wallace Fellows at Michigan," Archived 2013-09-22 at the Wayback Machine Knight Foundation website (Sep 28, 2002).
  12. ^ a b c d e f Eisendrath, Charles J. "Program Has Been Built by Those It Serves," KWF newsletter vol. 23, #1 (Winter 2013).
  13. ^ Moses, Lucia. "Knight's aid totals $6.3M," Editor & Publisher vol. 135, #35 (Sep 30, 2002), p. 5.
  14. ^ "Office of the Provost: Reporting Units," University of Michigan Provost website. Accessed Feb. 5, 2014.
  15. ^ Eisendrath, Charles R. "News From Wallace House: On the Road to a New Exit," Archived 2015-06-14 at the Wayback Machine Knight-Wallace Fellows at Michigan website. Accessed Oct. 14. 2015.
  16. ^ Lengel, Allen. "NPR’s Lynette Clemetson Named Director of U-M's Wallace House for Journalists," Deadline Detroit (Apr. 5, 2016).
  17. ^ Silberman, Eve. "Lynette Clemetson: The new face of Wallace House," Ann Arbor Observer (July 2017).
  18. ^ Blum, Debra E. "Nike's role in selection process for fellowship spurs controversy," The Chronicle of Higher Education 42. 14 (Dec 1, 1995), p. A47.
  19. ^ "David E. Davis Jr., auto writer and Automobile Magazine founder dies". Detroit Free Press, March 28, 2011, Mark Phelan.
  20. ^ "Chronicle Reporter Yumi Wilson Named Michigan Journalism Fellow," San Francisco Chronicle (May 1, 2000).
  21. ^ "12 Journalists Get Michigan Fellowships," New York Times (25 May 2003), section 1, p. 23.
  22. ^ a b Palms, Wendy. "Knight-Wallace journalism fellows announced," The University Record (May 18, 2004).
  23. ^ Toby, Mekeisha Madden. "Gibson Visits Channel 7," Detroit News (29 Jan 2007), p. E.4.
  24. ^ "Past Fellows: 1977-1978," Archived 2015-10-28 at the Wayback Machine Knight-Wallace Fellows at Michigan website. Accessed Dec. 2, 2015.
  25. ^ "1985-1986 Fellows," Wallace House website. Accessed Jan. 10, 2019.
  26. ^ The 1998 Pulitzer Prize Winners: National Reporting: Russell Carollo and Jeff Nesmith," The Pulitzer Prizes website. Accessed Dec. 16, 2012.
  27. ^ "Knight-Wallace Fellows 1991 to 1992". University of Michigan. Archived from the original on 2014-04-13.
  28. ^ "Former Journalism Fellow wins Pulitzer Prize," The University Record (April 22, 1997).
  29. ^ Knight-Wallace Fellows at Michigan. "Past Fellows: 1995-1996" Archived 2013-01-09 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 2008-08-02.
  30. ^ "John U. Bacon". Michigan Radio. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
  31. ^ "Richard Deitsch: Adjunct Faculty," Archived 2014-04-13 at the Wayback Machine Columbia Journalism School website. Accessed May 20, 2014.
  32. ^ "UM Knight Wallace Fellows". Archived from the original on 2011-10-16. Retrieved 2011-10-31.
  33. ^ Press release. "University of Michigan Names Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellows," Archived 2014-05-03 at the Wayback Machine Knight-Wallace Fellows at Michigan website (2011). Accessed Sept. 29, 2015.
  34. ^ Bohn, John. "Knight-Wallace Fellow Kate Brooks to discuss decade-long work in Middle East," The Michigan Daily (November 14, 2012).
  35. ^ Arrant, Chris. "Cartoonist Josh Neufeld receives Knight-Wallace Fellowship in Journalism," Comic Book Resources: Robot 6 (May 11, 2012).
  36. ^ Spurgeon, Tom. "Cartoonist Josh Neufeld Win UM Knight-Wallace Fellowship," Comics Reporter (May 11, 2012).
  37. ^ "2016-2017". Wallace House. Retrieved 2020-05-11.

External links[edit]