What is the Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship Program?

Christopher N. Malagisi
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Posted: May 01, 2017 9:00 AM
What is the Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship Program?

Jeffrey Hollingsworth is the Director of the Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship program and offers fellowships to rising journalist stars, and an annual dinner honoring journalism leaders.

Tell us about the work you do at the Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship program at The Fund for American Studies.  What is the mission of the fellowship program?  

I handle the day-to-day management of the program, aided by its longtime executive assistant, Vanessa Henderson.  The program’s mission is to award full- and part-time, year-long fellowships to print and on-line journalists with fewer than 10 years’ professional experience, enabling them to pursue writing projects on topics of their choosing supportive of American culture, a free society, and free enterprise.

The program was originally administered by the Phillips Foundation, set up by publishing entrepreneur Thomas L. Phillips, and was launched in 1994.  It’s based on a concept by the late, legendary journalist Robert D. Novak, who was a Phillips Foundation trustee.  He observed most journalism awards and prizes going to liberals and suggested that there ought to be a counterweight.  The Fund for American Studies acquired the program in 2013.

What type of candidates are you looking for to apply to the Fellowship Program?

We don’t have an ideological litmus test, but we look kindly upon applicants with perspectives to the right of center.  We look for thought-provoking topics that perhaps aren’t getting much news media attention but ought to.  We also look for projects that could result in a book. Fellows have had some 60 books published, many of them stemming from their fellowship projects.  Finally, we look for applicants committed to journalism as a profession.

On average, we award a half-dozen fellowships annually. Beginning this year, full-time fellowships are funded at $75,000 (up from $50,000) and part-time fellowships at $35,000 (up from $25,000).

You also organize the prestigious Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship Annual Awards Dinner.  Tell us about the event and who you’re honoring this year.

Many guests have told us that they look forward all year to our awards dinner.  This year’s is the 24th annual and is scheduled for May 10 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.  The dinner is where the new fellows are introduced and showcased.

Since 1999, we’ve also honored a distinguished journalist with a Career Achievement Award, named for Tom Phillips.  Among past winners have been Bill Buckley, George Will, Rupert Murdoch, Fred Barnes and Charles Krauthammer, to name a few.  This year’s honoree is Brian Lamb, founder and Executive Chairman of C-SPAN.

Three years ago, we inaugurated the Kenneth Y. Tomlinson Award for Outstanding Journalism, named in memory of the late Ken Tomlinson, a noted journalist who was a Phillips Foundation trustee and former Chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  The first winner was TV investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson. Last year we honored Fox News anchor Bret Baier. This year, the award will go to Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute, a contributing editor for City Journal whose latest book is The War on Cops.

Can anyone attend or sponsor the event?

Yes. For event information, with links to ticket and sponsorship details, click here.

Since the Novak program is not endowed, funds to provide fellowships and administer the program must be raised.  Awards dinner proceeds are the largest single source of those funds, which means ticket sales and dinner sponsorships are essential to the program’s success.

What do you believe are the Top 5 books every conservative should read?

That’s a real tough one, since there are so many excellent choices. My subjective list, in no particular order, includes The Theme is Freedom(Evans), The Road to Serfdom (Hayek), The Conservative Mind (Kirk), God and Man at Yale and Up From Liberalism (tie, Buckley), and Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto (Levin).