Open City Application FAQ

What should I include in my project proposal?

We’re looking to see a project proposal (900 words maximum) that will pitch and outline the two stories you plan to write for Open City. Our fellows should plan to publish two stories throughout their fellowship. You should outline a writing project that will:

  • evince a strong sense of place and evoke the bustling life, senses, and politics of Asian American and Muslim and Arab American neighborhoods in the tristate area of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut
  • engage with interesting issues, particularly issues of inequality, social justice, immigration, and race
  • depict the above through sophisticated writing: original angles, strong voice, excellent writing, and rich, detailed, and fact-checked reporting

We want to know that you have a plan for the nine months. Describe in detail two of the story ideas that might speak to larger themes, ideas, or issues. Why are these ideas important? Why are they unique? Why are you well-suited to report on these issues? And why is Open City the best place to imagine this project?

Please be specific and treat the project proposal like a lengthy pitch to an editor. This section will be heavily weighted. The story ideas you pitch will be treated as the pieces we expect you to work on during the nine-month grant period.

We also want to know where you’re coming from and where you want to go. Tell us why you are the perfect person to write about issues in Asian immigrant communities across the tristate area? Why are you best-suited to write about the specific neighborhood(s) you’ve proposed? Please also discuss your history of publications (if any) and your ability to report and conduct interviews for nonfiction writing.  

What do Open City Fellows write during the fellowship term?

Over a nine-month period, fellows write at least two pieces. The pieces will be edited rigorously by both staff and the fellowship cohort. We welcome narrative-driven features, profiles, interviews, editorials, essays, and humor pieces, as well as multimedia. Here are a few examples:

Are there additional requirements for the Open City Fellowship?

The most important thing is for you to ensure you have the time to complete the written pieces. If you are selected as a fellow, we ask you to attend the following. Please note that these gatherings may be held virtually:

  • A collaborative editorial meeting with the Open City editor every month
  • Guest speaker sessions with former Fellows and other journalism professionals
  • Occasional get-togethers with all Fellows
  • An initial orientation at the start of the nine-month term

What is the selection process for the Open City Fellowship?

The Open City Fellows are chosen based on the following criteria:

  • Relevance, quality, and cohesiveness of project proposal
  • Merit of past work, based on submitted work sample
  • Demonstrated ability to cover the proposed neighborhoods and grasp of the topics the candidate proposed to write about
  • Career record, as described in the resume
  • Demonstrated willingness to take the most advantage of the Fellowship: e.g., to attend ALL trainings and craft sessions, and take advantage of publishing opportunities.

Applicants will be assessed based on a multi-round selection process, in which the applicant pool grows smaller in each round. The assessment process will involve AAWW staff, as well as an outside jury composed of literary and journalism professionals. Finalist applicants will be interviewed via video chat. The Board of Directors does not review the work of applicants or make aesthetic judgments.

What do I need to submit for the application?

Submissions must be made via Submittable. Full application instructions are here.

What is the application fee?

There is no application fee for the Open City Fellowship.