" I’m aware of possibilities because of my stint in America.... I constantly make comparisons with journalism there and here....the United States now represents some kind of standard or baseline. I’m certainly not saying it’s a model of perfection it’s just I now know about different options, approaches, perspectives and methods."

     Mangai Balasegaram, Malaysia, 1994

Program Overview for Potential Participants

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What our participants have to say...

"...AFPF is changing journalism around the world...by helping one journalist at a time...[T]he impact of this program has got to be staggering. You are indeed making this world a better place."

— Randy Smith, Deputy Managing Editor, The Kansas City Star

"I was able to review all my values and concepts about journalism, to analyze my decision to become a journalist a few years ago, make an evaluation of my qualities and defects, reflect about my future, my goals.... I will go back to Brazil a more confident person, conscious of my potentials and eager to try new things as I did here."

— Cristina Masuda, Brazil, 1998

"The late Alfred Friendly did us an enormous favor. He created and endowed a program that has brought to us, every year since it began in 1984, a third-world journalist of first-rate distinction."

— Jim Naughton, retired, The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Poynter Institute

"No other program could do better than the AFPF. [It] helped me understand what a free press means and what is democracy by engaging me in them as a reporter."

— Yu Lei, China, 1997

"The AFPF program helps the fellows as well as the host papers to better understand and appreciate different cultures, races and values that stretch way beyond the differences in newspaper coverage."

— Four-time mentor Pete McConnell (formerly of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, now with the Houston Chronicle)

Program Description
Program History
Criteria of Eligibility
Geographic Distribution of Past Fellows
Selection and Hosts
Program Description

Each year the Alfred Friendly Press Fellowships (AFPF) brings approximately ten mid-career reporters and editors—usually between the ages of 25 and 35—to America for a six-month, in-depth, practical introduction to the professional and ethical standards of the U.S. print media.

Winning a Fellowship is difficult. For every one who is selected, roughly 16 fail to qualify. Among those who have succeeded are Fellows who have become top editors and newsroom managers, founders of news outlets and public relation firms, section heads, bureau chiefs, chief or foreign correspondents, and university professors. Many have received Fulbright, Neiman, Reuters and Yale World Fellowships as well as Chevening Scholarships, and others have received awards, prizes, overseas assignments and/or found jobs outside of their home country. Among our alumni are top editors in Bangladesh, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, China, Colombia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malawi, Malaysia, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, Vietnam and Yugoslavia.

Fellows arrive in Washington, DC for a two-week group orientation before they start as staff reporters, one per host, in newsrooms across the United States. Usually assigned to the city desk to cover local news and features, Fellows may rotate among other sections—arts, business, editorial features, online, etc. With the support and commitment of our host publications, Fellows can enter fully into daily newsroom activities. Guided by talented host reporters and editors, they are able to learn firsthand the practical realities and influential role of journalism in this country.

Program History

In the conviction that a strong free press is essential to the healthy functioning of a democracy, the late Alfred Friendly, a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter and former managing editor of The Washington Post, conceived a fellowship program that would both impart American journalistic traditions and respond to worldwide interest in the dissemination of fair and accurate news. Of the many training programs available to journalists, the Alfred Friendly Press Fellowships is the only one to offer a non-academic, long-term, hands-on experience in a single newsroom. It was Alfred Friendly’s belief that working side by side with reporters and editors is the best way to absorb the practical realities of journalism in this country and the instrumental role it plays in our society.

Alfred Friendly set the following three primary objectives for the fellowship program:

  • Enable Fellows to gain a practical understanding of the function and significance of the free press in American society.

  • Provide Fellows with experience in reporting, writing, and editing that will enhance future professional performance.

  • Foster continuing ties between free press institutions and journalists in the United States and their counterparts in other countries.

To learn more about the lives of the program's founders, please click on the following links to read the obituaries of Alfred Friendly and Mrs. Jean Friendly.

Criteria of Eligibility

Alfred Friendly established the following minimum criteria for Fellows:

  • An excellent command of both written and spoken English as all activities are conducted in English;

  • At least three years of professional experience as a journalist in the print media;

  • Current employment as a journalist with an independent print media organization in the country of citizenship;

  • Early to mid-career status;

  • A demonstrated personal commitment to a career in journalism in the home country.

A typical AFPF Fellow is 29 years old, has six years of print journalism experience and has spent little or no time in the United States. Due to requirements of reporting in the United States, preference is given to applicants who are proficient in using computers and driving automobiles.

Geographic Distribution of Past Fellows

With 279 AFPF Alumni in 78 countries worldwide, AFPF has an extensive network. AFPF is willing to facilitate contact between former Fellows and applicants as well as with American editors and reporters who will be traveling overseas. For a list of the countries from which AFPF Fellows have come, click here. Please contact us if you are interested in getting in touch with our Fellows.

Selection and Hosts

Following the deadline for completed applications, the AFPF Advisory Board evaluates qualified candidates. Composed of print, broadcast and digital journalists who are news media leaders, the Advisory Board includes top-ranked editors, global journalists, innovative educators and pioneering thinkers who work in the U.S. and internationally. Led by Ellen Soeteber, the members are: Gilbert Bailon, Kenneth Bunting, Fred de Sam Lazaro, Dan Gillmor, Jane Hirt, Craig Matsuda, Joseph Odindo and Peter Young. Read more about the Advisory Board members.

After selection is completed, each Fellow is placed at a carefully chosen U.S. newspaper based on the needs and desires of the host newsrooms. Since the first Alfred Friendly Fellows arrived in 1984, 53 newsrooms have hosted Fellows. AFPF has established strong, long-term relationships with several of the largest U.S. daily newspapers. The following host newspapers have hosted ten years or more—The Kansas City Star, Philadelphia Inquirer, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Rocky Mountain News and The Washington Post. Without the dedication of our hosts, AFPF could not exist. Click here for a list of our hosts.


Fellows arrive in Washington for an Orientation Seminar to prepare them — both personally and professionally — for the challenges of living and working in the United States. A major component of the seminar is a refresher course in American journalism. The hands-on sessions are conducted by Alfred Friendly Foundation Board Members and veteran journalists Jonathan Friendly and Randy Smith, a professor of convergence journalism at the University of Missouri School of Journalism (http://journalism.missouri.edu/faculty/randall-smith.html). After writing, reporting, and learning about style, ethics, libel and the culture of American newsrooms, Fellows leave the classroom better prepared for their fellowship assignments. Addressing the Fellows’ personal adaptation to the United States is Dr. Gary Weaver, professor at The American University’s School of International Service (www.american.edu/sis/faculty/gweaver.cfm). Dr. Weaver, a cross-cultural adaptation specialist who has worked with Alfred Friendly Fellows since 1984, discusses what Fellows typically experience during their time in the United States and suggests strategies to handle the various phases of culture shock most Fellows experience. The remainder of the two weeks is spent on professional, tourist and social activities in and around Washington.

For the last two days of the Orientation Seminar, AFPF invites host newspaper representatives to come to Washington so that, as mentors, they can meet the Fellows, discuss plans that the host newsrooms have for them and provide information on logistical concerns such as health insurance, banking, housing, etc. The Fellow and host mentor travel together at the end of the program to begin the Fellow’s five-month assignment.

At the middle of the program Fellows, AFPF staff and Dr. Weaver come together at the University of Missouri School of Journalism (www.journalism.missouri.edu) to discuss the personal and professional experiences of the individual Fellows at that point. The highlight of the Midterm Seminar is the five-day seminar at the journalism school. This seminar, created specifically for Friendly Fellows, focuses on writing, editing and coaching.

A Final Seminar reunites Fellows in Washington DC at the end of August for debriefing, cross-cultural readaptation seminars, a Training the Trainers session, and a graduation ceremony.


To fund the program, Alfred Friendly created and endowed the Alfred Friendly Foundation in 1983. The majority of AFPF’s support comes from his foundation. Further support comes from contributions by host and sending publications, foundations, businesses and individuals.

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Frequently Asked Questions (Fellows)   •   Frequently Asked Questions (Hosts)   •   Read our Mentor Manual
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