Consultant, Race & Journalism Research Project

PEN America, a nonprofit organization working at the intersection of literature and human rights, seeks a consultant to research and write a substantive report exploring the degree to which major newsrooms and media outlets—including newspapers, television, and radio—failed to sufficiently identify and report on the rise of white nationalism in U.S. politics in the context of the election and the presidency of Donald Trump. The findings from this report will inform ongoing efforts within newsrooms across the U.S. to reckon with questions of diversity, race, and racism.

A joint project between PEN America and The Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting, the report will seek to explore the dynamics that may have contributed to these patterns, to offer specific recommendations for how newsrooms can redress blind spots in coverage of race and politics, and to support efforts within major news organizations to examine and address issues around diversity as well as how race and related issues are covered. The project will involve documenting firsthand experiences of journalists, editors, producers, and newsroom leaders—particularly journalists of color and journalists covering race, politics, and the intersection of the two.

The ideal candidate will have extensive experience in journalism and/or longform nonfiction narrative, including identifying and cultivating sources and conducting probing interviews. The consultant should be familiar with the news media industry and be able to establish trusting relationships with the journalists and others who will provide information for this report. Candidates should be able to demonstrate a track record for completing in-depth, longform, research-based writing projects that break new ground. The selected consultant will work with PEN America and Ida B. Wells Society staff on this project; the anticipated length of the report is 40 to 50 pages, and the project timeline is August to December 2021. Candidates representing diverse backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply.

PEN America has a track record of producing landmark reports that bring together research and analysis to inform public debate. Examples include Losing the News: The Decimation of Local News and the Search for Solutions, Arresting Dissent: Legislative Restrictions on the Right to Protest, No Excuse for Abuse: What Social Media Companies Can Do Now to Combat Online Harassment and Empower Users, and Splintered Speech: Digital Sovereignty and the Future of the Internet. The envisioned report will be similar in the use of interviews, assembling of documentation, and will be presented with an engaging, digital-first format.

This position is contingent on funding.

To Apply:

Please submit a resume, a short statement of interest that directly addresses your qualifications for the requirements as outlined above, and the contact information for two references. Please submit the entire application as one PDF to [email protected]. For the subject of the email, please include your name and “Research Consultant” (for example, “Jane Doe – Research Consultant.” Only complete applications will be reviewed, and only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

PEN America is an equal opportunity employer that does not discriminate in its hiring practices, and in order to build the strongest possible workforce, actively seeks a diverse applicant pool.

No phone calls, please.

About PEN America:

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect free expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.