Take The Time To Do Journalism That Matters

O'Brien logoO'Brien Fellows spend nine months reporting stories with the power to compel change

Ashley Nguyen, 2020-21 O’Brien Fellow

"O'Brien offers me the time and space to dig into one topic and establish richer relationships with sources. Plus, I'm not doing it alone! I have two interns to help me sort through information and conduct interviews."

Backed by Marquette University, the O'Brien Fellowship helps news professionals dig deep while mentoring student journalists.

The program honors Marquette alumni Alicia and Perry O'Brien. Their daughter, Patricia Frechette, and her husband, Peter, donated $8.3 million in 2012 to create the fellowship. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is a co-founder and partner. 

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The Latest O'Brien-Backed Journalism

  • Milwaukee's Promise
  • Youth Sports Safety
  • The Future of Rural Wisconsin

Milwaukee's Promise

In June 2020, O'Brien Fellow James Causey, photojournalist Angela Peterson and O'Brien students launched a series examining the racial gaps in opportunity for Milwaukeeans. 

Milwaukee's Promise












Photo by ANGELA PETERSON / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Youth Sports Safety

Current O'Brien Fellow Tim Bannon and O'Brien interns reported on COVID-19 precautions at for-profit youth tournaments, finding little masking, inconsistent rules and loose enforcement. 

Youth Sports Safety










Photo by MICHAEL SEARS / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The Future Of Rural Wisconsin

Current O'Brien Fellow Rick Barrett and reporting interns investigated the increasing migration of city people to small towns due to the pandemic and protests. They found this could be "a lifeline for small towns" that otherwise are losing young people.

A man shooting a bow and arrow in small-town Wisconsin

 Photo by MARK HOFFMAN Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A Unique Journalism Fellowship

  • Report and produce an in-depth public service journalism project on a regional, national or international topic.
  • Receive a $70,000 salary stipend and additional support.
  • Fellows traditionally are in residence, but we are now taking remote or partial remote applications along with full-residency arrangements. The O’Brien newsroom is housed at Marquette University’s Diederich College of Communication near downtown Milwaukee and the Lake Michigan shore.
  • Publish or broadcast the project through your home news organization or, in the case of independent journalists, another outlet.
  • Integrate Marquette’s best journalism students into your projects as reporters and researchers.
  • Help identify a journalism student for a university-funded summer internship at your news organization or other publisher.

Marquette University challenges students and staff to “be the difference” in improving the community. The Catholic and Jesuit institution has educated journalists for 100 years.