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 offered me the time and space to dig into one topic and establish richer relationships with sources. Plus, I wasn't doing it alone! I had 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

  • Broadband Internet Access
  • Trapped on the Tracks
  • "Essential" Birth Workers
  • Sexual Assault Investigations

Disconnected: The Digital Divide

O'Brien Fellow Rick Barrett and reporting interns found a significant portion of rural Wisconsin lacks access to fast broadband internet due to the cost, low population density and restrictions on areas where cables can be buried.

 Disconnected: The Digital Divide


Trapped on the Tracks

O'Brien Fellow Payton Guion and his reporting interns found that straightforward safety upgrades and regulations have been ignored at thousands of railroad crossings, putting drivers' lives in danger.

Payton Guion Trapped on the Tracks

 Photo by Aristide Economopoulos / NJ ADVANCE MEDIA


"Essential" Birth Workers

Current O'Brien Fellow Ashley Nguyen and her reporting interns investigated the slew of barriers to Medicaid reimbursement that doulas, or "essential" maternal healthcare providers, face. 

Doula Roberta Eaglehorse-Ortiz 

 Photo by WESLEY LAPOINTE for The Lily

From 'Hero to Zero'

2019-20 O'Brien Fellow Katelyn Ferral revealed that Guard units have buried sexual assault allegations, withheld crucial documents from victims and retaliated against the women who have come forward. She reported for The Capital Times in conjuction with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

 Teresa James



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.

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