The Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program trains leaders of the world’s most respected news organizations and promising media start-ups to lead innovation and solve strategic business challenges in a time of rapid transformation, uncertainty, and opportunity. Fellows use the 21-week program to launch, accelerate, and implement a real-world project that is critical to the mission of their organizations and integrated into their day-to-day work.
The program begins with a two-week intensive at the Columbia Journalism School campus in New York City, where fellows form a tight-knit cohort through an immersive venture design bootcamp that serves as the framework for their projects, and then dive deeper into executive MBA-level topics led by experts from across Columbia University and industry. Fellows then return to their organizations to immediately implement what they learned through topic-focused design sprints. For the next 18 weeks, they are supported through a weekly virtual cohort meeting that rotates between project feedback and intimate conversations with industry speakers, complemented by individual coaching with the Director. The program culminates back at Columbia for a final week-long intensive, including final project presentations.
Fellows in this five-month low residency program spend three weeks at Columbia Journalism School in New York City, starting with a 10-day residency from May 3-14, 2021. Fellows then work on their project and assignments back at their organizations and attend a weekly virtual cohort meeting. Fellows return for one final week of residency, September 20-24, 2021.
Note: In-person sessions will adhere to CDC Covid-19 safety guidelines as well as all Covid-19 regulations and protocols required by New York City and Columbia University. Should any of these public health measures prevent in-person instruction, programming will be held virtually.
The program focuses on:
- Leadership and Building a Culture of Innovation
- Venture Design Innovation Process
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
- Audience and Trends
- Product and Marketing
- Business Models and Strategy
- Negotiations and Pitching
Each fellow is required to bring to the program an individual project of strategic importance to their news organization and of critical importance to their own role.
What Sets the Program Apart
News executives no longer have the luxury of a full year to work on a project. The Sulzberger Program serves as an accelerator for mission-critical projects delivered at a pace that maximizes project success and real-world impact. Participants experience a year's worth of executive education in a focused, concentrated 21-week timeframe.
Innovation-Focused For executives in journalism navigating an industry facing constant disruption, traditional management training won’t suffice. Media industry leaders need to build cultures and create processes within their media companies that don’t just help them come up with “the next big thing,” but enables the organization to understand and anticipate the changing needs of their audiences, experiment with emerging technologies, and seek sustainable business models as the world rapidly changes beneath their feet. They need to proactively recognize opportunities for innovation and persuade their stakeholders for the resources to pursue them. The Sulzberger Program specifically focuses on building leaders who will thrive under these conditions.
Experiential Learning with Immediate Organizational Impact Leaders learn by doing. The Sulzberger Program, redesigned in 2020, maximizes personal growth, retention, and real-world applicability through active, experiential learning. Our unique venture design bootcamp is an immersive experience that has fundamentally transformed how executives approach building and leading their organizations. Our project focus means that participants create measurable outcomes throughout the term by working on regular assignments and checking in with faculty, ensuring that what they learn in the classroom translates to their newsroom.
Leverages Columbia, Industry, and Alumni Networks The Sulzberger Program leverages the assets of Columbia University, pulling instructors from the Columbia Journalism and Business Schools, drawing industry innovators working in one of the world’s great media capitals, and tapping into the powerful Columbia Journalism School and Sulzberger alumni networks. This community gives Sulzberger Fellows a broad perspective and powerful network as they take their place leading innovation in media and journalism.
How It Works
Week 1: The program begins with a five-day immersive project-based Venture Design Bootcamp at the New York City campus. The bootcamp is rooted in the program that was taught to hundreds of entrepreneurs and media executives at Matter Ventures, an early-stage media startup accelerator. In small teams, fellows are tasked with launching a new venture from scratch. Over the course of the week, fellows will focus on different facets of the venture’s design, from the end consumer to the requisite technology to the revenue model, before they close out the group work and turn the lessons learned to their own individual projects.
Week 2: In the second week on the Columbia campus, the program moves from the bootcamp model into workshops, case studies, and guest speaker events that dive deeper into concepts introduced in the first week. Taught by faculty in Columbia's Journalism and Business Schools, topics covered this week include: Leadership, Trends, Audience, Product, Business Model, Marketing, Strategy, Negotiations, and Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion.
Weeks 3-20: After two intensive weeks in New York, fellows return to their newsrooms and begin to apply the lessons learned. The fellows complete two-week sprints, in which they interrogate, test and apply learnings to their own projects, using the same set of topics that they used in their group work in Week One. Fellows have a weekly virtual meeting that rotates between getting feedback on their project deliverables and having intimate conversations with industry leaders. Fellows also have one-on-one coaching sessions with the Director.
Week 21: The final week brings the fellows back to New York City for reinforcement of the tools and approaches learned and final project presentations that prepare the fellows to seek support and resources from key stakeholders at their organizations.
Who Should Attend
The Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program is designed for senior and rising newsroom and business-of-news practitioners who are poised to take on more significant leadership challenges in their current organization and across the industry. Fellows come from a wide variety of news organizations, from the U.S. and internationally and from large national media to those that are small, local, nonprofit, or start-ups. Fellows are expected to have from 7-15 years of relevant experience, including some people management skills or past roles in which working across teams was key to organizational success. Titles from the past cohort include Editor-In-Chief, Managing Director, CEO, Co-Founder, Assistant Managing Editor, Executive Editor, VP of Product, Director of Growth, and Publisher.
While the program is primarily designed for one Fellow from each organization working as an individual on a project, increasingly we are seeing organizations send a cross-functional team of 1-3 fellows to work on the same project to great success. We encourage organizations interested in fostering multidisciplinary collaboration to consider sending a team, as this approach is a strong fit for the ethos of the program.
The Sulzberger Program is dedicated to creating and promoting a diverse, inclusive, and equitable environment within the program and in the journalism industry at large. That starts with the cohort we assemble. We strongly encourage applications from and nominations of rising leaders who self-identify as being from groups typically underrepresented in journalism. We are also actively seeking funders who want to financially sponsor Fellows from these underrepresented groups.
Corey Ford, Director
Corey Ford joined Columbia in 2019 to redesign, run, and teach The Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program based on his extensive experience coaching and teaching media entrepreneurs and executives through his company, Matter Ventures. As CEO & Founder of Matter, Ford consults, coaches and teaches executives and entrepreneurs on innovation leadership, process and strategy.
From 2012 to 2019, Matter was a San Francisco and New York City-based startup accelerator and venture capital firm grounded in the principles of design thinking that supported early-stage media entrepreneurs and mission-aligned media institutions building scalable ventures that make society more informed, inclusive, and empathetic. Ford led Matter in raising two venture capital funds, running eight accelerator cohorts, investing in 73 portfolio companies, bringing together 12 institutional media and technology partners, delivering five partner accelerator programs, training local news organizations across the United States and Asia Pacific through Open Matter, assembling a network of 340 mentors, establishing media innovation spaces and communities in both San Francisco and New York City and building a team of extraordinary human beings on both coasts.
Prior to Matter, Corey built Runway, a pre-team, pre-idea incubator for entrepreneurs at Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors. He also taught design thinking innovation at the Institute of Design at Stanford University, also known as “the d.school.”
Ford began his career in journalism managing the production of 17 films for the PBS/WGBH series FRONTLINE for films that won an Emmy and a duPont-Columbia Gold Baton Award. He earned an MBA at Stanford, was a Kauffman Fellow and was a Morehead Scholar at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Tuition is $20,000 for the complete program. Fees include course training, daily breakfast and lunches, and a few group dinners during the residency weeks. All other expenses, including travel and lodging, are the responsibility of participants and/or their sponsoring organizations. Participants can take advantage of Columbia discounts at area hotels.
The Sulzberger Fellowship is open to any leader in journalism and media from anywhere in the world to apply to directly. Most fellows are sponsored directly by their employer or by a donor to their employer. Available scholarships are listed below, and new scholarships may become available throughout the application period. Individuals without a sponsoring organization or relevant scholarship may also choose to apply directly and self-fund. We encourage all interested individuals to apply directly to the program regardless of their current sponsorship status.
Below are available scholarships that individual applicants can apply to directly. To apply to any scholarships, applicants should fill out the standard application by the standard timeline listed below, check the box for the scholarships they are interested in, and complete the supplemental questions about their eligibility for the scholarship(s).
Note: This list will be updated as we add new scholarships. Applicants who have already completed an application will be notified of any new scholarships as they become available. If you would like to provide a scholarship, please reach out directly to the Program Director.
Gordon Gray Jr. Fellowships (Local Media, USA)
Columbia Journalism School is pleased to announce that applications are now being accepted for two fellowships, made possible by Gordon Gray Jr., to the Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program in 2021. These two fellowships are available to media executives and managers from U.S. news organizations that focus on covering news in one geographic region of the United States, more than national or international stories. News organizations may be commercial or non-profit, and work may be published in any medium, on any platform. The fellowships fully cover tuition and fees to the course. Fellowship winners and their news organizations will be responsible for all other expenses associated with course participation, including airfare, hotel accommodations, and meals outside of program sessions.
Application & Deadlines
Applications are now open and will be reviewed on a rolling basis. The final deadline to submit an application is March 1, 2021. The cohort will be finalized no later than March 19, 2021.
The application is a simple TypeForm that consists of 4 sections:
- Basic Information
- Demographic Information
- Application Questions
- Financial Considerations
Before you begin the TypeForm, you will want to prepare paragraph-length answers in English to the following 5 questions:
- Describe your current role and responsibilities in your organization.
(For context, please include who you lead and who you report to.)
- a) Paste a link to a project or work sample that you are proud to have significantly contributed to:
b) Tell us more about the link you just provided. Why are you proud of it? What was your role?
- Why do you want to be a Sulzberger Fellow?
- Describe your proposed Sulzberger Project.
(What problem are you trying to solve and why? What team, resources, and internal support for this project do you currently have? How much time can you spend on this project as part of your current job?)
- If your first choice of project were not to work out, what would you choose as an alternative project?
Once your application is reviewed, promising applicants will be selected for a virtual interview with Director Corey Ford.
Please expand for answers for commonly asked questions.
When should I plan to be in New York?
Classes at Columbia are held in May (ten class days) and September (five class days). The 2021 dates are May 3-14 and September 20-24.
What if COVID-19 makes travel and/or in-person instruction unsafe?
While the Sulzberger Program normally runs from January through April, we shifted the 2021 Sulzberger Program to the summer in order to maximize the chances of having safe, in-person learning at Columbia. If, as we near the start of the program, conditions appear to be unsafe due to COVID-19, we will switch to online learning until it is safe to gather in-person again.
I am concerned about privacy surrounding my work and my news organization. How do you address this?
We understand that the topics that this course takes on—revenue models, product development, resource allocation, teams building—speak directly to news organizations’ most serious concerns, and we respect a desire to keep this private. We have found that one of the most fruitful and rewarding elements of the program is what Fellows learn from their peers, and so we have a strict norm of respect, discretion, and confidentiality within the cohort.
I am unsure whether I have the "right" project for the program. Can I talk it over with you?
Don't worry about getting the project exactly right as part of your application. The iterative and feedback-driven nature of the program means that your project will evolve through the course of the program. The rapidly changing nature of the industry and the world means you may need to shift strategic focus along the way. That's what innovative leaders do. Do your best to come up with a primary project focus and a back-up project focus and articulate those in your application. As part of the interview process, you will talk through your project with the Program Director and get feedback on how to adjust it for the program. All projects should be strategically important to your organization and should be part of your day-to-day work during the course of your program. We are not interested in doing projects as an academic exercise.
My company is not currently sponsoring a fellowship. Can I still apply?
Yes. If you are interested in the program, you should apply directly, regardless of whether your company is currently sponsoring a fellow. If your application looks promising, we may be able to work with you to discuss this opportunity with your employer. We may also have additional scholarship opportunities that present themselves. Just make clear in your application whether you already have a financial sponsor and, if you are not able to obtain one, whether you are able to self-fund.
How much time will the Program Director be able to devote to my work?
All Fellows will have significant time with the Program Director. The Program Director will be teaching and/or facilitating every experience in the course and giving detailed feedback on each fellow's project. During the 18 weeks between program sessions, the Program Director will facilitate and/or teach each weekly virtual session. The Program Director will also hold one-on-one coaching sessions with each Fellow.
The program is over the summer. Will I still be able to take a summer vacation?
Yes. All fellows are required to participate in the three intensive in-person weeks without exception. During the 18 weeks of weekly virtual classes, we expect that Fellows may miss one or two sessions due to summer vacations. Fellows should proactively communicate any potential scheduling conflicts in advance.
Where will I stay when in New York? Is there housing?
There is no housing associated with the course. Columbia University has relationships with many area hotels, many of which offer a preferential rate to those studying at the Journalism School. You can download a list of some of these options here. This list is not an endorsement.
I have food allergies and/or sensitivities. How will you handle this?
Breakfast and lunch are both catered daily, and there is one group dinner each session week. If you have dietary restrictions or sensitivities, please notify Director of Professional Programs, Kate Kennedy, regarding their nature before the program start date.
What type of diploma will I receive?
This is a non-degree program. You will receive a statement of attendance upon completion of the program.
Why is this called the Sulzberger Program?
In 2005, the sisters of the legendary New York Times publisher Arthur Ochs (“Punch”) Sulzberger honored their brother by investing in a program they hoped would encourage innovation and sustainability in the news business. In collaboration with Columbia Journalism School, they envisioned a program that would focus on solutions and would provide the leaders of the industry with the tools they need for sustained success. The Sulzberger Program launched its first class of Fellows in 2007.
With whom may I speak about the logistics of the program?
Please contact Kate Kennedy, Director, Professional Programs, at email@example.com or register for an information session with Corey Ford:
Our fellows are executives from all media platforms and business models, including for‐ and not‐for‐profit journalism. To learn more about our most recent class of fellows, please visit our Alumni page.
|Year||First Name||Last Name||Company|
|2020||Sarah||Ashworth||Vermont Public Radio|
|2020||Carla||Miranda||O Estado de São Paulo|
|2020||Sandra||Romandía||La Silla Rota|
|2020||Amanda||Rottier||The New York Times|
|2020||Jan||Schwalbe||Finanz und Wirtschaft|
|2020||Sam||Sifton||The New York Times|
|2018||Mark||Hansen||Columbia Journalism School|
|2018||Milind||Kamlakar Khandekar||ABP News Network|
|2018||Marc||Lacey||The New York Times|
|2018||Ximena||Leon de Campo||Grupo RPP|
|2018||Kristen||Muller||Southern California Public Radio|
|2018||Manuel||Delgado Nachtigall||Grupo RPP|
|2018||Michael||Reilly||MIT Technology Review|
|2018||Heidi||Robdrup||Danish Broadcasting Corporation|
|2018||Kevin||Sullivan||Reveal, Center for Investigative Reporting|
|2017||LaSharah||Bunting||The New York Times|
|2017||Max||Da Silva||The New York Times|
|2017||Frida||Delgado Nachtigall||Gruppo RPP|
|2017||Laura||Frank||Rocky Mountain Public Broadcasting|
|2017||Jag||Sanger||AHG Pty, LTD|
|2016||Matt||Ericson||The New York Times|
|2016||Erin||Grau||The New York Times|
|2016||Mary||Walter-Brown||Voice of San Diego|
|2016||Irving||Washington||Online News Association|
|2015||Sam||Dolnick||The New York Times|
|2015||Michael||Freeman||The Orlando Sentinel and Forum Publishing Group|
|2015||Alex||Hardiman||The New York Times|
|2015||Camille||McDuffie||Columbia Global Reports|
|2015||Will||Pry||The Dallas Morning News|
|2015||Jon||Sawyer||Pullitzer Center on Crisis Reporting|
|2015||Charles||Sennott||The Ground Truth|
|2015||Susan||Smith Richardson||The Chicago Reporter|
|2014||Brenda||Breslauer||New York Public Media|
|2014||Stephen||Dunbar-Johnson||The New York Times Company|
|2014||Scott||Finn||West Virginia Public Broadcasting|
|2014||Susan||Mercandetti||Salt Point Strategies|
|2014||Nicki||Purcell||The Dallas Morning News|
|2014||Christa||Scharfenberg||Center for Investigative Reporting|
|2014||Michael||Slackman||The New York Times|
|2014||Christine||Souders||Columbia Journalism School|
|2014||Cheryl||Sullivan||The Christian Science Monitor|
|2013||Peter||Barthel||Vertical Media GmbH|
|2013||Rick||Berke||The New York Times|
|2013||Tom||Huang||The Dallas Morning News|
|2013||Mark||Katches||Oregonian Media Group|
|2013||Meredith||Kokos||Boston Globe Media|
|2013||Christopher||Ladd||The New York Times|
|2013||Nunzio||Michael Lupo||The Atlanta Journal-Constitution|
|2013||Amelia||Newcomb||The Christian Science Monitor|
|2013||Eric||Ulken||The Philadelphia Inquirer|
|2012||Adrian||Acosta||Journal Media Group|
|2012||David||Albright||ESPN Digital and Print Media|
|2012||Leona||Allen||The Dallas Morning News|
|2012||Clayton||Collins||The Christian Science Monitor|
|2012||Brian||Fallon||Distilled Media Group|
|2012||Baadur||Koplatadze||The Caucasus School of Journalism and Media Management|
|2012||Michael||Manning||The Boston Globe|
|2012||Ellen||McDonnell||Ellen McDonnell Consulting|
|2012||Torrey||Oberfest||Hachette Book Group|
|2012||Michael||Shapiro||Columbia Journalism School|
|2012||Amy||Singer||Columbia Journalism School|
|2012||Achilles||Tsaltas||The New York Times|
|2011||Karen||Bordeleau||The Providence Journal|
|2011||Neill||Borowski||Central New York Media Group|
|2011||Andrew||DeVigal||University of Oregon|
|2011||Peter||Doucette||The Boston Globe|
|2011||Brian||Hamman||The New York Times|
|2011||Marc||Lemcke||Jule Holding, LLC|
|2011||Benjamin||Monnie||The New York Times|
|2011||David||Scott||The Christian Science Monitor|
|2011||Peter||Waelty||20 Minuten AG|
|2011||Abi||Wright||Columbia Journalism School|
|2010||Johannes Vitus||Boege||Axel Springer|
|2010||Thomas||Cavallaro||The New York Times|
|2010||David Keith||Dahl||The Boston Globe and Freelance Contributor for BBC|
|2010||Kerrie||Gillis||The New York Times|
|2010||Timothy||Griggs||The Texas Tribune|
|2010||Susan||Hackney||The Christian Science Monitor|
|2010||Nicole||Hollway||Because Really, LLC|
|2010||Marshall||Ingwerson||The Christian Science Monitor|
|2010||Steve||Jones||ABC News Radio|
|2010||Lisa||Kresl||The Dallas Morning News|
|2010||Susan||Neisloss||Big Bite, Inc.|
|2010||Jennifer||Preston||John S. and James L. Knight Foundation|
|2010||Lynda||Sachs||The New York Times|
|2010||Ernest||Sotomayor||Columbia Journalism School|
|2009||Linda||Austin||APME's NewsTrain and Fullbright Scholar|
|2009||Alfredo||Carbajal||The Dallas Morning News|
|2009||John||DeAugustine||The Daily Gazette|
|2009||David||Kellogg||Columbia Journalism School|
|2009||Jason||Kissell||The Boston Globe|
|2009||Shawna||Leigh Richer||The Globe and Mail|
|2009||Jean||Nadeau||Brunswick News, Inc.|
|2009||Shazna||Nessa||John S. and James L. Knight Foundation|
|2009||Raymond||Pearce||The New York Times|
|2009||Jonathan||Wells||The Christian Science Monitor|
|2008||Kenn||Altine||Southern Oregon Humane Society|
|2008||Jane||Folpe||Ropes and Gray LLP|
|2008||Dennis||Giza||Columbia Journalism Review|
|2008||Gene||Haddock, Jr.||The Houston Chronicle|
|2008||Mike||Hoyt||The Big Round Table|
|2008||Nels||Jensen||San Diego Business Journal|
|2008||Joseph||Kolb||Western New Mexico University|
|2008||Eliot||Pierce||The New Republic|
|2008||Jason||Samuels||New York University|
|2008||Michael||Stoll||San Francisco Public Press|
|2008||John||Yemma||The Christian Science Monitor|
|2007||Aaron||Barlow||NYC College of Technology|
|2007||Randolph||Brandt||The Journal Times|
|2007||Thomas||Heslin||The Providence Journal|
|2007||Chopeta||Lyons||Chopeta Lyons Consulting|
|2007||Daniele||Manca||Corriere della Sera|
|2007||Jeffrey||Price||PGA of America|
|2007||Sergio||Salinas||El Paso Times|
|2007||Stephen||Weis||The Houston Chronicle|