Helsingin Sanomat Foundation Journalism Fellowship at IPI

The Helsingin Sanomat Foundation Journalism Fellowship at IPI is a six-month program of practical work experience designed to expose an advanced journalism or communications student from Finland to the nature of modern threats to media freedom and to the sustainability of open societies by embedding them as an integral part of IPI’s Press Freedom team, based in Vienna, Austria. The programme has been in place since July 2017. 

The Fellows will typically have the following responsibilities:

  • Daily monitoring of news reports from around the world to identify developments potentially impacting press freedom and freedom of expression

  • Drafting brief reports of those developments for IPI staff and as posts on social media

  • Following up on developments by contacting journalists and others directly by telephone or email to gather further information

  • Writing news statements, press releases, feature articles, interview pieces, correspondence and other forms of journalistic coverage of press freedom violations globally, published on IPI’s website and other channels

  • Help organise and participate in press freedom visits and other press freedom activities

  • Other related activities, as necessary


The HS Foundation Fellowship at the IPI greatly enhanced my knowledge on the state of press freedom around the world. My work in monitoring attacks on journalists, interviewing media and getting acquainted with government censorship, disinformation and political abuse opened my eyes to these issues not only in autocratic regimes, but also in countries that pride themselves on having a free press. The fellowship left me a lasting interest in press freedom issues as well as a good knowledge of NGO work. It also enhanced my confidence in working in a truly international environment with extremely supportive and professional colleagues.

Henri Koponen, Staff journalist at business daily Kauppalehti

The Fellow will also accompany IPI staff on relevant press freedom visits and events around the world. As part of these visits, Fellows will, among other things:

  • Carry out on-the-ground journalistic coverage of press freedom issues

  • Join IPI meetings with journalists, government representatives, foreign diplomats, members of civil society and other stakeholders to discuss relevant issues and developments

  • Make detailed notes and/or other records in order to prepare materials about the visit for publication online

  • Assist with IPI press freedom events and provide coverage of them

My time with International Press Institute certainly helped me grow as a journalist. Coming from Finland, press freedom was something I sometimes took for granted. IPI knocked those rose-tinted glasses off my nose. I got to talk with brave journalists, who do their work despite the risks they face in oppressive states. I witnessed how innocent journalists were sentenced to jail in Turkey. I got to stand with Slovakia in mass protests after the brutal murder of journalist Ján Kuciak. The eye-opening fellowship programme also made me realize that without actively defending it, press freedom could be threatened even in countries like Finland.

Alma Onali, Estonia Correspondent for Helsingin Sanomat

The aim of the Fellowship programme is to expose future Finnish journalists to the different challenges facing their colleagues across the world and to broaden their perception of the role of journalism and media freedom across borders, including giving them access to a valuable and broad range of contacts of journalists and activists across the world through IPI’s wide network. Furthermore, the Fellows will be closely involved in the strategy discussions involving IPI’s events, including, whenever possible, the annual IPI World Congress, an event they will attend whenever it falls within their fellowship tenure, allowing them to gain access to editors, journalists, academics and activists from over 50 countries. 

IPI is extremely grateful for the generosity of the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation in making this fellowship possible.

The Helsingin Sanomat Foundation Journalism Fellowship with IPI offered me a unique opportunity to learn about a variety of press freedom issues around the world. I am especially thankful for the several press freedom missions I was able to take part in. The missions gave me hands-on experience of press freedom advocacy, and meeting local journalists helped me to understand the problems they face in their work. The fellowship has inspired me to continue working with press freedom issues in my work as a journalist.

Sanna Pekkonen, Staff journalist at business daily Kauppalehti


A call for applications is launched by the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation at the start of each year to select the Fellows for the two subsequent fellowship periods (July-December; January-June). Applicants are asked to send a cover letter, a CV and a letter of recommendation (in English) from someone who knows them in a professional or academic capacity and can testify to their suitability to the position. 

Shortlisted candidates are then invited for an online interview with staff at IPI. They will also be asked to submit a writing sample in English.

The Fellowship covers travel arrangements to Vienna and any work-related travel taken with IPI staff members. It also includes a stipend to cover living costs during the stay in Vienna. 

For a journalist, working at IPI is a great opportunity to see on the one hand, how non-governmental organizations are working and on the other hand how diverse press freedom challenges colleagues around the world are facing.  You also get to travel a lot, which gives you a better understanding about the specific media freedom conditions in different cultural and political contexts.

Matilda Jokinen, Freelance journalist for Kuntalehti and Suomen Kuvalehti

The Helsingin Sanomat Foundation is a private, non-profit organization. Its purpose is to promote and support high-level research and the implementation of freedom of speech. The Foundation carries out its mission by awarding grants and fellowships and by maintaining the Päivälehti Archives and the Päivälehti Museum. The Foundation spends approximately EUR 4 million annually on its non-profit activities. The Helsingin Sanomat Foundation was established in the year 2005.

For questions about the Fellowship please contact Helena Soares at Hsoares(at)ipi.media.