The Los Angeles Times is seeking high-potential, highly motivated aspiring journalists with diverse backgrounds or life experiences. The program’s main thrust is to provide participants - recent college graduates or journalists with limited professional experience - the training and support necessary to put them on a fast track to success.
Metpro is not an internship but a formal fellowship customized to help trainees realize their goals. The paid, full-time program lasts up to two years and is included in the Los Angeles Times Guild. We accept applications from those eligible to work in the U.S. with up to three years of experience in a professional newsroom or up to five years in media settings such as weeklies and community newsrooms, websites, fellowships or freelance work.
If you are curious, creative and motivated, if you want to watch history as it unfolds and have a strong desire to be a part of a newsroom, then come join the Metpro graduates who have found success. (For a glimpse at its past, we've uploaded the recruiting video from 1997.)
The pandemic postponed the selection of a class for 2020, so that process has picked up again for 2021. New applicants will be required to fill out an online form, complete a writing test and get evaluations from three references. The Times welcomes applications from aspiring reporters, multiplatform copy editors, audience engagement editors, digital producers, designers, visual journalists, podcast producers and data and graphics journalists.
Who is eligible to apply for the Metpro training program?
The program is aimed at aspiring journalists from diverse backgrounds and life experiences. Applicants must be recent college graduates with up to three years of experience in a professional newsroom or up to five years in media settings such as weeklies and community newsrooms, websites, fellowships or freelance work. There is no age limit.
How long is the program?
Metpro trainees are trained by and work alongside Times journalists for one year. Evaluations will be performed at the six-month mark and again a year into the program, at which point the trainee’s time in the program will either come to an end or they will be extended an additional year, depending on work performance.
When will The Times open applications for Metpro?
The applications opened Nov. 1. The full application, including completed evaluation forms, is due by Feb. 15, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. PT. This is a hard cut-off.
How do I ensure my evaluation forms are submitted on time?
Applicants can obtain the evaluation form in two ways: (1) They can wait for The Times to email it AFTER the applicant submits their application. It might be best to submit your application by Jan. 31, 2021, or earlier to give your references at least two weeks to complete the form. Or (2) applicants can download the form and send it to their references. If you chose this method, ask your references to fill out the form and hold onto it until you submit your application. They can upload it to the link provided in The Times’ email that will arrive only after you turn in your application. The evaluations must be in by Feb. 15, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. PT. This is a hard cut-off. Do not email evaluation forms directly to the Los Angeles Times.
Are Metpro trainees paid and eligible for benefits?
Trainees are represented by the Los Angeles Times Guild and receive an annual salary of about $50,000 with incremental raises. They also qualify for benefits, including vacation, sick pay, health insurance and a 401(k) plan.
Does The Times provide housing for the fellows?
No. Metpro trainees are responsible for their own housing.
How many are selected each year?
The Times typically selects six to 10 trainees each year.
Who chooses the Metpro trainees?
Top editors, former Metpros, reporters and staffers in specialized departments work together to select the class.
How will the 2021 class be selected?
The Times did not accept a Metpro class in 2020 due to the pandemic. Those who applied for the 2020 cohort will have their applications carried over and considered for the 2021 class.
The two batches of applications, 2020 and 2021, initially will be judged separately. A committee will choose the top 10 applicants from each batch to form a top 20. Those applicants will then be narrowed down to finalists who will be interviewed by phone or Zoom.
Do the fellows have a chance to get hired into staff positions?
Metpro is a training program and there is no guarantee of a job upon graduation. But in the past, we have offered jobs to some trainees.
How is the program structured?
The program will begin with a six-week “classroom” portion in which Metpro trainees learn about Los Angeles and develop storytelling skills. They will participate in drills and hear from a variety of guest speakers, from inside and outside the paper. Topics will include but not be limited to: legal issues, covering cops and courts, Times standards and practices, public records, writing, generating story ideas and navigating the newsroom. During the rest of the first year most trainees will rotate to different departments or news desks. (It’s common for video, photo, data and graphic fellows to remain in their same department the entire program.) For most reporting trainees, there will be three rotations of about 10 weeks each. If the trainee successfully completes the first year and is extended another year, that person can continue rotating or stay in one department.
What kind of experience should Metpro trainees expect?
Trainees will receive assignments but also are expected to pitch ideas. Reporting trainees will rotate to different news desks, working with their editors to come up with story ideas and map out plans to execute them. They will receive regular feedback. Those with our Data and Graphics department will work on projects with that team and other newsroom staffers. Photo and video trainees will have assignments in the field on their own and alongside our visual journalists. The multiplatform editing trainees will likely work on both our news and features copy desks. Our design trainee also will likely get experience in news and features. Our digital/engagement trainee works with either our News Desk team, which manages the home page, or with our audience engagement team.
When will finalists be notified?
When will the program start?
What offices do the fellows work in?
The trainees work out of our office in El Segundo. A few may work at our bureaus in Washington and Sacramento.
How will the pandemic affect the Metpro program?
The staff of the Los Angeles Times is currently working remotely. For the coming Metpro class, we will require trainees to move to Los Angeles but we will continue to follow federal and local health guidelines regarding working in the office. A moving stipend will be provided to fellows who are moving from more than 90 miles.
It will be determined at a later date whether trainees placed in bureaus will participate in the six weeks of classroom training virtually from the bureaus or whether they will be required to do so in Los Angeles.
How do I make my application stand out?
There is no one thing that makes an application stand out. In general, The Times looks at experience, skill set and the work samples themselves when selecting a class. The more successful reporting applicants had clips that show their range in breaking news, features, enterprise, game stories, explanatory reporting, narrative, etc. Experience is valued. If you have a particular interest or niche such as sports or entertainment, please make that clear in your cover letter.
For visual journalism and design fellows, The Times is also looking for variety in your portfolio. We don’t expect our Data and Graphics fellows to walk in the door with knowledge of every programming language, but strong applicants will demonstrate having used computers to be creative and meet deadline. And our digital/engagement fellows should have an understanding of metrics, various social media and other platforms, online publishing and an eagerness to learn more.
Do all applicants need to complete the reporting test?
We ask that every candidate complete the same application. Those who are applying for positions that do not require writing won’t be held to as high a standard as the reporting applicants.
May applicants include work samples with multiple bylines?
Yes, but applicants should include a note explaining what their role was in the story or project.
Do trainees need a car?
Applicants must have a valid driver’s license and access to a car in good working condition.
Do you have to be a U.S. citizen to apply?
These are paid fellowships, so applicants must be eligible to work in the United States. Many can secure an OPT visa upon graduation. It is up to the selected intern to supply this documentation.