Young journalists from developing countries will be offered a chance to work for five months in American newsrooms as part of a new, privately funded program designed to foster greater understanding of, and support for, freedom of the press in the Third World, according to the program's sponsors.

Alfred Friendly, a former managing editor of The Washington Post, said his family fund will endow 10 fellowships a year, to be administered by the Institute of International Education.

"By being exposed to an American newspaper, the foreign journalists will see that, for all its faults, the American press is doing what the founding fathers intended: acting as a watchdog on all levels of government and serving never the government but always society," Friendly said.

Applications for the initial fellowships are to be distributed in December, and the first group of fellows is to gather in Washington next June for a two-week orientation before each is assigned to a host newspaper, magazine or broadcast organization.

Participating news organizations include The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Baltimore Sun, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Detroit Free Press, the Gannett Newspapers, the Riverside (Calif.) Press-Enterprise and the Watertown (N.Y.) Daily Times.