Class of 2013
The 75th class of Nieman Fellows includes 24 journalists from the United States and abroad who work around the world and across all media platforms – in print, radio, television and online as reporters, editors, photojournalists, anchors and columnists. A number of them are journalism entrepreneurs and innovators who are discovering new ways to communicate in the digital age. They cover many of the most compelling stories of our time, topics ranging from natural disasters, terrorism and crime to the environment and science to immigration, military affairs and the arts.
David Abel is a staff writer who covers the environment for The Boston Globe, where he has worked for more than a decade. Through the years, he has reported from Latin America, covering everything from dissident movements in Cuba to the rise of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela; written about national security policy in Washington, including a stint covering the war over Kosovo in the former Yugoslavia; and he has explored a range of other subjects throughout New England, such as the politics of academia, the persistence of poverty and the effects of climate change. Abel also teaches travel writing. At Harvard, he plans to study the evolution of new media, the impact of rising income inequality on the social fabric, and the science as well as the potential effects of climate change.
Laura Norton Amico is founder and editor of Homicide Watch, a Washington, D.C.-based website for data-driven coverage of violent crime that was recognized as a notable entry in the 2011 Knight-Batten Awards for Innovation in Journalism. She has reported for the Register-Pajaronian and The Press Democrat in California, received a New York Times Chairman’s Award, and held fellowships with the Online News Association and the Harry Frank Guggenheim Symposium on Crime in America. Amico is a board member of Criminal Justice Journalists and writes for The Crime Report and One Reporter’s Notebook. She is a 2013 Nieman-Berkman Fellow in Journalism Innovation and plans to study criminal justice journalism in the digital age, focusing on best practices, useful tools and new models for crime and courts reporting.
Brett Anderson is the restaurant critic and a features writer for The Times-Picayune in New Orleans. His writing has appeared in a variety of national publications, including Gourmet, The Washington Post, Food & Wine, Salon and Oxford American and has been anthologized in eight editions of “Best Food Writing.” He has won two James Beard Foundation Awards and additionally was part of a team awarded the 2010 Scripps Howard Foundation’s Edward J. Meeman Award for Environmental Reporting for coverage of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Anderson also provided extensive coverage of the impact of Hurricane Katrina on food businesses in New Orleans. During his fellowship, Anderson will study the forces and people fueling the modern American food culture and their impact on the way Americans eat. He will also examine the role food and restaurants play in communities during crisis.
Chris Arnold is a Boston-based NPR correspondent who covers the economy and the housing market. He joined NPR in 1996 and has reported on subjects ranging from Katrina recovery in New Orleans to immigrant workers in the fishing industry to new table saws that prevent injuries. In 2001, following the Sept. 11 attacks, Arnold contributed to the NPR coverage in New York that won Overseas Press Club and George Foster Peabody Awards. He also earned a 2011 Edward R. Murrow Award for his series “The Foreclosure Nightmare” and the Newspaper Guild’s 2009 Heywood Broun Award for broadcast journalism. He is the 2013 Donald W. Reynolds Nieman Fellow in Business Journalism and will study the reshaping of the government’s role in housing after the collapse of the bubble and how the crash will shape the future of homeownership and the American Dream. He also will examine obstacles to technological innovation in consumer product safety.
Karim Ben Khelifa is a photojournalist and the co-founder and CEO of Emphas.is, a website designed to promote crowdfunded visual journalism. For the past 12 years, he has covered conflicts in the Middle East and Africa and other stories around the world. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair, Time, Le Monde and Stern. He has exhibited his photos on four continents and has won numerous photography awards including the 2004 Fujifilm Young Reporter Award. He also was selected for the 2000 World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass in the Netherlands. At Harvard, Ben Khelifa will conduct research on journalist-audience engagement, analyze the behavioral economics linked to crowdfunding and study new business models promoting the diversification of visual storytelling. He is the 2013 Carroll Binder Nieman Fellow. The Binder Fund honors 1916 Harvard graduate Carroll Binder, who expanded the Chicago Daily News Foreign Service, and his son, Carroll “Ted” Binder, a 1943 Harvard graduate.
Katrin Bennhold is a London-based staff writer for the International Herald Tribune, covering European politics and economics from London for the IHT and its parent newspaper, The New York Times. A native German who spent most of her career based in France, Bennhold’s reporting has covered events ranging from terrorist attacks in Madrid and Algiers to youth rioting in Paris to rogue trading at one of France’s biggest banks. She also writes a regular column on the economics of gender. Before joining the Tribune in 2004, Bennhold was an international economics writer for Bloomberg News. She holds a master’s degree from the London School of Economics. Bennhold plans to study the economics of gender and motherhood and explore the remaining barriers and costs of gender equality in the early 21st century. She is the William Montalbano Nieman Fellow. Montalbano was a 1970 Nieman Fellowand a prize-winning Los Angeles Times reporter who reported from 100 countries during his 38-year career.
Ludovic Blecher is executive director and editor-in-chief of Liberation.fr, where he has been in charge of the French newspaper’s digital strategy since 2008. He joined Libération in 2001 as a reporter and was later appointed editor-in-chief and oversaw the merger of the print and Web staff . His career took a new direction when he became executive director of online media, responsible for developing new forms of journalism and creating a new business model for news. In 2009, he succeeded in finding a new way to monetize high-value journalism with subscriptions. Blecher is a member of ePresse, a French media consortium. During his fellowship, he will study the business models of online media and explore ways to monetize high-value journalism. He is the Robert Waldo Ruhl Nieman Fellow. Ruhl, a 1903 Harvard graduate, was editor and publisher of the Medford Mail-Tribune in Oregon from 1911-1967.
Chong-ae Lee is senior reporter for Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS) in Korea, where she has worked since 1995. She was the first female investigative reporter for the program “News Pursuit” and has covered issues such as drug distribution, illegal abortion, the human rights of prostitutes and the physical abuse of combat policemen. Chong-ae has won 19 awards including Reporter of the Year from the Journalist Association of Korea and the Korean Broadcasting Grand Prize. She works on the Future and Vision Desk at SBS, which the annual Seoul Digital Forum, an international conference on digital innovation, and the Future Korea Report, which presents a strategic vision and plan for the future around a single issue each year. At Harvard, she will study journalism related to complex trauma, focusing on people who have experienced the effects of periods of colonialism, war and military-influenced dictatorial administrations followed by rapid economic growth. Her fellowship is sponsored by The Asia Foundation.
Jin Deng is a Beijing-based senior editor with Southern Weekly, one of the leading newspapers in China. For the past eight years, she has covered China’s economic policies and reforms at the regional and national levels as well as the country’s economic rise and its impact on the reshaping of the international financial order. Previously, she worked as a senior reporter for The Economic Observer and editorial director for Global Entrepreneur magazine. She is interested in recording events in China at the grassroots level, including the complexities of her rapidly changing country and the different ideologies that drive developments there. On campus, she will study how the democratization and fragmentation of information in the social media era will affect China’s journalism, society and politics. Her fellowship is supported through Sovereign Bank and the Marco Polo Program of Banco Santander.
Borja Echevarría de la Gándara is the deputy managing editor at El País, Spain’s largest daily. Since 2010, he has guided his newsroom toward a digital-first strategy, a move that allowed El País to become the most-visited Spanish-language news site. Previously, Echevarría founded Soitu.es, a news start-up that received numerous honors including two Online News Association awards. He began his newspaper career at El Mundo in 1995, reporting on science, social issues and sports prior to serving as sports editor and then international editor and deputy managing editor for online news. As a 2013 Nieman-Berkman Fellow in Journalism Innovation, Echevarría will study the structural evolution of newsrooms around the world and how disruptive innovation is altering traditional business and workflow models for news. Using data from both print and Web-based news organizations, he also will try to discern patterns in successful newsrooms and determine if the practices of digital start-ups can be applied effectively in established newsrooms.
Alexandra Garcia is a multimedia journalist for The Washington Post. She reports, shoots and edits video stories on topics ranging from health care and immigration to fashion and education. Awarded eight regional Emmy Awards, a national Edward R. Murrow Award and top honors in the National Press Photographers Association’s Best of Photojournalism contest, she also was named 2011 “Video Editor of the Year” by the White House News Photographers Association. She has been a teaching assistant at National Geographic Photo Camps in Chad and Botswana and a judge for the Best of Photojournalism contest. Garcia will study how news organizations can create visual experiences that engage users and will explore interactive storytelling forms.
Jeneen Interlandi is a New Jersey-based health and science journalist who writes about biomedical research, public health and environmental science. She has written for The New York Times Magazine and Scientific American. Previously, she spent four years as a staff writer at Newsweek. In 2009, she received a Kaiser Foundation Fellowship for global health reporting and traveled to Europe and Asia to cover outbreaks of extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis. She has worked as a research assistant at Harvard Medical School and studied climate change in Alaska. She holds master’s degrees in environmental science and journalism, both from Columbia University. At Harvard, Interlandi will study the history of pharmaceuticals, the cultural forces that have shaped our relationship to medication and the impact that has had on our perceptions of illness and health.
Blair Kamin has been the Chicago Tribune’s architecture critic since 1992. He also serves as a contributing editor of Architectural Record magazine. A graduate of Amherst College and the Yale School of Architecture, Kamin joined the Tribune as a reporter in 1987 after three years at The Des Moines Register. He is the author of two books published by the University of Chicago Press, “Why Architecture Matters: Lessons from Chicago” and “Terror and Wonder: Architecture in a Tumultuous Age.” Among his honors are the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism and the George Polk Award for Criticism. He is the 2013 Arts and Culture Nieman Fellow. During his fellowship, Kamin will study architecture, landscape architecture and urban design, seeking to re-examine and revitalize the field of architectural criticism in print and on the Web.
Yaakov Katz is the military reporter and defense analyst for The Jerusalem Post and the Israel correspondent for Jane’s Defence Weekly. He has covered Israeli military operations over the past decade including the pullout from the Gaza Strip in 2005, the Second Lebanon War in 2006 and Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in 2009. His writing focuses on defense planning, intelligence analysis and military technology. He co-authored “Israel vs. Iran: The Shadow War,” which was published in the United States in May 2012. Originally from Chicago, he moved to Israel in 1993 and has a law degree from Bar-Ilan University. Katz will study the use of censorship in the digital age to determine whether it is relevant and consistent with democratic values and if it can be applied differently, especially in coverage of Israel and the Middle East.
Jennifer B. McDonald is an editor at The New York Times Book Review, where she assigns reviews of fiction and nonfiction and occasionally writes. Her beats include linguistics, race, popular history, dance, science and technology, sex and gender, art and media, and graphic novels and reportage. Since 2008, she has been on the faculty of the Times’s Student Journalism Institute, an intensive training program for undergraduate and graduate-level journalists. She joined the Times as an editor on the national desk in 2005. She was previously an editor at The Washington Post and at CNET News.com in San Francisco. McDonald will study canonical works of literature and philosophy, and the historical role of the critic in culture.
Souad Mekhennet is a German reporter and columnist of Turkish and Moroccan descent who works for The New York Times, Der Spiegel and ZDF (German television). Since 9/11, she has covered conflicts and terrorist groups in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Mekhennet helped report the “Inside the Jihad” series for the Times and together with her colleague Don van Natta, broke the story of Khaled el-Masri, a German-Lebanese man who had been kidnapped and sent via extraordinary rendition to Afghanistan. She previously reported for The Washington Post and is the co-author of two books about Islam and terrorism, which were published in Germany. Mekhennet will study how the uprisings in Arab countries in 2011 have influenced the long-term strategies of terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda and how Shariah (Islamic law) deals with human rights, women and democracy. She is the 2013 Barry Bingham Jr. Nieman Fellow. Bingham, a 1956 Harvard graduate, was the editor and publisher of the Courier-Journal and Louisville Times.
Paula Molina is the anchor and editor of a prime-time program on Cooperativa, Chile’s leading radio news station. Since 1999, she has conducted daily interviews and has broadcast the news live, covering events such as the aftermath of the 2010 Chilean earthquake and tsunami, the miner’s rescue in the Atacama Desert and massive student protests in 2011. With 20 years of journalism experience, Molina has been part of both new and established projects in print, television and radio. Her radio program has received awards for its coverage of poverty, social exclusion and environmental issues. She holds a master’s degree in public policy. At Harvard, Molina will explore the opportunities created by the digital revolution for better development, sharing and distribution of broadcast news content.
Betsy O’Donovan is a freelance writer and editor based in Omaha, Neb., and Durham, N.C. In 2010, she became the first female editorial page editor for The (Durham) Herald-Sun and she serves as a mentor-editor for The Op-Ed Project, a nonprofit effort to increase the diversity of voices in public commentary. After graduating from Wake Forest University, she wrote and edited for newspapers in North Carolina, Idaho and Alabama, helped to create the first SportsCenter spin-off on ESPN, and launched a weekly newspaper in Waxhaw, N.C. She is the 2013 Donald W. Reynolds Nieman Fellow in Community Journalism. O’Donovan will study entrepreneurial models for community newsrooms, with a particular interest in establishing and protecting the value of original reporting.
Finbarr O’Reilly is a Reuters photographer based in Dakar, Senegal. He began his journalism career as a writer and has covered Africa for the past 10 years. He turned to photography in 2005 and received the World Press Photo of the Year Award in 2006. He has since won numerous top industry awards for his multimedia work and photography and his work has been exhibited internationally. O’Reilly has worked on long-term projects in Congo and Afghanistan and is among those profiled in the documentary film “Under Fire: Journalists in Combat,” which was shortlisted for a 2012 Academy Award. During his fellowship, O’Reilly will study psychology to better understand how the human mind and behavior is affected by personal experience, with a focus on trauma and conflict zones. He is the 2013 Ruth Cowan Nash Nieman Fellow. Nash was best known for her work as an Associated Press war correspondent during World War II.
Mary Beth Sheridan
Mary Beth Sheridan is an editor at The Washington Post, where she has covered homeland security, immigration and diplomacy. She arrived at the Post in 2001 after 11 years as a foreign correspondent based in Europe and Latin America for The Associated Press, The Miami Herald and the Los Angeles Times. She has reported from nearly 50 countries, including her assignments for the Post. She was awarded an Overseas Press Club Award for her work in Mexico and was part of the Washington Post team named as a Pulitzer Prize finalist for reporting on terrorism. Sheridan plans to study international politics and economics, with a focus on countries struggling to transition from authoritarian to democratic systems, particularly in Latin America.
Jane Spencer is international editor-at-large for Newsweek and The Daily Beast. She was one of the founding editors of The Daily Beast in 2008 and served as executive editor until she took a sabbatical early in 2012 to travel and write before beginning her Nieman Fellowship. Prior to launching The Daily Beast, Spencer was a correspondent for The Wall Street Journal in Hong Kong, covering environmental issues and technology in Asia. She was part of a team of reporters that won a Pulitzer Prize for international reporting in 2007 for coverage of China’s “Naked Capitalism” and the adverse consequences of the nation’s economic boom. Spencer will study new digital tools for narrative storytelling, with an emphasis on how emerging technologies can improve news coverage of global women’s issues.
Beauregard Tromp is a senior field producer for e-news Africa, a pan-African television news station. Previously, as Africa correspondent for Independent Newspapers, he wrote extensively on conflicts in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and the Niger Delta. He is co-author of “Hani: A Life Too Short,” a bestselling biography of liberation fighter Chris Hani, and has been recognized for his narrative on the outbreak of xenophobic violence in South Africa. He has thrice won the Mondi Shanduka Award for Newspapers and also received the Vodacom Journalist of the Year and the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist of the Year Awards. At Harvard, Tromp will study the practice of countries and global corporations purchasing large tracts of land in Africa to address future food shortages and the impact of that for trade agreements, governments and local communities concerned about possible exploitation under a “new colonialism.” His fellowship is supported by the Nieman Society of Southern Africa.
San Truong (aka Huy Duc) is a freelance journalist based in Ho Chi Minh City who covers Vietnamese politics. After serving eight years in the Vietnamese army as a senior lieutenant, fighting against the Chinese in 1979 and against the Khmer Rouge in the 1980s, he wrote for leading newspapers in Vietnam including Tuoi Tre and the Saigon Economic Times. As a journalist working in a state-controlled media system, his guiding principle has been to “push the line, but not cross the line,” attacking corruption and promoting political reform in his homeland. Until 2010, he published blogosin.org, which was ranked as the most popular blog in Vietnam. Truong will study public policy, American literature and the history of Vietnam with a goal of sharpening his work and impact as a political analyst. He is the 2013 Atsuko Chiba Nieman Fellow. The Chiba fellowship honors the memory of Atsuko Chiba, a 1968 Nieman Fellow.
Laura Wides-Muñoz is the Hispanic affairs writer for The Associated Press. Based in Miami, she covers U.S.-Cuba relations, immigration and Hispanics in American politics and pop culture. She has reported from Cuba and Guatemala, where she was a Fulbright Scholar and covered the end of Guatemala’s civil war. She has won The Associated Press Managing Editors Award for her beat and the Green Eyeshade Award for best political coverage in the southern United States. She also has written for The Miami Herald, U.S. News & World Report and the Los Angeles Times. She holds an environmental studies degree from Brown University. On campus, Wides-Muñoz will study the nexus between immigration and economics, examining how the global financial crisis affects the integration of immigrants into U.S. society. She also will explore multimedia platforms for presenting the data in new and dynamic ways. She is the Louis Stark Nieman Fellow. The fellowship honors the memory of the New York Times reporter who was a pioneer in the field of labor reporting.