Nieman Fellows & Contributors in the Field

  • Heart of Darkness
    Right about the time that my late husband was diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer, I started obsessing on vampire novels. There I was, sitting by my husband’s bedside, pondering mortality, and reading these novels—270 by the end. A couple of months into this, I started asking larger questions: Why have vampires had such traction in our culture? Why had Hollywood spent $7 billion over a couple of years on vampire films and television shows? My exploration resulted in my book: “Vampires Are Us: Understanding Our Love Affair with the Immortal Dark Side,” published by Weiser in February. June 12, 2014
  • From Chile, with Thanks
    My Nieman year gave me a strong sense of the truly globalized conversation in which we can all take part. When I returned to Chile, as the host of a radio program in Santiago and a correspondent for the BBC, I wanted to bridge divides, to turn radio stories into online narratives, and to turn local news into stories of universal interest. In The Herald in Glasgow, Scotland, I found a tale that connected Santiago to East Kilbride. June 11, 2014
  • Covering the Home Front
     started working in the media with the hope of bringing change. My main hope was to help my people understand their rights and obligations as citizens, to monitor the government’s performance, and hold accountable the wrongdoers. I’ve been trained in a newsroom with brilliant New York Times foreign correspondents, and I’ve had the Times’s support. Despite these privileges, I’ve often received serious threats from the Taliban, and a few times I have been subjected to interrogation and intimidation. June 10, 2014
  • Telling Malala's Story
    Five years ago when I interviewed a schoolmaster campaigning against Taliban who had taken over his remote mountain valley of Swat in northern Pakistan, I couldn’t imagine how it would change my life. He was the father of Malala Yousafzai, the girl who was shot by the Taliban for wanting to go to school, and so when they were looking for someone to help tell her story they contacted me. … February 6, 2014
  • Keeping the Faith
    The idea for New Canadian Media came to me at the 2009 Nieman Narrative Conference. During a workshop session I met an editor named Andrew Lam who, like me, is an immigrant—he’s from Vietnam, I’m from India—and almost everything he does relates to his diaspora experience. Andrew told me about his job at New America Media, which describes itself as the “largest national collaboration and advocate of 3,000 ethnic news organizations.” Although I didn’t realize this at the time, the idea of pursuing “immigrant journalism” in Canada had taken hold. … February 6, 2014
  • Make an Entrance
    I think I should just come right out and admit it: I’ve become obsessed with gates. I don’t dream of them, but I fixate on them. Even when the word “gate” isn’t in italics or boldface type, it jumps out as though it is. This obsession even intrudes at synagogue, where the world of work is supposed to be left at (ahem) the gates. “Open the gates for us, even now, even now, when the gates are closing,” goes the plaintive liturgy at the end of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. … February 6, 2014
  • A Project of Epic Proportions
    Marcelo Leite, NF ’98, was part of a team at the Brazilian daily Folha de S.Paulo that produced “The Battle of Belo Monte,” a multimedia examination of what will be the world’s third largest hydroelectric plant. The journalists spent three weeks in the Brazilian state where 25,000 workers are engaged in building a $13 billion dam. October 18, 2013
  • Digital Innovation with a French Twist
    Ludovic Blecher, NF '13, the former executive director and editor in chief of, is now director of Google's newly created Digital Innovation Press Fund for French media. The fund will award grants to news media embarking on innovations such as experimenting with storytelling techniques and revenue models. The 60 million euro ($81 million) fund is slated to distribute one third of the total sum during each of the next three years. October 16, 2013
  • From Critic to Crime Fiction
    Julia Keller, NF '98, is the author of "Bitter River," published by Macmillan in September. It is the second in a mystery series set in her home state of West Virginia. Keller, formerly a cultural critic at the Chicago Tribune, teaches at Ohio University. In "The Nieman Factor" in the Summer-Fall issue of Nieman Reports, she wrote about the first 75 years of the fellowship program. October 15, 2013
  • Truth or Consequences
    To many people, watchdog reporting is synonymous with investigative reporting, specifically, ferreting out secrets. But there’s another, maybe even more crucial form of watchdog reporting, especially in this age of relentless public relations and spin. It involves reporting what may well be in plain sight, contrasting that with what officials in government and other positions of power say, rebuffing and rebutting misinformation, and sometimes even taking a position on what the facts suggest is the right solution.

    Murrey Marder, the longtime Washington Post reporter who funded the Nieman Watchdog Project and who died in March at age 93, was the embodiment of that kind of watchdog. Most notably, when Senator Joseph R. McCarthy was ruining lives and careers through unfounded accusations of Communist infiltration in the early 1950s, Marder refused to operate as his megaphone and instead insisted that McCarthy substantiate his charges. Through meticulous, persistent newsgathering, Marder ultimately exposed McCarthy’s claims as lies and exaggerations.

    Later in his life, Marder advocated for a more assertive press, unafraid to ask unpopular and unconventional questions the public couldn’t or wouldn’t, and willing to fight deception and misinformation. Hedrick Smith, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and producer who worked alongside Marder during the Vietnam War, called him “the best of a generation of investigative reporters who did not think of themselves as investigative reporters, but they were, because they were constantly challenging the official policy and the official explanations of policy.”

    Read more … June 4, 2013
  • Journalism & the Boston Marathon Bombings

    Seth Mnookin. Photo by Jonathan Seitz
    "One of the things that's happening with Twitter is the whole process of what we do is being demystified. Now it's much easier to see that we don't have some secret journalistic mind control that allows us to get people to talk to us. We're just out there talking to people, or we're people who happen to be there at the right time. One way that we can increase our credibility as journalists is to become more transparent about how we're getting information."

    So said Seth Mnookin, co-director of MIT's Graduate Program in Science Writing, during a panel discussion called "Journalism & the Boston Marathon Bombings" hosted by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard on May 1. Mnookin was joined by Boston Globe reporter David Abel, Globe deputy managing editor for local news Jennifer Peter, WGBH radio host Callie Crossley, Washington Post director of digital content David Beard, and Boston Police public information officer Cheryl Fiandaca. James Geary, deputy curator of the Nieman Foundation, was the moderator.

    Read more … May 8, 2013
  • Niemans Cover the Boston Marathon Bombs
    The explosions at the Boston Marathon made front-page news around the world, with Líberation in Paris, El País in Madrid, and The Jerusalem Post in Israel carrying coverage from 2013 Nieman Fellows Ludovic Blecher, Borja Echevarria, and Yaakov Katz, respectively. Katz’s story was headlined, “Boston will keep on running.” Another Nieman Fellow from this year’s class, Mary Beth Sheridan interviewed witnesses and covered the aftermath for The Washington Post. Brent McDonald, a videographer for The New York Times and a 2013 Nieman affiliate, produced “Witness to Chaos at the Boston Marathon,” a video that included an interview with a runner and several bystanders. 

    Another 2013 fellow, Boston Globe reporter David Abel was on the scene at the Marathon when the explosions hit. His video of the immediate aftermath and his stories brought him calls from media around the world eager to interview him.

    Read about more reporting by Nieman Fellows … April 16, 2013
  • Critical Condition: Why Professional Criticism Matters
    The changing world of professional criticism is illustrated by the stories that bookend our cover package: Iconic rock critic Robert Christgau, in conversation with Times-Picayune restaurant critic and current Nieman Fellow Brett Anderson, started out in the 1960s—in print, of course—at The Village Voice but now writes primarily for two online outfits, the Barnes & Noble Review and MSN, while Maria Popova created a job for herself as founder and editor of the website Brain Pickings, where she mashes up aspects of criticism and curation. The complementary and sometimes combative roles of critic and curator are also the subject of the essay by Paola Antonelli, senior curator in MoMA's Department of Architecture and Design, who writes about the critical reception of the Museum of Modern Art's controversial recent acquisition of 14 video games. Julia Keller, a 1998 Nieman Fellow and 2005 Pulitzer winner for feature writing, addresses another creative nexus: her dual identity as novelist and book critic.

    Many blame crowdsourced review sites for crowding out the voices of professionals. But Kimberly D. Kleman, editor in chief of Consumer Reports, describes how she uses user reviews to extend and enhance her staff's rigorous reporting and testing. And our profile of Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic and current Nieman Fellow Blair Kamin explores how he schooled Harvard students in the critical thinking skills we all need, as consumers and as citizens. Finally, John Lahr, longtime drama critic for The New Yorker, makes a passionate argument for the critic as cultural caretaker. March 25, 2013
  • Homicide Watch Expands Coverage
    Homicide Watch D.C., founded in 2010 by Laura Amico, NF ’13, and her husband Chris to track every murder in the nation’s capital, is expanding. Two newspapers have agreed to pay for the right to use Homicide Watch’s platform, which includes a database system and integrated blog. In September, the Amicos partnered with The Trentonian to create a second site monitoring homicides in Trenton, New Jersey, and in January they finalized a deal with The Chicago Sun-Times to create a Chicago Homicide Watch site. That city recorded more than 500 murders in 2012. Under both agreements, the newspapers provide the reporting.

    The recent expansion is just one bright spot for Homicide Watch. The Amicos received the Knight Award for Public Service from the Online Journalism Association at its annual conference in September. “It was such an affirmation after working so hard to get the project recognized, and to have it recognized as journalism,” Laura said of the award. “Our mission was both journalistic and to benefit the community, so the Public Service award was a big affirmation.” January 17, 2013
  • ‘A New Way of Talking About Ideas’
    After a successful pilot run in 2012, NPR’s “TED Radio Hour” will debut as a weekly show in March. Guy Raz, NF ’08, has been named the host. The show will draw on the TED (“Technology, Entertainment, Design”) archives to bring ideas from the popular series of talks to public radio audiences. Raz, the former host of NPR’s “Weekend All Things Considered,” says that the show will create compelling audio and supplement the talks with interviews and other content to give it “the NPR touch.” “The idea is to create a new way of talking about ideas,” he added. “The hope is that every show will, in some way, change your way of looking at the world.” January 16, 2013
  • 2012 in 10 Images
    From the London Olympics and U.S. presidential election to ongoing crises in the Arab world and beyond, to natural and manmade disasters, this year was one marked by competition and tragedy. The Associated Press’s director of photography Santiago Lyon, NF ’04, saw it all in the more than one million photos sent out by the agency—roughly 3,000 a day. From that pool, he has selected the 10 AP photos that, he says, “represent the broader spectrum of human experiences” from a tumultuous year. Also represented is the increasingly viral nature of photography, thanks to one well-timed image of an animal rescue. December 20, 2012
  • Reclaiming the Story
    In April 1975, the North Vietnamese army overtook the South Vietnam capital of Saigon, ending the war that had split the nation in two. The months that followed saw more violence and unrest as Vietnam went through a long process of reunification and reconciliation. Many of the stories of that era remain unknown, even within the country, but they are now being told by Vietnamese journalist Huy Duc, NF ’13, in his new two-volume Vietnamese-language e-book, “Ben Thang Cuoc” (“The Winning Side”). Duc, a veteran of the Vietnamese army, told the Wall Street Journal that he wanted to provide “a true history of Vietnam written through the perspective of a professional journalist.” December 19, 2012
  • The True Story of a Lie
    It was the tail end of New York’s golden age of game shows, the last day of production on “To Tell the Truth,” and three young men were on stage saying “My name is Robert Leighton.” Per the rules of the game, two were imposters trying to fool the celebrity panel. And at the end, when the real Robert Leighton stood up, the imposters had pulled it off and won the cash prize. It was a minor act of deceit for future Reuters reporter Adam Tanner, NF ’12—then a 6-foot-2-inch 13-year-old imposter with a pencil-thin mustache. He revisits it in a recent Slate essay. November 6, 2012
  • Back Where He Belongs
    Midway through his Nieman Fellowship, Tyler Bridges, NF ’12, made a decision: He was going back to New Orleans. He had covered the city for seven years at The Times-Picayune, and written books about the political rise of Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and the gambling industry, but left in 1996. With the drastic cuts to his old paper, he has joined local non-profit The Lens as an investigative reporter focused on state-level policies that affect the city. “The Lens is a perfect fit,” he wrote in an introductory essay for the site. “I spent my year at Harvard studying how to cover politics and government in the digital age and now get to put what I learned into practice.” November 5, 2012
  • From a Memoir to ‘Fiction with Training Wheels'
    J.R. Moehringer, NF ’01, has published his first novel, “Sutton,” about the life and times of bank robber Willie Sutton. Moehringer, whose last book was “The Tender Bar,” a memoir, told Publishers Weekly, “A historical novel seemed a good gateway to fiction—fiction with training wheels.” October 16, 2012
  • Longtime Editor of Atlantic Monthly Dies
    Robert Manning, NF ’46, who was editor in chief of The Atlantic Monthly from 1966 to 1980, died of lymphoma on September 28th. He was 92.
    During his tenure the magazine, now called The Atlantic, grew in circulation from 200,000 subscribers to nearly 350,000. Manning also helped further the careers of some of the magazine’s best known writers, including James Fallows, Elizabeth Drew, and Tracy Kidder.
    Previously he worked at The Associated Press, United Press, Time and the New York Herald Tribune. October 16, 2012
  • South African Opposition Editor Dies
    Anti-apartheid activist and newspaper editor Zwelakhe Sisulu, NF ’85, died on October 4th. He was 61.
    Sisulu was founding editor of the New Nation newspaper and worked for several other outlets under the apartheid system, including the Sowetan and the Rand Daily Mail. He was jailed several times in the 1970s and ’80s for speaking out against black oppression, which led the 1987 class of Nieman Fellows to award him the Louis M. Lyons Award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism.
    In 1993, the African National Congress hired him to transform the South African Broadcasting Corporation from a tool of apartheid to a true public broadcaster. October 16, 2012
  • From One Photo, a Global Investigation
    In a Boston Sunday Globe front-page story, Jenifer McKim, NF ’08, follows a federal child pornography investigation that started with a single photo of an abused child. Dutch police were able to find the boy and his attacker after recognizing a popular stuffed rabbit in the photo. The arrest eventually led to a global crackdown on dozens of abusers and pornographers. As McKim said of the series in a video online, “What I got out of it was we can’t be afraid of everybody, but we need to be watchful, and we need to listen to our children and look for signs and be careful and do due diligence. That’s really part of this story, just telling people why it’s important.” July 30, 2012
  • Following a Legend
    Steve Oney, NF ’82, received a 2011 Peter Lisagor Award from the Chicago Headline Club for best sports story in a non-daily publication. “The Fighter,” published in Playboy, is about 50-year-old former NFL running back Herschel Walker’s improbable emergence in mixed martial arts, a sport dominated by athletes half his age. A frequent contributor to Playboy and The Wall Street Journal, Oney is working on a narrative history of NPR for Simon & Schuster. July 24, 2012
  • Signs of the Times
    The work of three Nieman Fellows has recently been featured in The New York Times. In the July 15 Sunday Magazine, Maggie Jones, NF ’12, wrote about the small town of Postville, Iowa, and its history as a convergence point for different ethnic groups, while Alissa Quart, NF ’10, wrote in the Sunday Review about the debate over breast-feeding in America. For the Times’s India Ink blog on July 22, Global Health fellow Sam Loewenberg, NF ’12, joined a group of researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health looking at life in a Mumbai slum through its toilets. July 23, 2012
  • Going Public
    In the Summer issue of Nieman Reports, Buffalo (N.Y.) News editor Margaret Sullivan writes about how she handled the aftermath of a controversial story in 2010. The experience may come in handy on September 1, when she begins her appointment as the fifth public editor of The New York Times. She will be the first woman to hold the position. July 22, 2012
  • Eyes on the South
    Photojournalist Kael Alford, NF ’09, has spent five years in Louisiana chronicling the lives of people on the Gulf, where erosion is slowly washing away both the land and the culture of the region. As she said, “Like the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans, what is being lost on the coast of Louisiana is more than a neighborhood or a storm buffer. It’s a piece of our collective memory and a unique piece of heritage that defines us as a nation.” Now Alford’s work is part of “Picturing the South,” a new exhibit commissioned by the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia and is featured in the book “Bottom of Da Boot” from Fall Line Press. July 10, 2012
  • Meldrum Heading Back to Africa
    Andrew Meldrum, NF ’08, will be returning to Africa in August. He has been named assistant Africa editor for The Associated Press and will be based at the organization’s regional headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa. Meldrum was based in Zimbabwe for 23 years, working for The Guardian, The Economist, and other outlets until he was arrested and expelled from the country in 2003. Meldrum had been the deputy managing editor of the news website GlobalPost since 2008. July 9, 2012
  • 75th Class of Nieman Fellows Announced
    The Nieman Foundation has announced the 24 journalists from the United States and abroad who will be members of the 75th class of Nieman Fellows during the 2012-2013 academic year. The group includes reporters, editors, broadcasters and photojournalists working across diverse media platforms. It will also feature the first two Nieman-Berkman Fellows in Journalism Innovation, a collaboration with the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard. May 4, 2012
  • Profiling the Biographer
    With the fourth volume of his multipart biography of Lyndon Johnson published on May 1, Robert Caro, NF ’66, is in the spotlight. Esquire’s Chris Jones has written a lengthy profile of Caro and Charles McGrath’s profile in The New York Times Magazine was a cover story in April. In that piece, Caro recounts a pivotal moment from his Nieman year. In a class on land use and urban planning, the discussion turned to statistics and the siting of highways. He recalled thinking: “This is completely wrong. This isn’t why highways get built. Highways get built because [New York City planner] Robert Moses wants them built there. If you don’t find out and explain to people where Robert Moses gets his power, then everything else you do is going to be dishonest.” “The Power Broker,” his book about Moses, won the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for Biography. May 3, 2012
  • Nieman Alumni Win Pulitzer Prizes
    Seattle Times reporter Ken Armstrong, NF ’01, and Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich, NF ’96, are 2012 Pulitzer Prize winners. After being selected as a finalist in 2011, Schmich won the prize for Best Commentary for “her wide range of down-to-earth columns that reflect the character and capture the culture of her famed city.” Her columns from the year covered a variety of subjects, from politics and crime to personal recollections and her impressions of a 26-foot-tall statue of Marilyn Monroe.
    Armstrong and fellow reporter Michael J. Berens were one of two winners of the Investigative Reporting prize for “Methadone and the Politics of Pain,” which also won the Selden Ring Award and an Investigative Reporters and Editors award. In the series, they showed how more than 2,000 people died by overdosing on the prescription pain medication methadone between 2003 and 2011. After the series ran, Washington State changed its policies on the drug. David Jackson, NF ’09, was part of the Chicago Tribune team that was named as a finalist in the Investigative Reporting category, for their series “Across the Border, Beyond the Law” which covered the legal loopholes that allow criminals to flee the country. April 17, 2012
  • Based on (a Novel About) a True Story
    Deadline,” a feature film written by Mark Ethridge, NF ’86, based on his 2006 novel “Grievances,” will be released in theaters on April 13. The story at the heart of the film and novel is a case Etheridge covered at The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer in 1970, when the murder of a black teenager in South Carolina went uninvestigated until a rich white Northerner brought it to the attention of the paper. As part of the promotion for the movie, Ethridge and the other filmmakers set out on a 45-city tour where they partnered with newspapers to put on screenings and donate the profits to local charitable organizations.
    “The movie has a very positive message about journalists and journalism,” Erthridge said. “I get these e-mails saying ‘Thank you for reminding me why I got into the business.’ After some pretty tough years, especially for daily newspapers, this is a very affirming message.” April 10, 2012
  • Turning from Newspapers to Public Radio
    After six months as executive-in-residence at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Journalism, Melanie Sill, NF ’94, has been named executive editor of KPCC Southern California Public Radio. She will oversee day-to-day newsgathering as the station aims to raise its profile as a leading news source in the region. “We're looking to build our own model, but we have a lot of other newsrooms that are working on the same problems, so there are lessons we might borrow from,” Sill told KPCC staffers at an introductory meeting. In December, Sill published a paper called “The Case for Open Journalism Now,” arguing that journalism should be reordered to focus on serving communities. March 28, 2012
  • Back to Her Roots
    After a year and a half covering the United Nations from New York for the Associated Press, Anita Snow, NF ’10, has returned to Latin America, where she started her career and spent a decade as the AP bureau chief in Havana, Cuba. She will be part of the editing team for the AP’s Latin America bureau, based in Mexico City.
    “Among the main stories on the immediate horizon,” she wrote in an e-mail to Nieman Reports, “are the Pope’s visit to Mexico and Cuba, the ongoing drug war and presidential elections in Mexico this summer, the state of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s health and its possible political impacts, ongoing post-quake reconstruction in Haiti, and economic reforms in Cuba.” March 20, 2012
  • The Shape of Energy to Come
    Margaret Kriz Hobson, NF ’04, has joined Environment & Energy Publishing as a reporter for EnergyWire, a new website that launched in March. It focuses on “unconventional fuels—meaning natural gas fracking, deep-water oil drilling, oil development in the Arctic waters, and oil from tar sands and tight formations,” Hobson wrote in an e-mail to Nieman Reports. “These are by far the nation’s most lucrative and the most controversial sources of energy for the future.”
    “With more news outlets in Washington focusing on breaking news and (for some) political gossip,” she continued, “I saw this as a rare and attractive opportunity to write comprehensive articles on some of the coolest energy and environmental issues I know.” March 20, 2012
  • Pushing Back Against Dangerous Drugs
    Methadone was Washington state’s drug of choice for Medicaid patients with chronic pain before Seattle Times reporters Ken Armstrong, NF ’01, and Michael J. Berens documented the drug’s death toll. After they revealed that more than 2,000 people had fatally overdosed on it since 2003, the state changed its policy. Now methadone is prescribed only as a last resort and with full disclosure of its dangers. The three-part series, “Methadone and the Politics of Pain,” has now been honored with the Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Journalism. February 28, 2012
  • Speaking Out on Sri Lanka
    The documentary “Silenced Voices—Tales of Sri Lankan Journalists in Exile” will premiere at the Movies That Matter Festival in The Hague this March. In it, journalists share stories of abuses by the Sri Lankan government. Among those interviewed is Sonali Samarasinghe Wickrematunge, NF ’10, whose husband Lasantha was murdered for his work. “As long as there is no genuine effort at reconciliation, accountability and justice in a country where one community has been hurt for so long,” Sonali said in an e-mail to Nieman Reports, “I do not believe the country can move forward. Today Sri Lanka is nothing but a whited sepulcher.” February 28, 2012
  • All in the Family
    In “My Nanking Home: 1918 – 1937,” Nancy Thomson Waller writes about growing up as the daughter of missionaries in China. “We were a family of five,” she writes, “plus Jimmy, the great surprise who came along in 1931.” Jimmy was the late James C. Thomson, Jr., who went on to lead the Nieman Foundation as curator from 1972 to 1984. While the memoir focuses on Nancy’s life, it also offers a window into the background of James, whose impact on the foundation included more fellowships for women, minorities, broadcast journalists, and reporters from smaller newspapers, as well as the move to its current home at Walter Lippmann House. February 17, 2012
  • Leading a Public TV Station in Bogotá
    Hollman Morris, NF ’11, is returning to Colombia to become director of Bogotá’s public television station, Canal Capital. Discussing his new job with the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, Morris said he wants to provide television that is “in the service of the people … that is popular and shows that television in Latin America isn’t only about distraction, but an instrument for development.” A documentary filmmaker and broadcast journalist, Morris last year wrote that “the desire to return—so common in those like me who have left Colombia because of persecution—stays with me.” February 8, 2012
  • Never Stop Digging
    Stanley Nelson has won the 2011 Tom and Pat Gish Award for courage, integrity and tenacity in rural journalism from the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky. Nelson, editor of the Concordia Sentinel in Ferriday, Louisiana, investigated the unsolved murder of Frank Morris, a black man who was killed in 1964 after the Ku Klux Klan burned down his business. His work implicated a new suspect though a grand jury has yet to return an indictment and earned him a finalist spot for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting. January 4, 2012
  • Blogging a Shifting Industry
    Micheline Maynard, senior editor of Changing Gears: Remaking the Manufacturing Belt, has added a blog to her portfolio. The former longtime business and Detroit correspondent for The New York Times is writing Voyages at She promises “useful information about cars, car shopping, the auto companies, and the people who run them.” She also plans to explore alternative modes of transportation. “I mean everything from car sharing and Zipcars to walking, mass transit, cycling, skateboarding (no kidding) and people who lease cars by the week,” she wrote in an e-mail. January 3, 2012
  • Shining Light on a Serious Issue
    Nieman Reports has often featured the work of MediaStorm and its founder Brian Storm. Now the online documentary production house has been honored with a 2012 Alfred I. DuPont Award for excellence in broadcast and digital journalism. “Undesired,” Walter Astrada’s “haunting multimedia report about India’s lethal social customs that devalue the lives of women and girls,” is MediaStorm’s second piece to receive the award, given by Columbia University. January 3, 2012
  • Words and Pictures From Two Seasoned Travelers
    David Lamb, NF ’81, a former foreign correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, recently wrote about a 23-day luxury tour around the world sponsored by National Geographic Expeditions. Each passenger paid $64,950 to travel on a private jet and stay in five-star hotels, but Lamb’s reward for giving talks about places they visited was a free trip and a paycheck. Nice work, if you can get it.
    Justin Mott had a selection of images from Myanmar published in The New York Times. The photos were taken on a visit he made in March, before the U.S. secretary of state visited Myanmar and the nation suddenly had a higher profile. In Nieman Reports, he wrote about moving to Vietnam to launch his freelance photography career. December 19, 2011
  • Niemans Give Back in the Classroom
    The Nieman year has always been about learning, but sometimes the fellows are teachers as well. Two members of the class of 2012, Pir Zubair Shah and Samuel Loewenberg, recently shared stories from their careers with students. For Shah, the venue was an expository writing class at Harvard, where he spoke about his upbringing in Pakistan and the danger that forced him to flee. Loewenberg, meanwhile, went back to University High School in Los Angeles, where he wrote his first articles as a student in 1988, to discuss his career with a journalism class. December 18, 2011
  • From Nairobi to Los Angeles
    Following the resignation of Russ Stanton, Davan Maharaj has been named editor in chief of the Los Angeles Times. He had been the paper’s managing editor for news since 2008 and is perhaps best known for “Living on Pennies,” the award-winning series he wrote while serving as Africa correspondent. In the Spring 2004 issue of Nieman Reports, he described the series as “an attempt to pull away the statistical curtain and reveal a close-up view of how these Africans go about their daily lives.” December 18, 2011
  • Gay Talese and Chris Jones Talk Style, Substance and Shirt Boards
    Esquire writer at large Chris Jones did 101 interviews over eight months and wrote the 17,000-word “The Things That Carried Him,” about a soldier killed in Iraq, without an outline. “At Esquire our goal is always to report the story so well we can sit down at a bar and I can just tell you the story,” Jones explained at a Nieman Foundation seminar moderated by Paige Williams, NF ’97.
    The following day, Jones sat down with Gay Talese for a public conversation as part of Harvard’s Writers at Work series. The legendary writer described his own style as “the art of hanging out.” Talese takes notes sparingly, on scraps of shirt board, and writes in longhand, then on typewriter from outlines that Jones said are “like maps to Narnia.” Their differing styles have produced masterful profiles, from Talese’s 1966 “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold” to Jones’s “Roger Ebert: The Essential Man” last year. December 8, 2011
  • Rethinking Famine Response
    As 13 million people in the Horn of Africa suffer through a famine caused by the worst drought in 60 years, Samuel Loewenberg, NF ’12, writes in The New York Times about the inefficiencies of foreign aid: Programs focus on reaction over prevention, money is diverted for political gain, and a crippled infrastructure leads to logistical nightmares. He also finds one effective program, a literal oasis in the desert, that offers another way. December 7, 2011
  • Bringing Spot.Us to the Public
    Public radio has always relied on the support of its listeners, but the acquisition of crowdfunding platform Spot.Us by American Public Media (APM) hints at a new direction. Spot.Us will be part of the Public Insight Network (co-founded by Michael Skoler, NF ’93), APM’s way of tapping into listener expertise, and could let listeners decide what kinds of stories they want to see funded. December 7, 2011
  • Vertical Stories—Told in a Documentary That Looks 3-D
    Filmmaker Katerina Cizek pushes “the boundaries of what's possible at the places where community and documentary intersect,” as she wrote in Nieman Reports of her digital Highrise project about “vertical living in global suburbs.” Of “One Millionth Tower,” the most recent documentary in this collaborative experiment, Wired magazine praised Cizek and her colleagues at the National Film Board of Canada by writing that they had “reinvented the documentary format.” With “One Millionth Tower” existing as a web documentary to enable virtual three-dimensional storytelling on a computer screen, to see it necessitates using Google Chrome or another up-to-date web browser. November 22, 2011
  • From Forests to Flying—Creating Short Documentaries
    For two months this summer Cara DeVito, NF ’98, went into a forest in Costa Rica to film a short documentary. Her film, “Cloudbridge Reserve: A Costa Rican Cloud Forest Saga,” is now used for educational outreach. In it, she shows how two North Americans restored a decimated cloud forest, where adults and children now learn why reforestation matters. In 1999 DeVito left her producing and editing job at NBC News to make independent documentaries, and she now directs “Films of You,” a documentary company. Topics of her films include the Tuskegee Airmen and the Bard College Conservatory of Music. November 22, 2011
  • Oops—I’m on Saturday Night Live
    When you are the journalist who asks GOP candidate Rick Perry the question that elicits his “oops” moment, can an “appearance” on Saturday Night Live (SNL) be far behind? No, as CNBC presidential debate moderator John Harwood, NF ’90, found out when last weekend’s SNL opened with Fred Armisen, who usually stands in for President Obama, playing Harwood instead. In his New York Times Caucus blog post, Harwood revealed how producer Sandy Cannold shouted into his earpiece, “DON’T STOP!” at the moment when Perry could not name the third government agency he’d shut down if elected President. November 15, 2011
  • Military Stories Rarely Told
    Linda Robinson, NF ’01, is an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, where she is working on her next book about special operations forces in Afghanistan. PublicAffairs is planning to publish it in spring 2013. After she reported extensively from numerous war zones for U.S. News & World Report, Robinson wrote two books, published by PublicAffairs, each one revolving around the U.S. military and each a bestseller: “Tell Me How This Ends: General David Petraeus and the Search for a Way Out of Iraq,” was also named one of The New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2008. Her 2004 book, “Masters of Chaos: The Secret History of the Special Forces,” provided a never-before-told story of these elite troops in action. November 14, 2011
  • The Inestimable Value of an Afghan Reporter
    Waheed Abdul Wafa, NF ’11, was The New York Times’s longest-serving reporter in Afghanistan. Now he has left journalism to become executive director of the Afghanistan Center at Kabul University. The Times’s “At War” blog describes the vital roles he’s played in the Kabul bureau—translator, fixer, security consultant, cultural interpreter, bookkeeper and reporter on more than 300 stories. With Carlotta Gall, NF ’12, he made public the torture of Afghans by Americans. For a multimedia story about Afghan widows, “he charmed Afghans into talking on camera,” writes Adam B. Ellick, a Kabul colleague whose farewell essay illuminates Waheed’s transition from a de-miner in the fall of 2001 to a journalist on the frontlines of his country’s war. November 8, 2011
  • Fighting Back—Against James O’Keefe
    As part of his “To Catch a Journalist” series, video provocateur James O’Keefe sent “Lucas,” posing as a prospective student, to meet with several journalism professors, including New York University’s Jay Rosen. Next to be targeted was Dale Maharidge, NF ’88 and author of “Someplace Like America.” What Maharidge said about his former student Sam Stein, a Huffington Post political reporter, was misconstrued in O’Keefe’s rendering, so he fought back; Maharidge describes his “counter-sting” in a Huffington Post story, “Bring It On, James O’Keefe.” November 7, 2011
  • Alma Guillermoprieto Returns to El Salvador
    “I’m back in El Salvador for the first time in 30 years, and I don’t recognize a thing,” writes Mexican journalist Alma Guillermoprieto, NF ’05, in her New York Review of Books article, “In the New Gangland of El Salvador.” In 1982 she was one of two reporters to break the story of the 1981 El Mozote massacre in which the Salvadoran army killed several hundred villagers. In its “Why Is This So Good” series, Nieman Storyboard recently featured her 1989 New Yorker essay, “Letter from Bogotá,” “marveling at the clarity of the choices made, the muscularity of the sentences.” October 31, 2011
  • Ellen Goodman: Speaking Out—When She Can
    In 1974, after her Nieman Fellowship ended, Ellen Goodman began her Pulitzer Prize-winning career as a columnist at The Boston Globe. Women writers were rarely found on the op-ed page, and soon her voice became an influential force in shaping public opinion on “women’s” issues such as family planning. In retirement, Goodman speaks out about these issues—when she can. In September, a Catholic college in Pennsylvania cancelled her lecture on civility due to her public support of abortion rights. In October, she urged women in Iowa to voice their support for contraceptive rights as some politicians push cutbacks in insurance coverage. October 31, 2011
  • Shifting Attitudes on Shark Fins
    This month California made the sale, trade and possession of shark fins illegal, the fourth state to ban what is considered a delicacy in many Asian cultures. In China, where the vast majority of the world’s fin is consumed, The Toronto Star’s Bill Schiller, NF ‘06, goes inside a shark butchery to see how a 15-year-old shark—weighing more than 300 pounds—is slaughtered and taken apart in just 40 minutes. He reports that the same concerns about cruelty and species endangerment that led to U.S. bans are being raised there and could lead to a changing tide of public opinion. In Nieman Reports, he wrote about the challenges—and importance—of reporting on-site in China. October 24, 2011
  • Never Too Old to Smash Stereotypes
    When Peggy Simpson, NF ’79, was a teenager, she’d listen to Pauline Frederick report from the United Nations and figured she could do that one day. It was the 1950’s. By the early 1960’s, reporting for The AP, Simpson knew firsthand what stood in the way of women doing as Frederick had done. She recently reflected on barriers that female reporters of her generation broke through. Now in her 70’s and freelancing, Simpson is “smashing stereotypes about old” as president of Dupont Circle Village, a collaborative network for “aging in place,” a movement she talked about on WAMU. Check out photos from the fundraising calendar the village members created and display on their Facebook page. October 24, 2011
  • That Girl Can Kick!
    Football fans in Pinckney, Michigan call the team’s place-kicker the Kicking Queen. At the homecoming game, Brianna Amat was crowned the school’s queen. Micheline Maynard, the senior editor of Changing Gears, told Amat’s story in The New York Times to epitomize the distance female athletes have traveled since Title IX in 1972 outlawed sex discrimination in education. Old enough to remember those days, Maynard writes “that Amat can join and play for a boys’ team without harassment or prejudice seems downright remarkable.” In Nieman Reports, a j-school professor and a beat reporter describe what it’s like today for female athletes and sportswriters. October 17, 2011
  • Reinventing Journalism—The Nonprofit Way
    For nearly 40 years Robert J. Rosenthal worked at newspapers, rising to high-level editorial positions in Philadelphia and San Francisco. When named executive director of the digital nonprofit Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) in January 2008, he recalls having “no idea what I was getting into.” Three years later, schooled in lessons learned from the center’s launch of California Watch, its statewide reporting effort, he has published a richly detailed four-part series, “Reinventing Journalism” to serve as a guide for those starting or overseeing similar projects. In the Fall issue of Nieman Reports, journalists with CIR’s Cold Case Reporting Project share their experiences. October 17, 2011
  • Passing the Torch From Nieman to Nieman
    After 26 years as the editor and publisher of The Namibian, Gwen Lister, NF ’96, stepped down at the end of September and handed the reins to Namibia’s only other Nieman Fellow, Tangeni Amupadhi, NF ’07, who was previously editor of Insight magazine. Lister described Amupadhi as being “imbued with new vision and ideas to take The Namibian to even greater heights.” Lister will remain involved with the paper she founded, focusing on new business developments and media. She wrote in Nieman Reports about how the pursuit of truth can be elusive in Africa. October 11, 2011
  • Let Us Count the Ways We Crowdsource
    It started with his Wired article “The Rise of Crowdsourcing.” Then came a book deal, followed by a Nieman Reports article, Nieman Fellowship, and a j-school professor’s job at Northeastern. Now, having joined the editorial team at, Jeff Howe, NF ’10, will follow the ever-growing industry of distributed labor that he helped to name. With the first of its kind 2011 Crowdsourcing Industry Survey, he will be part of a team collecting information about every company or institution using crowdsourcing or crowdfunding. October 11, 2011
  • Desperate Acts, Violent Endings: Starting a Conversation
    New Hampshire police officers have shot to death four mentally ill people this year. Did those encounters need to end with fatalities? Relatives of the victims say “no.” Concord (N.H.) Monitor reporter Annmarie Timmins, NF ’11, and a colleague investigated these deaths and looked at alternative crisis intervention models for their four-part series that describes what can happen when police respond to calls from family members seeking help in controlling volatile situations. Timmins said she was “struck that nobody in law enforcement or the mental health field was looking at these cases. We hope to start a public conversation with this series.” October 4, 2011
  • If You Build It, Hope Will Come
    To cope with a host of disappointments in his life, Lou Ureneck, NF ’95, decided to build a home in the Maine woods. Working with his brother, he found a sense of hope as the structure took shape. His memoir, “Cabin: Two Brothers, a Dream, and Five Acres in Maine,” published in September by Viking, encompasses his childhood—he grew up on the New Jersey shore where he trapped muskrats to earn money—as well as divorce, the death of his mother, a health scare, and his career as a journalist. A former newspaper editor, he now teaches journalism at Boston University. October 4, 2011
  • With Susan Orlean, It’s a Case of Puppy Love
    At its heart, Susan Orlean’s eighth book “Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend,” recently published by Simon & Schuster, is about “the enduring bond between humans and animals.” It’s a bond she knows intimately. When Orlean, NF ’04, recently moved to Los Angeles with her family, they had to decide which animals to bring. Their dog and two of three cats, yes; their cattle, no. The chickens, a favorite topic on her New Yorker blog Free Range, also stayed behind in upstate New York. One commenter pleaded: “Promise to visit the animals for reunion stories.” Orlean recently talked about her book and the orphan behind Rin Tin Tin with NPR’s Scott Simon. September 26, 2011
  • Revealing a Shameful Time for the Chilean Press
    After two years at Harvard, Alejandra Matus, NF ’10, rejoins her effort in Chile to raise awareness of human rights violations committed during Pinochet’s regime. After writing a book about these crimes, she now presents historical accounts and documentation at the end of each weekly episode of a TV mini-series called “Los Archivos del Cardenal” (“The Archives of the Cardinal”). Though fictionalized, the stories in the TV series are about what happened. Partnering with Ciper, an investigative journalism website, she produces a gallery of press reports that become “a silent witness of a shameful period for Chilean press.” She described the project in an interview (in Spanish). September 20, 2011
  • Ready For Her Close-Up—Pop Diva Andrea Simakis
    On Twitter she’s @PDPopDiva. At Cleveland’s Plain Dealer, she’s Pop Diva Andrea Simakis, NF ’09, inquiring about love at a local casting call for “The Bachelor” and “Bachelorette.” Just the other night the Pop Diva’s own TV moment arrived—from Stage 19, the Hollywood set of “Hot in Cleveland.” Her role: a barfly in the season two finale, when Betty White goes missing on her wedding day. Just her luck. September 2, 2011
  • Chris Hedges on the Demise of Reporting
    In his provocative Truthdig essay, “Gone With the Papers,” Chris Hedges, NF ’99, argues that as newsprint dies “newsgathering will not be replaced by the Internet.” With digital fragmentation, as people “pick and choose what facts or opinions suit their world and what do not … lies will become true,” he writes, in assessing the consequences for our democracy. In a recent public radio interview, Hedges, a former foreign correspondent with The New York Times, spoke about why the demise of reporting worries him. His new book, “The World as It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress,” is an anthology of his Truthdig essays. August 29, 2011
  • Global Investigative Reporting—As a Team
    Vlad Lavrov, an investigative reporter for the English-language Kyiv Post in Kiev, Ukraine, is one of 15 journalists joining the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ (ICIJ) roster of more than 100 reporters. Lavrov, who contributed to ICIJ’s report, “Tobacco Underground,” recently wrote for Nieman Reports about libel laws that hamper investigations by Ukrainian journalists. ICIJ member Fernando Rodrigues, NF ’08, described in Nieman Reports how he created a similar reporting project in Brazil. Also joining ICIJ are Carlos Eduardo Huertas, NF ’12, investigations editor at Revista Semana in Bogota, Colombia, and Giannina Segnini, NF ’02, investigative editor at La Nación in San José, Costa Rica. August 23, 2011
  • A Scandal by the Numbers
    Student cheating isn’t usually headline-grabbing news. But when teachers and schools are implicated in assisting students to record correct answers on crucial state tests, it rises to the level of a scandal. This is what happened when longtime education reporter Dale Mezzacappa, NF ’91, following a source’s lead, unearthed a voluminous data file compiled by Pennsylvania’s school officials and gave it to her colleague at The Notebook, a nonprofit news service with a tiny staff. A New York Times story describes what happened next. August 2, 2011
  • A Penetrating Look at Pakistan
    In her new book “Playing with Fire: Pakistan at War With Itself,” Washington Post foreign correspondent Pamela Constable examines Pakistan’s complex relationship with the Taliban while portraying “a society riven by inequality and corruption, and increasingly divided by competing versions of Islam.” On “PBS NewsHour,” she called Pakistan “a country with enormous potential that has been failed by its leaders, by its upper class, and in some cases by its own military institution.” In Nieman Reports, Constable, who has covered South Asia for the Post, wrote about her conversations with Afghan women. July 26, 2011
  • A Civil Discussion About the Internet
    The optimists won The Economist's online debate—held in proper Oxford Union style, naturally—on whether the Internet is helping the news industry. Speaking in favor of the Web was NYU professor Jay Rosen, who highlighted its democratizing power. Speaking against was Nicholas Carr, whose Atlantic cover story “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” practically launched a cottage industry of “Is the Internet … ?” questions. July 21, 2011
  • A 'Beacon' of Excellence
    Launched in 2008 with the mission of providing “news that matters,” the St. Louis Beacon has found success in the wide field of nonprofit online news. The site has produced civic-minded features on race and class in the St. Louis region, garnered praise and awards, and financed it all with a steady stream of grant funding. Recognizing these and other achievements, this week the Missouri School of Journalism bestowed one of journalism’s highest honors, the Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service to Journalism, on founding editor Margaret Wolf Freivogel. July 14, 2011
  • A New Platform and a Mea Culpa
    David Cay Johnston apologized to readers for misinterpreting the tax records of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation after Thomson Reuters retracted the first column in his new gig with the wire service. As the Pulitzer Prize winner mentioned in Nieman Reports and in his mea culpa, he often comments on flawed reporting he comes across. “Until now I have never made a big mistake, but this is a painful reminder that we all put our pants on one leg at a time,” he writes. [We featured Johnston’s column here, but took the item down after it was retracted. –Ed.] July 13, 2011
  • New Approaches to International News
    How do you get audiences far and wide interested in international news? Who is left to report as news outlets close foreign bureaus? What stories are being missed? On July 11, Harvard’s Berkman Center convened a panel to discuss these and other issues. Inspired by the work of the late Persephone Miel, “Cultivating New Voices, Approaches, and Audiences” featured Fatima Tlisova, NF '09, of Voice of America, Jon Sawyer of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, and Ethan Zuckerman of Global Voices Online, among others. The event was webcast live, and will soon be available on the Berkman Center website. (For more on foreign reporting, see Nieman Reports.) June 30, 2011
  • Media Watcher Looks to the Future
    Writing in Nieman Reports a decade ago, David Folkenflik, then media critic for The (Baltimore) Sun, urged news organizations to be more transparent. The New York Times is one that has moved in that direction, allowing the makers of the new documentary “Page One” to film inside the newsroom. Folkenflik, now a media reporter for NPR, is editor of “Page One: Inside The New York Times and the Future of Journalism,” being published by PublicAffairs to coincide with the film’s opening. Among the contributors are David Carr and Peter Osnos. June 20, 2011
  • Ethan Zuckerman—New Title, Same Direction
    Ethan Zuckerman has been named director of MIT’s Center for Civic Media. From Twitter activism in Azerbaijan to gay rights in Ghana, he analyzes a world of news—on his blog, in his tweets, at TED, and in Nieman Reports. He co-founded Global Voices Online as a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. No wonder Foreign Policy has placed him on its list of the top 100 tweeters, along with Rwandan president Paul Kagame and Saudi Arabia’s most prominent female blogger, Eman Al Nafjan. June 19, 2011
  • Photographer to Professor: Experience as Lessons
    When Jim MacMillan left a staff photography and video job at the Philadelphia Daily News, he set out to entrepreneurially market his visual reporting of news through social media. He then moved into the classroom to teach journalism students what he’d learned. This fall he will teach Peace and Conflict Reporting at Swarthmore College, where he has been advising the school’s War News Radio program as journalist in residence. MacMillan is likely to draw on his experiences as an Associated Press photographer in Baghdad from 2004-2005 to help his class examine “the theory and practice of peace journalism as an alternative to the conventions and biases of traditional war reporting.” June 13, 2011
  • High Praise for Hard-Nosed Reporting
    Mary Williams Walsh, NF ’99, a business reporter for The New York Times, has been digging into the issues surrounding pension shortfalls in places like Detroit and Wisconsin. She also has covered the government’s bailout of American International Group, especially as it now seeks to unload its shares of the insurance company. As testimony to the consistent high quality of the reporting she is doing on this ever-more essential beat, Walsh received the Nathaniel Nash Award, an annual internal Times honor for business and economic reporting. In his staff memo announcing the award, Executive Editor Bill Keller wrote: “Today she is recognized as perhaps the foremost journalist on pension issues in the country.” June 8, 2011
  • The Teacher Beat—Shedding Rhetoric, Delivering Information
    Can great teaching be taught? Finding answers to how it’s being done is the piece that WBUR correspondent Martha Bebinger, NF ’10, contributed to her Boston-based public radio station’s special series “Making an A+ Teacher.” At a time when standardized tests closely monitor student performance, pressure grows to use these test results as the key indicator of teacher effectiveness. This multimedia project includes a WBUR-hosted “meet up,” a data-driven statewide map, and social media interaction, as it goes deep and personal into contentious and complex issues about teaching. May 26, 2011
  • The Winning Ways of a ‘Swan Project’
    The plot is pure Hollywood: 10 teenage girls, “each struggling with something,” at a last-chance school get pulled into a class taught by their counselor (a part-time model, naturally) about how to be ladies. Lane DeGregory of The St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times documented the remarkable true-life transformations in the “Swan Project,” a story that has been honored by the Society for Features Journalism. In Nieman Reports, DeGregory offered 10 tips on finding local characters worthy of a story and described her collaboration with photojournalist Melissa Lyttle on a Pulitzer Prize-winning story about a feral child who was adopted into a loving home. May 24, 2011
  • Women Marines—Afghanistan Missions
    Monica Campbell, NF ’10, accompanied a small group of women Marines in Afghanistan for a report that aired on PRI’s “The World.” The Marines in the Female Engagement Team (FET) were able to do something that is difficult for their male counterparts—talk with Afghan women. Yet the FET runs into cultural differences when they try to open a school for girls. Campbell, who has reported extensively on the drug violence in Mexico, was in Afghanistan from January until early April. May 16, 2011
  • Envisioning ‘Digital Paper’—in 1994
    Roger Fidler was a visionary at a time when his idea of developing an interactive touch screen tablet was hard for anyone else to comprehend. A video from 1994 shows Roger and his colleagues at the Knight Ridder Information Design Lab demonstrating what the reading experience would be like on the lab’s prototype, based on the model he had developed in 1981. He created the word “mediamorphosis” to describe the digital transformation he foresaw. Roger, who now directs digital publishing at the Reynolds Journalism Institute, wrote in Nieman Reports about how old and young adapt to new technologies, including tablets. May 11, 2011
  • Shrinking Glaciers—Stories They Have to Tell
    Daniel Grossman reports on climate change. Here’s how he described his recent trip to Greenland. Now he is heading for Lima, Peru to tell stories about people trying to stop the shrinking of glaciers that feed the city its water. One person he’ll visit plans to keep mountaintops cool by painting them white, while a scientist will try to insulate glaciers with sawdust. In Nieman Reports, Dan joined other journalists in writing about what it’s like to be on the global warming beat. May 9, 2011
  • Tightening the Government’s Grip on Reporters in China
    During a time of intensified arrests of Chinese lawyers and artists and the imposition of tougher rules regulating journalists, Bill Schiller, NF ’06 and Asia bureau chief for The Toronto Star, found out what happens when reporters are detained. Police interrogated him for several hours after he photographed Chinese Christians trying to attend an outdoor church service in Beijing. His press card was seized and he was forced to delete his photos. At his editor’s request, he wrote a story describing “what police do here and what they ask you when they take you away.” In the Fall 2010 issue of Nieman Reports, he explained why in the digital age “being there” still matters in foreign reporting. May 2, 2011
  • Crowdfunding ‘Contravia’
    Colombian journalist Hollman Morris, NF ’11, is trying to make his investigative reporting program, “Contravia,” the first viewer-funded TV program in Latin America. He is asking his Twitter, Facebook and YouTube followers and the show’s viewers to donate funds to produce the show. So far, most contributions have been small. In the past, Morris depended on funding from international organizations and foreign governments. His fund-raising goal—what he needs to produce 26 episodes to air between July and December—is $190,000. April 25, 2011
  • Mashing Up Content to Tell Stories
    Baseball games, “American Idol,” popular uprisings, and presidential campaigns: Each generates a lot of heat on social networks. Now there is a way for anyone to aggregate various feeds. Storify, a Web tool that launched in public beta on Monday, enables users to curate tweets, posts, photos and videos to produce a streamlined story. The tool is already being used by news organizations, including Al-Jazeera’s new online talk show, “The Stream.” Storify was co-founded by former Associated Press reporter Burt Herman who wrote in Nieman Reports about bringing journalists and technologists together. April 24, 2011
  • Never Finding Time to Sleep—in Hong Kong
    When Rose Luqiu Luwei, NF ’07, isn’t doing her fulltime job as executive news editor for Hong Kong's Phoenix Satellite Television, she wrote a book, “Prejudice Without Borders,” (all links are in Chinese) about the need to overcome bias through reporting, promotes citizen journalism via a blogging platform, teaches international news at Hong Kong’s Baptist University, and recently established a foundation, “my1510 foundation” which produces a website, weekly e-magazine, and a monthly seminar “Co-China,” broadcast online to mainland China, on topics ranging from Libya and Egypt to social media in China and migrants in Hong Kong. April 22, 2011
  • In Japan—Radiation Detector in Hand
    Just how much radiation is there 20 kilometers from a damaged nuclear reactor? In nearby villages? On an airplane? Richard Read, NF ’97, wanted answers when he went to Japan to report for The Oregonian. So he carried a dosimeter—receiving it by overnight mail just hours before his flight—to gauge radiation levels. In Nieman Reports, he wrote about covering the aftermath of the 2005 tsunami in Sri Lanka; in a story and video, he describes what he found in Japan. April 13, 2011
  • A Story Rich Americans Don’t Want You to Read
    David Cay Johnston, a former New York Times reporter who won a Pulitzer Prize in 2001 for his exposé of tax loopholes, is touching raw nerves as the tax filing deadline approaches. This time it’s with “9 Things The Rich Don’t Want You To Know About Taxes” appearing in the Willamette Week and nearly 40 other alternative newspapers and loaded with charts with provocative headlines like “Working Stiffs Taxed Much More than Plutocrats.” In Nieman Reports, Johnston, a columnist for, explored journalism’s crumbling foundation. April 13, 2011
  • Scars Connect Storytelling With Community Building
    Scars tell stories, and WBUR health reporter Martha Bebinger, NF ’10, wants to hear them. That’s why she created a patient-driven, crowdsourced timeline on this NPR radio station’s website. There a visual display of scars draws the eye to the physical residue of a surgical encounter or accident. Beneath the scars reside stories, which is where she wants to go with her reporting. For patients, it isn’t about news but it is about sharing experiences and building community. April 5, 2011
  • Out of Tragedy, an Artist and a Book Arise
    Jon Sarkin’s story had so much drama that Amy Ellis Nutt, NF ’05, was immediately hooked. After suffering a major stroke, Sarkin, a quiet, sensible chiropractor turned into an artist with a compulsive need to create. Nutt’s first book “Shadows Bright as Glass: The Remarkable Story of One Man’s Journey from Brain Trauma to Artistic Triumph” is being published April 5th by Free Press. It has received starred reviews in Booklist and Kirkus Reviews; Sarkin and Nutt have a date with NPR’s “Fresh Air” on April 18 April 4, 2011
  • TV and Tweets—News In the Aftermath of the Quake
    Writing in The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, Philip J. Cunningham, NF ’98, who once worked for Japan’s biggest TV station NHK, describes—and shows—how Japan’s TV stations transformed themselves after the earth shook and the tsunami swept ashore. Cunningham also blogs a tweet diary of his former NHK colleague Steve Herman, who as Voice of America’s Asia correspondent reported from the three hardest hit areas. March 28, 2011
  • From Idea to Award Winner—The Road Traveled
    When the Center for Health Reporting began as a six-month pilot project in October 2008, Deborah Schoch, NF ’00, was there. “We worked from cheap hotel rooms, borrowed newsroom desks, and via wireless from Starbucks and McDonald’s all over California,” she says. Last week, this foundation-funded, university-based, statewide collaborative health reporting project—connecting legacy journalism with digital media—won a national health journalism national heath journalism award in the category of community newspaper reporting. March 28, 2011
  • Multimedia Storytelling Is a Winning Approach for Texas Editor
    During his Nieman year Chris Cobler, NF ’06, questioned why newspapers were slow to embrace the Internet. As editor of the Victoria Advocate in Texas, he is expanding its digital possibilities. Now the Inland Press Association has given its first-place award for creative use of multimedia storytelling to the paper’s six-part series and documentary, "A Father’s Strength," about a family’s battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease. March 24, 2011
  • Muslims in America: Creating a New Beat
    Andrea Elliott immersed herself in the life of Muslim cleric Yasir Qadhi to write this week’s New York Times Magazine cover story about the meaning jihad holds with young American Muslims. This same reporting approach was evident in her 2007 Pulitzer Prize-winning series "An Imam in America." In Nieman Reports, she explained why and how she, as "a non-Muslim American who did not speak Arabic," created this beat. March 22, 2011
  • What’s in a Name? Plenty on Facebook
    As a 2008 Nieman Fellow, he went by the name Michael Anti. It’s the pseudonym he has used for many years in China, on his blogs and for The New York Times. Earlier this year Facebook, citing its "real name policy," purged his account, thus dissolving valuable links Anti had established with contacts since 2007. Now the Committee to Protect Journalists writes about Anti’s case and the social media implications for reporters, like Anti, who work under government restraints on press freedom. March 22, 2011
  • Writing Wins Awards for Nieman Fellows
    Beatriz Terrazas, NF ’99, tells an intimate story about mother and daughter role reversal when Alzheimer’s arrives. Michael Fitzgerald, NF, ’11, immerses readers in the reinvention of the music business in the digital age. Now these journalists’ paths converge as their stories placed first in the first-person and business/technology categories, respectively, when the American Society of Journalists and Authors announced its writing awards on March 14th. March 18, 2011
  • The State Department Spokesman and the Prisoner in the Brig
    BBC World News anchor and correspondent Philippa Thomas (NF ’11) made news when she blogged and tweeted remarks made by State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley that led to his resignation. Speaking to a gathering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Crowley called the Pentagon’s treatment of Private Bradley Manning, being held on charges of leaking documents to WikiLeaks, "ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid." March 16, 2011
  • WikiLeaks and the Age of Transparency
    In his on-demand book "WikiLeaks and the Age of Transparency" Micah Sifry, editor of Personal Democracy Forum, contends that "unlike these other applications of technology to politics, this time the free flow of information is threatening the American establishment with difficult questions." In Nieman Reports, Sifry takes readers inside the "networked age" of politics. Also in Nieman Reports, Dan Gillmor and Fons Tuinstra write about digital publication of their books. March 14, 2011
  • The Feminists in the Middle of Tahrir Square
    Elizabeth Rubin, NF '05, writes for Newsweek about the intersection of gender issues and political revolution in Cairo's Tahrir Square. "In the euphoric, even utopian, atmosphere of Tahrir, everyone talked of the Egyptians’ psychological breakthrough. Walls of fear, class, and even gender were broken. There was no feminism or ideology. Women were simply demanding the same pragmatic constitutional changes that every Egyptian wants. Everything is up for debate, including the Islamic laws that remain within the Constitution. But the 'gender thing' cannot be so easily expunged in a culture where women have been, in many respects, second-class citizens, despite the crucial role they have always played in nurturing democracy and nationalism over the last century." March 7, 2011
  • The Battle Against Dementia: The Dark Descent of an Unlikely Victim
    Beth Macy, NF '10, portrays her former copy editor's journey through  dementia. Her story begins: "It's spring 2006, and a woman I vaguely  recognize approaches me at a party, her auburn wig askew and a glass of  wine wobbling in her hand. She announces cheerfully that, at 63, she has  recently retired from the Virginia newspaper where I still work. 'I  have dementia, in case you didn't know!'" March 4, 2011
  • Power Failures Thrust Deregulation Into Public Glare
    Writing on her energy beat, Kate Galbraith, NF '08, looks at what happens when fridgid weather causes Texas blackouts. In Nieman Reports, she describes what it's like to cover the environment and energy for the Texas Tribune. March 4, 2011