Nieman News

2021 Visting Nieman Fellows

Nieman Foundation's 2021 Visiting Nieman Fellows: (top row) Tamara Best, Janet Alvarez, S. Mitra Kalita, Jonathan Rabb, (middle row) Bethany Mollenkof, Alice Goldfarb, Kyle Edwards, Anjuli Sastry, (bottom row) Aaron Eaton, Jasmine Brown, Sarah Glover and Valeria Fernández

In response to dual crises facing the nation—a pandemic and racial injustice—the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard has selected 12 innovative media professionals for focused project work as 2021 Nieman Visiting Fellows. The fellows, who represent a broad range of communities and media outlets, will each spend time in the coming year working remotely, using resources at Nieman and Harvard University to develop projects advancing racial justice or improving public health journalism in the U.S.

Each fellow is working on a proposal featuring one or more of the following goals:

  • Advance the representation of journalists of color throughout the news industry
  • Improve coverage of underreported stories and communities
  • Explain the impact of the coronavirus on an area or group
  • Enhance reporting expertise and coverage of public health in a community

Announcing the new fellows, Nieman Foundation curator Ann Marie Lipinski said: “This past year journalism has faced urgent challenges but also explored opportunities for change. Nieman sought individuals with ideas for using journalism to address public health and racial justice inequities. These new visiting fellows seek to make real contributions to their communities and we’re excited to work with them to advance their projects.”

The 2021 Visiting Nieman Fellows and their study plans:

Janet Alvarez

Janet Alvarez, deputy business editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer and a television contributor for CNBC and Telemundo, will develop widespread COVID-19 vaccination education initiatives to inform people of color when vaccines are distributed. The goal is to assist vulnerable populations, especially the undocumented, who may be reluctant or find it difficult to be vaccinated.

Tamara Best

Tamara Best, a member of the news team at Facebook, will research how a centralized hub within a social media platform can be utilized to amplify the stories of an underrepresented community and create avenues for civic engagement to advance racial justice.

Jasmine Brown

Jasmine Brown, a senior producer in the race and culture unit at ABC News’ “World News Tonight with David Muir,” will work to expand and amplify the voices of people of color in U.S. newsrooms by developing two crowd-sourced databases for Diversifying Journalism. Brown created the project together with her 2020 Nieman Fellow colleagues Ana Campoy, deputy economics editor at Quartz, and Selymar Colón, president and editor-in-chief of Frame ONE Strategies and former news executive at Univision News. Their first database will include experts on a variety of topics that will help reporters on deadline quickly find diverse sources. The second is a directory of newsroom staff that can be shared with hiring managers.
@JasmineLBrown (with partners @ana_campoy_ and @SelyColon)

Aaron Eaton

Aaron Eaton, a digital coordinator and video producer at The Philadelphia Tribune, will study and report on the impact that virtual learning has on low-income students with limited or no access to resources in the School District of Philadelphia.

Kyle Edwards

Kyle Edwards, managing editor for Native News Online, will examine, catalog and memorialize the loss of Indigenous elders, knowledge and culture during the COVID-19 pandemic by creating a website devoted to sharing oral histories and interviews with families affected by the disease. This will inform a podcast series focused on individual stories of Indigenous resilience in the face of the COVID-19 surge.

Valeria Fernandez

Valeria Fernández, an independent investigative journalist, will work with journalist Maritza L. Félix to co-create a Spanish-language podcast and outreach project (“Comadres al Aire”/“Comadres on the Air”) that will address women’s health issues (including those of queer, trans and non-binary people) in Latinx immigrant communities in the U.S. The initiative will tackle the health inequalities that have become increasingly evident during the COVID-19 pandemic and will reach those who don’t have internet access or can’t read.

Sarah Glover

Sarah Glover, manager of social media strategy for NBC Owned Television Stations, will create SPARK, an open-source project that will develop actionable diversity, equity and inclusion proposals for the journalism industry. She plans to publish a series of articles to provide news leaders with business strategies that focus on dismantling bias and promote inclusive news content. She additionally will present workforce solutions and training initiatives.

Alice Goldfarb

Alice Goldfarb, who leads the COVID Racial Data Tracker for The COVID Tracking Project at The Atlantic, will research and develop guidance for analyzing and reporting on demographic data about public health, with a focus on COVID-19 race and ethnicity data.

S. Mitra Kalita

S. Mitra Kalita, founder and publisher of several niche newsletters, including Epicenter-NYC, which was created to help New Yorkers get through the COVID-19 pandemic, will work with Black and Brown community media to create a content-sharing and revenue-generating network. The initiative will help journalists of color work together to amplify their stories, both via each other and social platforms, and syndicate them to mainstream media outlets.

Bethany Mollenkof

Bethany Mollenkof, a photographer and filmmaker, will create a photo series documenting the toll COVID-19 is taking on Black life in the rural South, where Black people are contracting the virus at a higher rate and dying from it more often than others elsewhere. The work will examine how the coronavirus is affecting people’s mental health and fundamentally changing communities.
@FancyBethany (Instagram)

Jonathan Rabb

Jonathan Rabb, CEO/founder of Watch The Yard, a digital platform for Black college students and alumni, will examine the ways in which minority-owned news outlets are affected by loss of ad revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He will explore new revenue models that these platforms can implement to continue essential journalism by, about and for underrepresented communities.

Anjuli Sastry

Anjuli Sastry, an audio producer for the NPR podcast and national radio show “It’s Been a Minute with Sam Sanders,” will craft a two-pronged approach to increase diversity within public radio. On air, she will launch a new audio project to elevate voices of color across NPR radio shows, podcasts and visual platforms. Behind the scenes, Sastry will create a model for mentorship programs that foster retention and support employees of color throughout public radio.

Nieman is offering these visiting fellowships in addition to our traditional academic-year fellowships. The current 2020-21 Nieman class includes 16 journalists whose studies began in August.

Nieman created the visiting fellowship program in 2012 to invite individuals with promising journalism research proposals to take advantage of the many resources at Harvard University and the Nieman Foundation. In 2015, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation provided a five-year $223,000 grant to support the Knight Visiting Nieman Fellowships. In 2020, recognizing the dual challenges of racial injustice in the United States and the global coronavirus pandemic, Nieman solicited applications from individuals seeking to address those pressing issues.

Those eligible to apply for Nieman Visiting Fellowships include publishers, programmers, designers, media analysts, academics, journalists and others interested in enhancing quality, building new business models or designing programs to improve journalism.

The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard educates leaders in journalism and elevates the standards of the profession through special programs that convene scholars and experts in all fields. More than 1,600 journalists from 99 countries have been awarded Nieman Fellowships since 1938. The foundation’s other initiatives include Nieman Reports, a website and print magazine that covers thought leadership in journalism; Nieman Lab, a website that reports on the future of news, innovation and best practices in the digital media age; and Nieman Storyboard, a website that showcases exceptional narrative journalism and explores the future of nonfiction storytelling.