Speaker Bios

Joshua Benton is director of the Nieman Journalism Lab, which he founded in 2008. Before spending a year at Harvard as a Nieman Fellow, he spent 10 years in newspapers, most recently at The Dallas Morning News. His reports there on cheating on standardized tests in the Texas public schools led to the permanent shutdown of a school district and won the Philip Meyer Journalism Award from Investigative Reporters and Editors. He has reported from 10 foreign countries, been a Pew Fellow in International Journalism, and three times been a finalist for the Livingston Award for International Reporting. Before Dallas, he was a reporter and rock critic for The Toledo Blade. He’s a proud Cajun from small-town south Louisiana who wrote his first HTML in 1994.

Mariah Blake is a Washington, D.C.-based journalist who most recently worked as a senior reporter for Mother Jones, focusing on investigative and enterprising reporting. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, Columbia Journalism Review, The Nation, The New Republic, Foreign Policy, The Christian Science Monitor and The Washington Monthly, among other publications. She covers the nexus between policy and science and has written on a wide variety of topics ranging from the plastics industry’s embrace of tobacco-industry-style tactics to corruption in the medical supply industry and the rise of faith-based news organizations. Blake is a Murrey Marder Nieman Fellow in Watchdog Journalism. The fellowship honors the memory of Murrey Marder, a 1950 Nieman Fellow who helped found the Nieman Watchdog Project.

Christopher Borrelli is a features writer at the Chicago Tribune, where he specializes in subcultures, unusual characters and longform narrative approaches to storytelling. He has written about accordion salespeople, shadow-puppet artists and the lack of African-American chefs in high-end restaurants, among other topics. He previously was film critic and pop culture editor at The (Toledo) Blade, where he worked for a decade. Borrelli won a critic of the year award from the Society of Professional Journalists and is author of “Artists, Obsessives and Chicago Originals,” a collection of work published in 2013.

Jackie Calmes joined The New York Times as a national correspondent in its Washington bureau in August 2008, covering politics and economic policy through the Great Recession and its aftermath. She covered the White House for the first five years of the Obama administration. Before joining The Times, Calmes worked 18 years at The Wall Street Journal in its Washington bureau, covering Congress and the Clinton and Bush administrations, ending as the chief political correspondent for the 2006 and 2008 campaign cycles.

After reporting on the 2000 George W. Bush campaign and election recount, she covered election reform and politics in state capitals as well as Washington, and in June 2001 became editor of the Journal’s “Politics and Policy” page and reporter-writer of the "Washington Wire" column. For her coverage of the Bush White House and reelection campaign in 2004, Calmes was awarded the Gerald R. Ford Journalism Prize for Reporting on the Presidency.

Calmes began her journalism career covering state politics, government and assorted goings-on in Texas, at the Abilene (Texas) Reporter-News and in Austin, for the capital bureau of Harte-Hanks Newspapers and then the Austin bureau of the Dallas Morning News. Moving to Washington, D.C., in 1984, she worked for the Congressional Quarterly until 1990 and for a year as congressional reporter for the Atlanta Constitution and Cox Newspapers Inc., and was hired by the Wall Street Journal in 1990.

Anika Gupta is passionate about finding interdisciplinary and community-driven solutions to large journalistic problems. She’s spent the past year researching the ways in which the advent of participatory media has challenged traditional journalistic practices, with a focus on how news organizations have responded to the opportunities posed by online comments. In February, she co-organized a conference on the topic in partnership with the MIT Media Lab’s Future of News initiative. In her search for best practices in online community building, she’s interviewed moderators, commenters and academics from diverse news organizations and online platforms. As a journalist, she covered science and technology for publications all over the world. From 2009-2014, she lived in New Delhi, where she built a digital content property for the TV channel CNN IBN, covered national science policy for the Hindustan Times (a major English-language newspaper), and started an interdisciplinary community group (Hacks/Hackers New Delhi) devoted to brainstorming better ways to marry journalism and technology. She graduates from MIT in June 2016 with a Master’s in Comparative Media Studies.

Ann Marie Lipinski is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, home to an international fellowship program and an innovative group of publications about journalism, including Nieman Lab, Nieman Reports and Nieman Storyboard. Before coming to Harvard, Lipinski served as senior lecturer and vice president for civic engagement at the University of Chicago. Prior to that, she was the editor-in-chief and senior vice president of the Chicago Tribune, a post she held for nearly eight years following assignments as managing editor, metropolitan editor and investigations editor. As a reporter at the Tribune, Lipinski was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for investigative journalism for stories she wrote with two other reporters on government corruption in Chicago. While editor of the paper, she oversaw work that won Pulitzers in international reporting, feature writing, editorial writing, investigative reporting and explanatory journalism. Lipinski is a trustee of the Poynter Institute for journalism and a past co-chair of the Pulitzer Prize board. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and sits on the executive committee of Harvard’s Center for African Studies.

Stephen Maher is a columnist with Postmedia News in Ottawa. He has covered national politics in Canada since 2004, often writing about corruption and electoral wrongdoing. In 2012, after he and a colleague uncovered a telephone voter suppression campaign, he won several journalism awards, including a Michener Award, a National Newspaper Award and the Canadian Hillman Prize. He began his career in 1989 as a reporter for a weekly in Newfoundland and also worked for The Chronicle Herald in Halifax. He has traveled to Haiti and Afghanistan on assignment. In 2013, he published the political thriller “Deadline.” He is the 2016 Martin Wise Goodman Canadian Nieman Fellow. Goodman was a 1962 Nieman Fellow and president of Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd.

Michael Rezendes is an investigative reporter and political writer at The Boston Globe. He was a member of the Boston Globe Spotlight Team for nearly a decade and shared a Pulitzer Prize for investigating the cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. He has probed a wide array of additional topics, including the September 11 attacks, prison suicides, healthcare costs, and the role of money in presidential politics.

Neil Shea grew up near Boston and worked as a wilderness guide before becoming a writer. He is a contributing editor at The American Scholar and the Virginia Quarterly Review, and his work regularly appears in National Geographic Magazine. He has also written for many other publications including Foreign Policy, The Atlantic Monthly, The Christian Science Monitor, and Inversion Magazine. From 2004 to 2008 he was a staff writer for National Geographic; before joining the magazine he was a reporter for the Providence Journal.

Shea’s writing has been recognized nationally with gold and silver Lowell Thomas Awards for his stories on Ethiopia and Cuba, and an award for environmental reporting from the Society of Environmental Journalists. He has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award and the Overseas Press Club Award, and his story from subterranean Paris was listed in The Best American Travel Writing, 2012. In 2016, he wrote, produced, and presented his first television documentary—an episode of the Explorer series on the National Geographic Channel. The show is called “Fighting ISIS,” and is based on a feature story he wrote on Iraqi Kurds and their struggle to defend their homeland. When he’s not in the field, Neil teaches at Boston University and Sewanee, the University of the South.

Anastasia Taylor-Lind is an English-Swedish photographer whose work focuses largely on women, birth rights, population and war. She is a contributor to National Geographic magazine and a TED Fellow. In 2014, she published her first book, “Maidan – Portraits from the Black Square,” which documents the Ukrainian uprising in Kiev. Her images have been exhibited in spaces such as the Saatchi Gallery, the Frontline Club, and the National Portrait Gallery in London. Her award-winning work has appeared in GEO, Time, The New Yorker, The Sunday Times Magazine, Telegraph magazine and Vanity Fair. She is a Ruth Cowan Nash Nieman Fellow. Nash was best known for her work as an Associated Press war correspondent during World War II.

Wendi C. Thomas is a columnist for The Memphis Flyer. Her work explores racial justice and economic inequality. From 2003 to 2014, she was the metro columnist and assistant managing editor at The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal. Previously she was an editor at The Charlotte Observer, a reporter and editor at The Tennessean in Nashville and a reporter at The Indianapolis Star. She was inducted into the Scripps Hall of Fame for local commentary and developed a course on inequality as a visiting scholar at the University of Memphis. She also was a writing fellow at the Center for Community Change in Washington, D.C. Thomas 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.

Jeffrey R. Young is an editor and writer focused on technology issues and the future of education. He is currently a senior editor at The Chronicle of Higher Education leading a team exploring new story formats. He is also an adjunct professor of journalism at the University of Maryland at College Park, teaching a course on multimedia storytelling.

He was a 2014 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, where he was also a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

Young has written for national publications including The New York Times, New Scientist, Slate, and The Wall Street Journal. An article he wrote was selected for the anthology The Best of Technology Writing 2007. He joined The Chronicle in 1995, and has previously led the paper’s Students section, focusing on issues of college admissions and student life. In 2007, Young took a yearlong break from writing to become The Chronicle’s first Web editor, helping start blogs, podcasts, and multimedia features. In 2010 he took a month-long reporting trip to Asia, filing dispatches from China, India, Singapore, and South Korea.

John Wihbey is an assistant professor of journalism and new media at Northeastern. A technology writer, radio producer and media analyst, he teaches digital storytelling, data journalism and reporting. His areas of interest include social networks, online research and information-seeking behavior, data and access to knowledge issues, and sustainability and climate change. He writes for the Boston Globe, Nieman Journalism Lab and Yale Climate Connections. He has also reported for the Star-Ledger (N.J.), where he covered environmental issues, and was a producer and digital editor for the NPR show “On Point with Tom Ashbrook,” at WBUR-Boston. He is a graduate of Bowdoin College and holds master’s degrees from the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College, and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Christine Willmsen is an investigative journalist at The Seattle Times, where she writes about social injustice, government malfeasance, environmental issues and criminal justice. She was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist in the investigative, public service and breaking news categories and was on the reporting team that won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news. She received an honorary Doctor of Letters from Simpson College and won a National Press Club Award, Scripps Howard Public Service Award, SPJ Sigma Delta Chi Award and Investigative Reporters and Editors Award. Previously, she worked at the Dayton Daily News. Willmsen is a Murrey Marder Nieman Fellow in Watchdog Journalism. The fellowship honors the memory of Murrey Marder, a 1950 Nieman Fellow who helped found the Nieman Watchdog Project.

Wonbo Woo is a producer for “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt.” He joined NBC in 2012 after 12 years at ABC News. He has covered politics, breaking news, religion and features, but focuses on stories of human suffering and personal triumph. His field assignments include the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the Egyptian revolution and the Newtown school shooting in Connecticut. He has produced interviews with Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and with candidates Barack Obama, John McCain and Mitt Romney. He is a two-time Emmy winner and was part of teams that won DuPont and Murrow awards.