Class of 2019
Soji Akinlabi is the lead producer and CEO of Africa Business Radio, an independently owned Johannesburg-based digital radio station that focuses on financial stories from across the continent. He reports on how entrepreneurship, policy and technology are shaping the industrialization of Africa. A native of Nigeria, Akinlabi previously worked as a producer on the Pan-African show “Good Morning Africa,” covering business, technology, politics and healthcare. He also worked as a business analyst for Planet TV.
Akinlabi is studying the U.S. public media business model to learn how it might promote ethical journalism, transparency and accountability in reporting while contributing to the development of media entrepreneurship.
Shaul Amsterdamski is the economics editor and a commentator at Kan, Israel’s public broadcasting corporation, where he covers macroeconomics, the pension system, the ministry of finance and major economic events. He previously worked as a senior reporter and commentator at Calcalist, Israel’s most-read business daily, where he was a senior reporter and commentator on topics such as the national budget, the political economy, macroeconomics and the health system. In 2014, he founded a data journalism lab together with the Shenkar College of Engineering Design and Art to make economics stories more understandable.
He is studying how public news organizations can use new technologies and forms of digital storytelling to deliver complex financial stories to a broad audience, with a focus on data journalism and crowdsourcing.
(Stories in Hebrew)
Christina Andreasen serves as the editor of digital development and social media at Berlingske, Denmark’s oldest daily. She manages the first-ever editorial development team, a group that works with new digital storytelling formats and platforms. She previously was the editorial lead in creating ALT.dk, the largest network of lifestyle websites for women in Denmark, consisting of eight magazine brands at Egmont Publishing. Andreasen serves on the board of the Danish Online News Association.
She is studying how legacy media can successfully develop digital journalism by incorporating new skill sets in newsrooms.
(Articles in Danish)
Samantha Appleton is an award-winning photographer who strives to capture the subtle moments that make up the complicated components of historically significant news stories. She has covered the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon, social issues in Africa and immigration in the U.S., and her work has been published in The New Yorker, Time, The New York Times and dozens of other publications. From 2009-2011, she was a White House photographer for the Obama administration. She is completing a book about photographing war and the White House.
She is studying the concept of otherness in the American psyche, from slavery to war, and how it affects news reporting.
Juan Arredondo is a Colombian-American documentary photographer who has chronicled human rights and conflict stories in Colombia, Venezuela and Central America. He is a regular contributor to The New York Times and National Geographic. Since 2014, he has been reporting on the use of child soldiers by illegal armed groups in Colombia, the peace agreement between the Colombian government and FARC and, most recently, the reintegration of former fighters into Colombian society Colombian society, for which he was awarded a World Press Photo award in 2018. His work has been published by The Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair, ESPN, Der Spiegel and Le Monde.
He is studying the impact photography can have on reconciliation in post-conflict societies and how visual storytelling can engage citizens in the aftermath of violence.
Tanya Ballard Brown
Tanya Ballard Brown is a digital editor for NPR.org with experience brainstorming and implementing digital features; managing digital producers and interns; editing digital stories; and shepherding complex multimedia projects. She loves pop culture, arts and entertainment and has laughed loudly on NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast and Facebook Live segments. She sings show tunes, dances randomly and takes acting and improv classes. Ballard Brown is studying how comedic journalism—the intersection of humor, satire and journalism—can help journalists connect with their audiences and build community.
Benny Becker is a public radio reporter who covers jobs and money in the Appalachian coalfields for the Ohio Valley ReSource and WMMT/Appalshop. His reporting focuses on efforts to revitalize the region’s economy, obstacles to economic transition and the human impact of a century of extraction. Becker grew up in Morgantown, West Virginia, and got his start in radio news at WBRU and Rhode Island Public Radio in Providence. He then worked in Tel Aviv as a producer for the “Israel Story” podcast before moving to Kentucky to join WMMT. One of three inaugural Abrams Nieman Fellows for Local Investigative Journalism, he is researching and will do fieldwork on strategies for funding infrastructure in rural communities that are struggling with the collapse of an extractive economy.
- Troubled Waters: A Coalfield County Loses Trust In Water And Government (adapted for NPR’s Morning Edition)
- Derek Akal’s Struggle to Stay (adapted for NPR’s Embedded)
- Fighting For Breath: Black Lung’s Deadliest Form Increases (adapted for NHPRs Outside/In)
- Without A Net: Rural Residents Band Together For Internet Service (adapted for NPR’s Weekend Edition)
- Changing Course: Coal Country Students Working For A Power Switch
- Ohio Valley ReSource stories by Benny Becker
Anica Butler is a deputy editor in The Boston Globe’s news department and has been part of the newsroom’s digital reinvention. She was an editor on the Spotlight series “The Desperate and the Dead,” about the failed mental health care system in Massachusetts, and was on the team that won a 2014 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings. Previously, she worked at The Baltimore Sun, the Los Angeles Times and The Hartford Courant.
She is studying change management and design thinking to learn how newsroom culture can become more dynamic.
Mea Dols de Jong
Mea Dols de Jong is a documentary filmmaker and journalist from the Netherlands. Her first film, “If Mama Ain’t Happy, Nobody’s Happy,” received critical acclaim and was shown worldwide, by traditional broadcasters and increasingly, are available online. She explores topics ranging from small human-interest stories to politics. Variety chose her as one of the top 10 European filmmakers to watch and the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad named her on its list of the top 100 most influential Dutch artists.
She is studying the evolving rules for audiovisual journalism and storytelling online.
Mattia Ferraresi is the U.S. correspondent for the Italian newspaper Il Foglio and covers a wide range of topics, from politics to culture. His work has appeared in Panorama magazine, the Italian editions of Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone and other outlets. He is the author of five books including “La Febbre di Trump” (“Trump Fever”), the first extended account of Donald Trump’s life to be published in Italy. His latest book is a reflection on the retreat of Western liberalism.
He is studying the roots of American liberalism and its discontents, from the postwar consensus to the current era marked by the global resurgence of nationalistic and populist forces.
Myroslava Gongadze is the Ukrainian service chief and a TV anchor at Voice of America. Prior to joining VOA in 2004, she worked as a journalist, editor and producer in Ukraine and the United States for several media outlets including RFE/RL, Internews and IREX. Her work has been published in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times and The Journal of Democracy. Gongadze is an internationally recognized advocate for freedom of the press and the safety of reporters. In 2014, as anchor of VOA’s flagship daily news program “Chas Time,” she was chosen to host the first post-revolutionary parliamentary election debates for Ukrainian national television. Additionally, she produced and hosted “Prime Time,” which featured interviews with leading Ukrainian and international policymakers. In 2014, she was awarded the Princess Olha Order, a Ukrainian civil decoration, in recognition of her professional excellence and contribution to the development of journalism.
She is studying how propaganda is disseminated through new media channels, specifically in light of the Russian information warfare against the West.
- Ukraine: A Democracy at Risk (The Wall Street Journal)
- Ukraine FM: Russia Does Not Live in a Vacuum, Sanctions Are Effective (VOA)
- Interview with U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker on frontlines of Ukraine-Russia war (VOA)
- Forward to The Road to Justice (CPJ)
- Myroslava Gongadze interviewed about her career by Greta Van Susteren (VOA)
Kaeti Hinck is an editor at The Washington Post, where she leads a team of visual journalists and developers. She has been involved with some of the Post’s most ambitious projects, including investigations about unsolved murders, segregation in America, drug industry corruption and police shootings. Hinck previously worked as design director at the Institute for Nonprofit News. For more than a decade she has been exploring the power of visual communication, technology, and design in newsrooms
She is researching how neuroscience and psychology can inform the digital news ecosystem and reshape approaches to product design, visual journalism and trust.
Esther Htusan is a correspondent and reporter for The Associated Press and the first Nieman Fellow from Myanmar. She writes feature and news stories on topics such as human rights, ethnic and religious conflicts, humanitarian crises and political transitions. Before joining the AP, she worked as a freelance journalist for news organizations including The Independent and Swedish Radio. In 2016, Htusan and three of her AP colleagues received the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for their “Seafood from Slaves” series.
She is studying the impact of conflict, inequality and injustice on Myanmar and the surrounding region.
Jonathan Jackson is a co-founder and former head of corporate brand at Blavity Inc., the largest media company for black millennials, which maintains five unique sites covering travel, lifestyle, beauty, technology and culture. At Blavity, he oversaw community engagement, strategic partnerships and brand initiatives to help media clients and agencies better serve their audiences and engage more authentically in culture.
As the 2019 Nieman-Berkman Klein Fellow in Journalism Innovation, he is studying the emergence of black media in the digital age and examining new ways to measure black cultural influence in the U.S. and abroad, including its effects on media and advertising.
Mary Ellen Klas
Mary Ellen Klas is the capital bureau chief for The Miami Herald in Tallahassee, Florida, where she covers government and politics and focuses on enterprise and accountability reporting. She has uncovered deception by the utility industry, misuse of political accounts, cronyism in the governor’s office and administrative neglect of the state’s most fragile populations. She has shared her stories during appearances on NPR, MSNBC, CNN and Fox News and other news programs. Her work with the Herald’s investigative team on its child death series, “Innocents Lost,” won the Goldsmith Prize and Nieman’s Worth Bingham Prize for Investigative Journalism.
Klas is studying the relationship between declining journalism resources and corruption in state and local government, and what happens to government integrity when watchdog reporting declines
Uli Köppen is head of data journalism at the German public broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk (ARD). She oversees a team of journalists, coders and designers specializing in investigative data stories, interactive storytelling and experimentation with new research methods such as bots and machine learning. She is a founding member of butterland, a group dedicated to slow journalism whose projects include reporting done with victims of Turkey’s clampdown on press freedom. Together with her colleagues, she has won several awards including two CIVIS Media Prizes and a Philip Meyer Award as part of the first non-American team.
She is studying how coding and automation can improve journalism by enabling analysis of algorithms and machine bias within interdisciplinary newsrooms.
(Stories in German and English)
Sevgil Musaieva is a Ukrainian journalist from Crimea. As the editor-in-chief of the online newspaper Ukrayinska Pravda, she manages a group of websites run by the newspaper covering areas such as the economy, politics and the political history of the country. From 2008-2013, she served as the Ukrainian business reporter for the daily newspaper Delo, the weekly Vlast Deneg and Forbes Ukraine, specializing in oligarchic studies and corruption within the oil and gas industries. She is co-author of a book about Mustafa Dzhemilev, the leader of the Crimean Tatar people. She is a six-time winner of the Presszvanie, a prize given to the best economic journalists in Ukraine and received the Anthony Moskalenko Memorial Award for her contribution to the development of Ukrainian journalism.
She is studying a range of media markets to determine the best tools and practices for fostering journalism that is independent of political and business influences.
Steve Myers is editor of The Lens, a nonprofit investigative newsroom in New Orleans. He has overseen investigations that include prosecutors’ use of fake subpoenas and a scheme to pay actors to show support for a new power plant. Myers previously served as managing editor of Poynter Online and has worked at several newspapers in Alabama, North Carolina and West Virginia. In 2000, he created the news site y2kWhistlestop and followed the presidential primaries. He has been a professional in residence at Texas Christian University
He is studying how nonprofit investigative news sites can best reach civic-minded audiences, demonstrate their value and increase reader support.
Peter Nickeas is a breaking news reporter for the Chicago Tribune. His reporting focuses on violence and its effects on individuals and communities. He has written about the growing use of rifles by a single gang; efforts of two former gang rivals to bring peace to their neighborhood; and candid observations by city police officers about their work. Nickeas previously worked for the Times of Northwest Indiana and the Casper Star-Tribune.
He is studying the effects of trauma on children and how to use that knowledge to inform editorial decisions and make violence coverage more accessible to readers.
Yoshiaki Nohara is a Tokyo-based economics reporter for Bloomberg News. He specializes in enterprise stories about the Japanese economy and has also covered currencies, government bonds and stocks. Some of his stories have been published in Bloomberg Businessweek. He joined Bloomberg in 2009 after five years as a reporter at The Herald, a daily in Everett, Washington, where he covered various topics including local politics and a prison complex.
He is researching depopulation and its economic consequences in Japan as a case study for the trend in other nations.
Francesca Panetta is executive editor of virtual reality at The Guardian, where she has led immersive innovation for the last 10 years. She runs an in-house VR production studio dedicated to creating groundbreaking content. The studio’s first VR experience “6×9: A virtual experience of solitary confinement” won attention around the world as an exemplary case of story and form. She previously made interactive documentaries, augmented reality sound apps and led the Guardian’s podcast team. Panetta started her career at the BBC.
She is researching how experimentation and the adoption of emerging technologies in journalism can be more strategic.
Nathan Payne is executive editor of Michigan’s Traverse City Record-Eagle, where he previously worked as the paper’s features editor. He also serves as a regional editor for the CNHI newspaper group and works with the company’s local editors in Michigan, Minnesota and Iowa. Earlier in his career, Payne was a photographer, photo editor and city editor at the Gillette, (Wyoming) News Record, where he covered police, courts and special projects. Payne is one of three inaugural Abrams Nieman Fellows for Local Investigative Journalism.
He is studying the impact of data-driven investigative journalism on public perceptions of local media organizations and his fieldwork will examine the effects of mental health policies on local communities.
Laura N. Pérez Sánchez
Laura N. Pérez Sánchez is an investigative reporter and editor from Puerto Rico who covers local governments. She has worked for The Associated Press and El Nuevo Día, where she reported on tax policies, the island’s bankruptcy and the use of public funds. She is studying corruption in post-disaster efforts, and how journalism can exercise better watchdog practices following natural disasters. Pérez Sánchez is one of inaugural Abrams Nieman Fellows for Local Investigative Journalism.
She is studying corruption in post-disaster efforts, and how journalism can exercise better watchdog practices in reconstruction contexts. For her fieldwork, she will examine Puerto Rico’s ongoing reconstruction and use of relief funds after Hurricane Maria.
(Articles in Spanish)
Brent Renaud is a documentary filmmaker and photographer from Little Rock, Arkansas, who began his career covering the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the war in Afghanistan. Since then, he has worked mostly with his brother Craig on film projects including the HBO heroin documentary “Dope Sick Love” and the TV series “Off to War,” about a National Guard unit deployed to Iraq. He has covered the earthquake in Haiti, cartel violence in Mexico, the youth refugee crisis in Central America, political upheaval in Egypt and the war on extremism in Africa and the Middle East. In 2015, he received a Peabody Award for the Vice News series “Last Chance High,” about a therapeutic school in Chicago.
He is studying the effects of trauma and mental and emotional illness on rates of poverty and violence in America.
Gabriella Schwarz is the managing editor and head of news at Flipboard, a curation platform with 100 million users. She leads global editorial strategy and coverage of news, business, technology, politics, sports and celebrity news. Before joining Flipboard, she was a producer at CNN covering politics and then the White House. She traveled around the world covering President Obama and produced a documentary about him that chronicled his life and work through the eyes of cabinet members, lawmakers, family members and advisers. She previously worked at Fox News and Congressional Quarterly.
She is studying how the rise of human and algorithmic curation and aggregation has changed the news and affected the U.S. and democracy.
Matthew Teague is a correspondent who has contributed to The Guardian, National Geographic, The Atlantic, Sports Illustrated and Esquire. He has worked in dozens of countries, from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka to China and Northern Ireland. His writing has been included in “Best American Travel Writing,” “Best American Crime Writing,” “Best American Sports Writing” and “Don’t Quit Your Day Job: Acclaimed Authors and the Day Jobs They Quit.” He lives and works in Fairhope, Alabama.
He is studying the emerging interdependence of faith and politics in the United States, and how journalists can best understand and cover it.
Afsin Yurdakul is an anchor and correspondent at Turkey’s Habertürk news channel, where she hosts a daily news program and a weekly current affairs show. She previously was the network’s chief foreign editor and has reported extensively on the Syrian refugee crisis. Yurdakul previously wrote about the Middle East for publications including Foreign Policy and The New Republic.
She is studying the impact of the Syrian refugee crisis on Turkey and other host nations, focusing on what they can do to support the economic and social integration of refugees. She is recipient of the first Robert L. Long Nieman Fellowship for Turkish journalists.