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2019 Christopher J. Georges Conference on College Journalism

Speaker Bios

Benny Becker

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 2019 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.

Taylor Blatchford

Taylor Blatchford is a news producer at The Seattle Times, where she develops audience engagement strategies, connects with readers through social media and curates the homepage. She also writes a weekly newsletter called The Lead to provide resources and connections for student journalists in college and high school. A graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism, she is especially interested in how investigative reporting and audience engagement can connect more organically. Blatchford previously reported on the future of news with a focus on student media at The Poynter Institute. At the Columbia Missourian, she led a team focused on bringing community engagement into the reporting process and reported on health and higher education. She also wrote and edited at Investigative Reporters and Editors and at POLITICO Europe, she developed engagement strategies to reach an international audience.

Ian Brooking

Ian Livingston Brooking is the editor-in-chief of Coastal Carolina University’s student newspaper, The Chanticleer, and a news editor/prompter director for WPDE ABC 15 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. At The Chanticleer, he leads volunteer reporters and photographers. He also dedicates time to reporting for the publication, covering a variety of topics from campus sporting events to changes in administrative staff. At WPDE, he cuts and edits video footage and sound bites for newscasts, runs the teleprompter and aids field reporters in obtaining B-roll and shooting live shots. A four-time South Carolina Press Association Collegiate Journalism award winner, Brooking is a senior at Coastal Carolina University majoring in communications with a concentration in interactive journalism.

Anica Butler

Anica Butler, a 2019 Nieman Fellow, 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.

Andy Duehren

Andy Duehren is a reporter for The Wall Street Journal based in Washington, D.C., where he covers Congress and writes the “Political Intelligence” section of the paper’s politics newsletter. Previously, he was the managing editor of The Harvard Crimson and an intern at The Texas Tribune and Hartford Courant.

Catie Edmondson

Catie Edmondson is a Washington, D.C.-based reporter for The New York Times covering Congress, with a focus on foreign policy. From June 2018-January 2019, she was a James Reston Reporting Fellow at the Times. She graduated from Barnard College in 2018, where she was the editor-in-chief of the Columbia Daily Spectator. She previously interned at The Boston Globe and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel before joining the Times, and is from Appleton, Wisconsin.

Kaeti Hinck

Kaeti Hinck, a 2019 Nieman Fellow, was most recently an editor at The Washington Post, where she led 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.

Mary Ellen Klas

Mary Ellen Klas, a 2019 Nieman Fellow, 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. 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

Marisa Kwiatkowski

Marisa Kwiatkowski recently joined USA Today after working as an investigative reporter at The Indianapolis Star. At the Star, she handled investigations relating to social services and welfare issues, including child abuse and neglect, poverty, elder abuse, human trafficking, domestic violence and access to mental health services. In 2016, Kwiatkowski and her Star colleagues launched an investigation into USA Gymnastics that revealed top officials at the sport’s national governing body failed to report many allegations of sexual abuse by coaches. It also showed how predators exploited a lax culture to prey on children. As a result of the series, about 500 women came forward with allegations of sexual abuse against Larry Nassar, a longtime team physician who worked in four Olympic games. Nassar pleaded guilty and is now serving time in prison, and the CEO and board of directors of USA Gymnastics resigned. Others involved in the scandal have faced criminal charges. The series also spurred the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017. Kwiatkowski has earned more than 50 journalism awards for her work, including her coverage of the difficulties faced by children with mental illnesses and developmental disabilities when seeking appropriate mental health services. Prior to joining the Star, she worked for media outlets in northwestern Indiana, South Carolina and Michigan.

Ann Marie Lipinski

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 fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and was a 1990 Nieman Fellow.

Frank D. LoMonte

Frank D. LoMonte served as executive director of the Student Press Law Center (SPLC) from 2008-2017 and currently heads the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information, a First Amendment think tank at the University of Florida. He has worked as a lawyer in every sector—government, private practice, nonprofit and education—after a career as an investigative reporter and political columnist. He remains an active volunteer as the Senior Legal Fellow at SPLC, where he is national co-chair of New Voices USA, a movement to pass laws in all 50 states that protect the independence of student newsrooms.

Steve Myers

Steve Myers, a 2019 Nieman Fellow, 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. At Harvard, he is studying how nonprofit investigative news sites can best reach civic-minded audiences, demonstrate their value and increase reader support.

Francesca Panetta

Francesca Panetta, a 2019 Nieman Fellow, 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

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 2019 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.

Christine Schmidt

Christine Schmidt is a Nieman Lab staff writer who focuses on local news. She joined the Lab full-time after serving as its Google News Lab Fellow in 2017. Previous newsrooms include The Dallas Morning News, NBC4 in Los Angeles and The Hartford Courant. She hails from Chicago’s Southside Irish and received a bachelor’s degree in public policy from the University of Chicago.

Gabriella Schwarz

Gabriella Schwarz, a 2019 Nieman Fellow, 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.