Fellowships Awarded

3 Apr

Fifteen U.S. journalists have been chosen to take part in an innovative fellowship program to report on the complexities of immigration with clarity, depth and context.The program, “Immigration in the Heartland,” is being conducted by the Institute for Justice and Journalism (IJJ) in partnership with the University of Oklahoma’s Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication and its Institute for Research and Training. It is funded by a grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

The program opens April 10 with discussions with experts, field reporting and professional workshops at OU in Norman, Okla., and in Oklahoma City. The program moves to Dallas, April 14-16, where the emphasis will be immigration law, immigration courts and a briefing by officials of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The selected journalists — from newspapers, television, public radio and an independent reporting program — are:
•    Shajia Ahmad, reporter, The Garden City (Kan.) Telegram.
•    Elizabeth Baier, reporter and producer, Minnesota Public Radio.
•    Vallery M. Brown, investigative team reporter, The Oklahoman in Oklahoma City
•    Thomas Burr, senior Washington correspondent, The Salt Lake Tribune.
•    Chris Casey, reporter and columnist, The Tribune in Greeley, Colo.
•    Stephanie Czekalinski, reporter, the Columbus Dispatch and editor for Fronteras, its Spanish-language weekly.
•    Ginnie Graham, reporter, Tulsa World.
•    Ron Jackson, projects reporter, The Oklahoman in Oklahoma City.
•    Miriam Jordan, senior special writer, Los Angeles bureau of The Wall Street Journal.
•    Pilar Marrero, senior political reporter and blogger for La Opinión and other ImpreMedia newspapers.
•    Lee Rood, investigations editor at the Des Moines Register.
•    Mary Sanchez, metropolitan columnist for The Kansas City Star and syndicated columnist with Tribune Media Services.
•    Patricia Schneider, reporter, The Capital Times in Madison, Wis.
•    David Stout, producer and reporter, T30 Noticias, the Telemundo affiliate in Oklahoma.
•    Sarah Terry-Cobo, reporter, the Center for Investigative Reporting.

Each selected journalist will be responsible for producing an in-depth project story or a series of shorter stories that will draw from the fellowship experience.  In addition to publication or broadcast in the Fellows’ designated outlets, the completed work will be featured on IJJ’s Web site (www.justnews.org).

The Fellows’ stories “will help inform both policymakers and the public about significant issues relating to immigration in the nation’s heartland,” said Steve Montiel, IJJ board president.

IJJ has conducted a dozen successful fellowship programs, involving more than 200 journalists. Three of the fellowships have focused on immigration issues on the West Coast, East Coast and the U.S.-Mexico border. This program focuses on the often contentious issues of immigration in the South, Midwest and other non-border states.

In the last dozen years, millions of people have migrated to the nation’s heartland from Latin America and other regions. Their willingness to work for low wages in fields and factories bolstered many local economies.  At the same time, the arrival of the new immigrants, many of them undocumented, has engendered tension and political polarization in a number of communities. These developments have played out amid a national debate on illegal immigration and a declining economic picture.

With resources at news organizations stretched thin, it has become more challenging than ever for journalists to undertake in-depth reporting projects. The IJJ fellowship seeks to enhance the journalists’ expertise in this subject and to provide resources for more incisive exploration of the topic.

IJJ Senior Fellow Warren Vieth, a visiting professor at OU’s Gaylord College, is serving as project director. Working with Vieth, a former Los Angeles Times reporter and editor, as program faculty will be four IJJ Senior Fellows: Daniel Kowalski, an immigration attorney who is editor-in-chief of Bender’s Immigration Bulletin; Julio César Ortiz, a television reporter at KMEX-34 Univision in Los Angeles; Dianne Solís, a senior writer at the Dallas Morning News, and Frank O. Sotomayor, a former LA. Times editor who teaches at USC.

OU’s Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication, in Norman, Okla., offers course work in three main focus areas: journalism, media arts and strategic communication.

The Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation was established by Edith Kinney Gaylord to support projects designed to improve the quality and ethical standards of journalism. It is based in Oklahoma City.

The Institute for Justice and Journalism became an independent, tax-exempt entity in 2009 after nine years of affiliation with USC’s Annenberg School for Communication. IJJ supports in-depth reporting and commentary through its Justice and Journalism Fund, fellowships and professional development workshops. Its Web site provides reporting resources to strengthen journalism about justice issues.


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