2011 Heartland Fellows Selected

2 Feb

Feb. 2, 2011

With the debate over immigration raging across the country, 15 journalists have been selected to take part in a fellowship program that challenges reporters to go beyond familiar sound bites and instead cover the complexities of immigration with 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 March 5, featuring discussions with experts, field reporting andprofessional workshops at OU in Norman and in Oklahoma City. Issues to be explored include education, labor and immigration law. Speakers with contrasting views on immigration will make presentations on the pros and cons of existing and proposed state legislation. Oklahoma in 2007 passed HB 1804, one of the nation’s strictest laws against illegal immigrants. A number of states, including Oklahoma, are now considering legislation patterned after Arizona’s controversial SB 1070.

On March 9, the fellowship program moves to Dallas for discussions on the economic effects of immigration and for reporting from federal immigration courts. Officials of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement also will provide a briefing for the Fellows.

The selected journalists, from print, broadcast and online reporting sites, are:

  • Michael Baker, senior staff writer, The Oklahoman
  • Maria Bastidas, associate editor, Mundo Hispanico newspaper, Atlanta
  • Jason Buch, reporter, San Antonio Express-News
  • M. Scott Carter, Capitol bureau reporter, The Journal Record, Oklahoma City
  • Rachel Cernansky, freelancer, Boulder, Colo.
  • Diana Correa, executive producer, Hispanic Information & Telecommunications Network, New York
  • Jaclyn Cosgrove, investigative reporter, Oklahoma Watch
  • Rebekah Cowell, freelance contributor, Independent Weekly, Durham, N.C.
  • Ralph De La Cruz, blogger and reporter, Florida Center for Investigative Reporting
  • Sarah Gustavus, reporter, KUNM (NPR-affiliated station), Albuquerque
  • Alex Kellogg, national correspondent, NPR Washington Bureau
  • Jens Krogstad, reporter, Des Moines Register
  • Kari Lydersen, freelancer, Chicago
  • Sandra Martinez, reporter, The Santa Fe New Mexican and editor of La Voz section
  • Teresa Puente, blogger and assistant professor, Columbia College Chicago

Six OU journalism students will audit sessions and write stories on immigration issues under the direction of Warren Vieth, a visiting professor at Gaylord College. They are Graham Brewer, Logan Layden, LeighAnne Manwarren, Ricky Maranon, Melissa Morgan and Whitney Ortega.

The March fellowship conference follows a successful launch of the Heartland program last April. Sessions this year also will include:

  • Training in the use of online databases, such as TRAC, to more effectively produce immigration-related stories.
  • Exploration of the demographic changes and impacts brought on by immigration.
  • Field reporting in Oklahoma City to assess the influence of national immigration policy and state law on education and the labor market.
  • A session focusing on Oklahoma’s Sharia law, passed in 2010, and other issues involving Muslims in the United States.
  • An educational program at the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, site of the 1995 Murrah Federal Building bombing. The attack was carried out by a U.S.-born terrorist, but the event helped spur congressional action in 1996 that restricted immigration.

Each Fellow will produce an in-depth project story or a series of shorter stories about immigration. In addition to use on the Fellow’s designated outlet, the completed work will be featured on IJJ’s website (http://www.justnews.org) and the Heartland site.

Vieth, an IJJ Senior Fellow, serves as program, director. The program’s faculty includes five other IJJ Senior Fellows: Daniel Kowalski, an immigration attorney who is editor-in-chief of Bender’s Immigration Bulletin; Martha Mendoza, national writer for the Associated Press; Julio César Ortiz, a reporter at KMEX-TV Univision 34 in Los Angeles; Dianne Solís, a senior writer at the Dallas Morning News, and Frank O. Sotomayor, a former L.A. Times editor.

Also on the faculty will be Steve Montiel, IJJ board president, and Sharon Rosenhause, board secretary. Rosenhause, former managing editor of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, will lead a session on journalism ethics and immigration coverage.

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, based in Oakland, Calif., supports in-depth reporting and commentary through professional development fellowships and workshops.

IJJ is an independent 501(c)3 organization, building on nine years of affiliation with the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism at the University of Southern California.  Its website provides reporting resources to strengthen journalism about justice issues.

For additional information, please contact: Warren Vieth, wvieth@ou.edu or Frank Sotomayor, frank.sotomayor@sbcglobal.net.

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