Meet the 2020-21 Poynter-Koch Media and Journalism Fellows

More than 50 emerging journalists, representing some of the biggest names in journalism, are participating in the yearlong career accelerator program.

July 29, 2020

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (July 29, 2020) — The Poynter Institute is proud to announce that 57 emerging journalists were selected for the second year of the intensive Poynter-Koch Media and Journalism Fellowship program.

This year’s cohort is incredibly diverse, consisting of not just reporters but also visual journalists, designers and opinion writers. Fellows are placed as paid, full-time journalists at such esteemed local news outlets as The Dallas Morning News, Miami Herald/El Nuevo, WBTV Charlotte and St. Louis Public Radio and at niche outlets with national reach such as Chalkbeat and Blavity. Over the course of the yearlong program, fellows learn from each other, on the job and from a robust curriculum designed by Poynter faculty Samantha Ragland.


RELATED: Poynter, Koch Institute join forces on media and journalism fellowship


“The fellowship is a true career accelerator with real-world application, rigorous weekly workshops, advisory groups, one-on-one mentoring and communal events,” said Ragland, who served as a fellowship mentor and instructor before taking over the program this year. “But my mission is to help fellows find their people — a diverse learning community of passionate journalists that supports and challenges each member for the rest of their careers. Connection is how we foster innovation.”

The 2020-21 program kicked off at the end of June with an online, two-day summit followed by one-on-one welcome calls with Ragland and small-group meetings led by advisers. Weekly two-hour workshops began this week and will focus on four key areas:

  1. Foundations of journalism, including ethics, implicit bias and the Freedom of Information Act
  2. Beat-fluid storytelling, from long-form features and enterprise reporting to vertical and horizontal video
  3. Audience engagement strategy that goes beyond social media and explores platform monetization
  4. Leadership development, which is new to the curriculum in 2020 and includes conflict resolution and understanding business models

Ragland collaborates with Tim McCaughan, senior manager of media programs for the Charles Koch Institute, to design the workshops around the 24-hour news cycle, allowing for structured training on specific topics by guest faculty and lightning-round, actionable training that responds to the news of the day. Each workshop ends by breaking into advisory groups, with the same cross-sectional and diverse group of Fellows consulting with a veteran journalist to develop a strong network and gain valuable feedback. Advisers include award-winning journalists Benét Wilson, Joie Chen, Omar L. Gallaga, Dan Lothian, Caitlin Dewey and Chris Sheridan.

“The role of a free press in a liberal democracy and an open society cannot be overstated,” McCaughan said, who had a 25-year career in journalism previously. “The fellows in this program represent the future for a struggling industry at an uncertain time and give optimism for a future as strong and vibrant as its proud legacy.”

In addition to the weekly online training, Fellows will choose from dozens of mentors for biweekly, one-on-one coaching that starts this fall. The mid-year summit is slated for December and the closing summit will be spring 2021.

Please welcome the 2020/21 Poynter-Koch Media and Journalism Fellows:

  • Christian Alexander Jones, News Producer, WBRC Fox6 News
  • Adam Bakst, Staff Writer, Greenwood Commonwealth
  • Jeremy Beaman, Commentary Staff Writer, Washington Examiner
  • Brittany Bernstein, News Writer, National Review
  • Megan Botel, Reporting Fellow, The GroundTruth Project
  • Chase Brush, Assistant Editor, American Heritage
  • Ryan Callihan, County Reporter, Bradenton Herald
  • Eleanore Catolico, Education Reporter, Chalkbeat Detroit
  • Devoun Cetoute, Real-Time Reporter, Miami Herald
  • Jillian Cheney, Religion and Social Media Reporter, Religion Unplugged
  • Richard Childress, Higher Education Reporter, Lexington Herald-Leader
  • Morgan Chittum, Reporter, New York Daily News
  • Brendan Clarey, Editorial Fellow, The Detroit News
  • Caroline Craighead, Editorial Assistant, SeattlePI
  • Juan de Dios Figueroa, Photographer, The Dallas Morning News
  • Daniel Desrochers, Political Reporter, Lexington Herald-Leader
  • Kayla Drake, General Assignment Reporter, St. Louis Public Radio
  • Jess Dyer, Supervising Producer/Special Projects Coordinator, WBTV
  • Elissa Esher, Product Editorial Assistant, Hearst Newspapers
  • ShaCamree Gowdy, Digital Reporter, Houston Chronicle
  • Lautaro Grinspan, Reporter, el Nuevo Herald/Miami Herald
  • Tim Gruver, General Assignment Reporter, The Center Square
  • Michal Higdon, Investigative Reporter/Breaking News Anchor, WCSC
  • Tobias Hoonhout, News Writer, National Review
  • Karen Hopper Usher, General Assignment Reporter, Cadillac News
  • Charles Innis, Accountability Reporter, The News & Observer
  • Allana J. Barefield, General Beat Reporter, Texas Metro News
  • Kaley Johnson, Breaking News Reporter, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
  • Vivian Jones, Reporter, The Center Square
  • Andrea Keckley, Assistant Editor, DC Witness
  • Sam Kmack, Investigative Reporter, Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting
  • Charlotte Lawson, Reporter, The Dispatch
  • Ariama Long, Staff Reporter, Kings County Politics
  • Ashley M. Moss, Multimedia Journalist, Texas Metro
  • Giana Magnoli, Managing Editor, Noozhawk.com
  • Kavahn Mansouri, Local Government Accountability Reporter, Belleville News-Democrat
  • Michelle Marchante, Realtime News Reporter, Miami Herald
  • Mariah McBride, Editor/Program Assistant, The Real Chi (Free Spirit Media)
  • Isaiah Murtaugh, Reporting Fellow, The GroundTruth Project
  • Jacob Orledge, News Reporter, The Journal
  • Jazmin Orozco Rodriguez, Fellow / Reporter, The Nevada Independent
  • Samuel Park, Digital Producer, Chalkbeat
  • DeMario Phipps-Smith, Reporter, Blavity
  • Michaela Ramm, Health Care Reporter, The Gazette
  • Maddison Raynor, News Producer, NEWS CENTER Maine
  • Micaela Ricaforte, News Editor, AllSides
  • Sarah Ritter, Johnson County Reporter, The Kansas City Star
  • Mitch Ryals, Reporter, Washington City Paper
  • Rebecca San Juan, Real Estate Newsletter Reporter, Miami Herald
  • Clarissa Sosin, Multimedia Staff Reporter, Queens County Politics
  • Ha Ta, Digital Magazine Fellow, The Scope
  • Ariana Taylor, Breaking News Reporter, The Detroit News
  • Tessa Weinberg, State Government Reporter, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
  • Monique Welch, Engagement Producer, Tampa Bay Times

 

About The Poynter Institute:

The Poynter Institute for Media Studies is a global leader in journalism education and a strategy center that stands for uncompromising excellence in journalism, media and 21st-century public discourse. Poynter faculty teach seminars and workshops at the Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida, and at newsrooms, conferences and organizations around the world. Its e-learning division, News University, offers the world’s largest online journalism curriculum, with hundreds of interactive courses and tens of thousands of registered international users. The Institute’s website produces 24-hour coverage about media, ethics, technology and the business of news. Poynter is the home of the Craig Newmark Center for Ethics and Leadership, the Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact, the International Fact-Checking Network and MediaWise, a digital information literacy project for young people, first-time voters and senior citizens. The world’s top journalists and media innovators rely on Poynter to learn and teach new generations of reporters, storytellers, media inventors, designers, visual journalists, documentarians and broadcasters. This work builds public awareness about journalism, media, the First Amendment and discourse that serves democracy and the public good.

Per Poynter’s Ethics Policy, Poynter maintains editorial independence regarding curriculum and content. The media and journalism fellowship relationship between Poynter and the Charles Koch Institute is a teaching partnership. A list of Poynter’s largest funders and teaching partners can be found here.

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