June 30, 2021

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (June 30, 2021) – The Poynter Institute is proud to welcome 53 emerging journalists to the third year of its prestigious Poynter-Koch Media and Journalism Fellowship program. The fellowship kicked off this month with a two-day online opening summit.

This impressive class of early-career media professionals includes reporters, editors, producers and developers from news organizations across the country who aspire to be future industry leaders. They represent a variety of outlets spanning from local stations to niche publications such as The Sacramento Bee, Gay City News, KALB-TV and WBEZ Chicago.

Fellows are placed as paid, full-time employees at participating news organizations and receive intensive, yearlong training to hone their leadership skills and accelerate their careers in journalism. They will connect with seasoned mentors and award-winning journalists on a weekly basis and follow a robust, real-world curriculum led by Poynter faculty Samantha Ragland.

“The fellowship offers our nation’s up-and-coming newsmakers a cross-disciplinary approach to journalism,” said Ragland, who served as a fellowship mentor and instructor before taking over the program in 2020. “Newsrooms are rapidly changing to meet the demands of the evolving media landscape, and our Fellows will be working together to tap into exclusive opportunities that will help shape the future of journalism.”

The participants will complete a series of experiential learning workshops and discussions about today’s most pressing issues facing the journalism industry. They’ll dive deep into a diverse curriculum with a Covering the Frontlines panel series sharing lessons learned from the pandemic, racial justice and natural disasters as well as the internal lessons and best practices for newsroom diversity. The weekly sessions will evolve to respond to the Fellows’ needs and desires for growth in the industry and will include opportunities to build skills in data reporting, investigative journalism, self-editing, digital storytelling and more.

“After one of the most challenging years of journalism in recent history, my goal is to foster a renewed sense of hope for our Fellows over the next 12 months,” said Ragland. “Fellows will learn how to identify and overcome obstacles in journalism with actionable solutions. We’ll build a community that learns from each other and sparks creativity and innovative thinking.”

Ragland works alongside Tim McCaughan, senior manager of media programs for the Charles Koch Institute, to design the instruction around four key areas including the foundations of journalism, the craft of storytelling, audience engagement strategies and leadership and innovation.

“Local journalism plays a critical role in ensuring communities have access to news that impacts their lives,” said Charles Koch Institute’s Tim McCaughan, who co-leads the program with Poynter following a 25-year career in journalism. “We are proud to support and accelerate the early careers of journalists working in their communities who represent the future of the institution and the spirit that will identify the solutions to ensure a vibrant, unfettered press corps for years to come.”

Each workshop ends with a retrospective breakout session led by veteran advisers. This year’s roster of advisers includes Poynter consultant Omar Gallaga, who spent more than two decades writing for The Austin American-Statesman, as well as Gil Asakawa, cultural communications consultant, journalist and founding member and president of the Asian American Journalist Association’s Denver chapter; Russell Contraras, race and justice reporter for Axios; Caitlin Dewey, enterprise reporter for The Buffalo News; Dan Lothian, interim executive producer for The World and founder/president of Little Park Media; Chris Sheridan, former media executive for ESPN, CNBC, NBC and ABC; and Benet Wilson, senior editor for The Points Guy and freelance aviation journalist and blogger.

To supplement their weekly training, Fellows will also participate in a capstone project to test their leadership and journalistic skills and attend three multi-day summits.

By the end of the program, Fellows will join a strong network of colleagues who are passionate about the future of journalism and the critical role of the free press in society.

“Journalists inspire and educate with stories that explain, provoke and expose the world around us. And, in doing so, the press builds a foundation of trust and mutual understanding that is essential for democracy to work,” said Kelly McBride, senior vice president and chair of the Craig Newmark Center for Ethics and Leadership at Poynter. “By creating a supportive community of early-career journalism professionals, we aim to enhance their skills so they in turn can enhance the profession at a time when the field offers incredible opportunities and unprecedented challenges.”

Congratulations to the following 2021-22 Poynter-Koch Media and Journalism Fellows:

  • Hani Albarghouthi, Breaking News Reporter, The Detroit News
  • Andrew Barnett, Digital Content Producer, WBTV
  • Diego Jesus Bartesaghi Mena, Human Connections Reporter, Montclair Local News
  • Tat Bellamy-Walker, Digital Editor/Reporter, Gay City News
  • Kelsey Beyeler, Education Reporter, Nashville Scene
  • Tyisha Blade, Producer, WOIO Ch. 19
  • Ambar Castillo, Local News Reporter, Washington City Paper
  • Jeremy Chisenhall, Breaking News Reporter, Lexington (Kentucky) Herald-Leader
  • Jason Cohen, Reporter, Bronx Times
  • Madison Davis, Reporter, Alabama News Network
  • Dylan Michael Domangue, Reporter/Anchor, KALB-TV
  • Cassidy Grom, News App Developer, NJ.com
  • Margie Gunter, Assignment Editor, WBRC
  • Mark Hallum, Managing Editor, American Heritage Magazine
  • Kristin Hugo, Editorial Fellow, Bay Nature Institute
  • Anna Johnson, Local Government Reporter, The News & Observer (Raleigh, North Carolina)
  • Chase Karacostas, Tourism/Business Reporter, The Myrtle Beach (South Carolina) Sun News
  • Brianna Kudisch, Reporter, NJ Advance Media
  • Hernz Laguerre, Jr., Multimedia Journalist, The Detroit News
  • Kristin Lam, Accountability Reporter, The Modesto Bee
  • Asher Lehrer-Small, Staff Reporter, The 74
  • Katherine Lewin, Enterprise Reporter, The Florida Times-Union
  • Brian Lopez, Local Government Reporter, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
  • Tory Lysik, Assistant Editor, DC Witness
  • Rudy Malcom, Assistant Editor, Baltimore Witness
  • Davide Mamone, News Reporter, The Advocate (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)
  • Farrah Mina, Reporting Fellow, The Kansas City Star
  • Challis Morgan, Digital Content Producer, WBRC Fox6 News
  • Tabitha Mueller, Reporter, The Nevada Independent
  • Syra Ortiz-Blanes, Puerto Rico and Spanish Caribbean Reporter, El Nuevo Herald
  • Kasturi Pananjady, Data Reporter, The Connecticut News Project
  • Ashleigh Panoo, Higher Education Reporter, The Fresno (California) Bee
  • Harvest Prude, Reporter, The Dispatch
  • Nakeisha Rowe, Education Reporter, The Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, Mississippi)
  • Giuseppe Sabella, Youth Reporter, Bradenton Herald
  • Anna Savchenko, Reporter, WBEZ Chicago
  • William Schick, Reporter, Street Sense Media
  • Lucille Sherman, State Politics Reporter, The News & Observer (Raleigh, North Carolina)
  • Mackenzie Shuman, Reporter, The Tribune
  • C. Isaiah Smalls II, Race & Culture Reporter, The Miami Herald
  • Quentin Smith, General Assignment News Reporter/MMJ, WLBT News
  • John Steppe, Reporter, The Cedar Rapids Gazette
  • Lauren Teruya, Reporter, Civil Beat
  • Jack Tomczuk, News Reporter, Metro Philadelphia
  • DeAndria Turner, Chief Bureau Reporter, Shoals Area WAFF 48 News
  • Elias Valverde, Staff Photographer, The Dallas Morning News
  • Abigail Vervaeke, Social Media Producer, Washingtonian
  • Bailey Vogt, Local Reporter, Washington City Paper
  • Lex Weaver, Editor-in-chief, The Scope: Boston
  • Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks, Reporter, The Sacramento Bee

For more information, visit poynter.org.

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. Learn more at poynter.org.

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.

Media Contact:
Tina Dyakon
Director of Marketing
The Poynter Institute

Support high-integrity, independent journalism that serves democracy. Make a gift to Poynter today. The Poynter Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, and your gift helps us make good journalism better.

More News

Back to News