About the Knight-Wallace Reporting Fellowship
We’ve turned our traditional fellowship model outward with the creation of the Knight-Wallace Reporting Fellowship, a remote fellowship designed to support ambitious reporting projects and adapted to the remote needs of Covid-19 and the ensuing period of transition and reopening.
The Knight-Wallace Reporting Fellowships provide an academic year of support and collaborative learning for journalists to pursue and publish in-depth projects. Our cohort of Knight-Wallace Reporting Fellows remains where they live while pursuing projects and pairing with a local or national news organization to develop and publish their work.
Reporting Fellows and their Reporting Projects
Assia Boundaoui is an investigative journalist and interdisciplinary artist. She has reported internationally for WGBH, PRI, BBC, Al Jazeera, VICE and CNN among others. Her debut short film about hijabi hair salons for HBO Documentary Films premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Her award-winning feature-length directorial debut, “The Feeling of Being Watched,” a documentary investigating a decade of FBI surveillance in her Muslim-American community, premiered at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival and was nationally broadcast on PBS “POV.” Boundaoui was named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 2018 “25 New Faces of Independent Film,” was a 2019 New America National Fellow and in 2020 was honored with the Livingston Award for national reporting. Boundaoui, an Algerian-born, Arabic-speaking Chicagoan, has an M.A. in journalism from New York University. @assuss
Redacted Stories: Re-examining FBI Surveillance Records of a Muslim-American Community
Since long before 9/11, the FBI has conducted sweeping mass-surveillance operations on Muslim-American communities throughout the country as part of what was eventually labeled the “War on Terror.” These decades-long investigations have targeted thousands of law-abiding American Muslims, sowing distrust, paranoia and fear in their communities in the process. Following up on an investigation she began in her film, “The Feeling of Being Watched,” Boundaoui will produce an interactive new-media documentary that uses technology to pursue radical transparency by analyzing a trove of redacted government FOIA records collected during a decade of FBI surveillance of her own Muslim-American community in Illinois.
Nichole Dobo is the Senior Editor for Audience Engagement and a writer at The Hechinger Report, a non-profit news outlet covering education nationally. Her work has been published in Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, TheAtlantic.com and Slate. She was a staff writer at The News Journal in Wilmington, Delaware, The York Daily Record/Sunday News in York, Pennsylvania, The Times-Tribune in Scranton and The Citizens’ Voice in Wilkes-Barre. She earned a B.A. in journalism at Pennsylvania State University. Dobo lives in Wilmington, Delaware with her husband and their two children. @NicholeDobo
A Reckoning: Higher Education and Rural America
Rural students have long attended college at lower rates than their urban and suburban peers. As popular opinion about the declining value of a four-year degree continues to accelerate the divide, it has become harder to convince students from these areas to pursue the surest path to a more certain economic future. Dobo will examine the reasons for these trends by documenting how rural high school students – and their parents – are making choices about higher education. This work will also look at the role the news media play in shaping the discourse about higher education and how improving the credibility of journalism among rural audiences might impact their decisions to pursue a college degree.
Daphne Duret is an investigative reporter for USA Today. She was previously on the investigation team for The Palm Beach Post, where she covered criminal and civil courts in Palm Beach and Martin counties. At The Post, Duret covered the aftermath of the fatal police shooting of motorist Corey Jones, won a court battle to unseal records of law enforcement use of secret cell phone tracking devices, and exposed an insurance fraud scheme between doctors, a medical device manufacturer, and a personal injury law firm to perform unnecessary surgery on accident victims. Before joining The Post, Duret worked for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and The Miami Herald. She holds a B.S. in print journalism from Florida International University. @dd_writes
Breaking Silence: The Plight of the Police Whistleblower
The death of George Floyd sparked debates over the need for police officers to prevent and speak out against instances of brutality by their colleagues. Tapping into a network of sources developed specifically for this project, Duret will travel the country to get first-hand accounts from police whistleblowers about the unique challenges that await those officers willing to report misconduct. Working as part of a team investigating the code of silence in law enforcement for USA Today, she will also explore efforts to include whistleblower protections in both state and federal police reform laws.
Jose Fermoso is a Contributing Senior Reporter for The Oaklandside covering technology and culture. He is the host and creator of the El Progreso podcast, a show featuring in-depth narrative stories and interviews focused on technology, business, and other issues affecting the Latinx community. Fermoso’s reporting has appeared in publications including The Guardian, The New York Times, One Zero, and Wired. He has also worked on the bestselling unauthorized biography of Apple’s Jony Ive and led all content initiatives at App Academy coding boot camp. Born and raised in Oakland, Fermoso holds a B.A. in rhetoric from the University of California, at Berkeley. @fermoso
Oakland’s Deadly Roadways: Reckoning with Inequities in Urban Design
As cities across the country pledge to right historical wrongs, these efforts will need to examine fault lines of inequity from the ground up. In Oakland, California, that means fixing notorious traffic corridors where collisions kill Oaklanders of color at starkly disproportionate levels. Reporting for the local non-profit newsroom The Oaklandside on inequities in the built environment, Fermoso will take a systems-driven, community-informed approach to investigate the origins of these deadly streets and determine what lessons Oakland may offer other cities grappling with issues of race and urban design.
Andrea González-Ramírez is an independent journalist originally from Puerto Rico and the founder of the Latinas in Journalism Mentorship Program. She received a 2021 ASME NEXT Award for Journalists Under 30 and was a 2020 Ida B. Wells Fellow at Type Investigations, where she conducted a year-long investigation into Puerto Rico’s epidemic of domestic violence. Her reporting led to major policy changes, contributing to the government’s declaration of a state of emergency over gender-based violence. Her work has appeared in The Cut, The Lily, GEN, and Refinery29, and she recently authored a chapter for a book on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She holds a B.A. in Journalism and Sociology from the University of Puerto Rico and an M.A. from the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY. @andreagonram
A Watershed Moment for Addressing Sexual Violence in the U.S. Military
Almost thirty years after the Tailhook scandal brought the issue of sexual assault and harassment in the nation’s armed forces to a wider public, the murder of 20-year-old Army Specialist Vanessa Guillén at Fort Hood highlighted the fatal consequences of the U.S. military’s lack of progress since then in addressing the entrenched crisis of sexual violence amid its ranks. González-Ramírez will explore the impact Guillén’s murder has had on how the military deals with sexual misconduct and the challenges that lay ahead as new policies are considered.
Erika Hayasaki is an independent journalist and writer based in Southern California. Her feature stories have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Wired, The Atlantic and various other publications. Formerly a national correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, she is the author of “The Death Class: A True Story About Life” from Simon & Schuster. Her forthcoming non-fiction book, centered on a pair of identical twin sisters born in Vietnam and raised apart, will be released by Algonquin Books in Fall 2022. Hayasaki teaches science, health, digital and cultural narrative storytelling at the University of California, Irvine, where she is an associate professor in the Literary Journalism Program. @erikahayasaki
History, Hate Crimes and Police Brutality: A Tale of Black and Asian American Lives in Two Cities
This reporting project delves into history to understand modern-day Black and Asian American divides and alliances in the U.S. Hayasaki will tell the stories of two small cities — one in the Midwest, the other in the South — each a microcosm for race discussions in this country. She will look at local racial dynamics through the lens of social science, education and criminal justice reform. Using narrative storytelling to examine policies of policing, schools and housing, Hayasaki will employ immersive on-the-ground reporting with residents and in-depth interviews with academic experts who are studying complex relationships within systems of structural racism.
Jaeah Lee is an independent journalist based in San Francisco. She has written features about criminal justice and inequality for publications including The California Sunday Magazine, Vice News, Topic, Columbia Journalism Review, and Mother Jones, where she covered Ferguson and its aftermath as a staff reporter. Lee’s work has been recognized by the PEN America Literary Award for Journalism, the American Mosaic Journalism Prize, and the Debra E. Bernhardt Labor Journalism Prize. She is a recent board member of the Asian American Journalist Association’s Bay Area chapter, where she co-produced its live storytelling event, Hella Asian. She holds a B.A. in journalism and East Asia studies from New York University. @jaeahjlee
Medical Fact vs. Fiction in Fatal Police Encounters
Following the killings of George Floyd, Manuel Ellis, Elijah McClain, and countless others at the hands of police, local officials often have attributed the causes of death to purported medical conditions that have been criticized as pseudoscience. Victims’ families shoulder the burden of questioning official accounts to determine what exactly killed their loved one and who should be held responsible, on top of navigating their grief, media attention, and an opaque criminal justice system. Lee will use narrative and investigative reporting to highlight the role of such conditions following deaths in custody and the families who struggle to push back.
Surya Mattu is the Senior Data Engineer at The Markup. Previously, he was the data reporter at Gizmodo’s special projects desk and a contributing researcher at ProPublica. He has also worked as a researcher at Bell Labs, Data & Society, and the MIT Media Lab. At ProPublica, Mattu was part of the team that was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory Reporting for the series “Machine Bias.” At Gizmodo, “The House that Spied on Me” won the National Press Foundation’s Technology in Journalism award and was also made into a TED talk. He holds Masters degrees from the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and the University of Nottingham. @suryamattu
Investigating How Smartphone Apps Are Used to Track Us
Drawing on his experience as an investigative journalist and engineer, Mattu will examine how government agencies and private companies, despite their publicly stated commitment to consumer privacy, use technology to surveil vulnerable people without their express knowledge. He will reverse engineer systems to reveal their true functions, going beyond public statements and press releases to uncover what’s really happening behind black box technologies.
Simon Ostrovsky is a Special Correspondent for PBS NewsHour and an investigative journalist best known for his coverage of the Crimea crisis and the war in eastern Ukraine for which he was nominated for two Emmys. He won a DuPont Award from Columbia University in 2015 for his “Selfie Soldiers” documentary, which tracked Russian soldiers in Ukraine through their social media posts, and an Emmy Award in 2014 as a producer of VICE on HBO. Ostrovsky has covered extensively the countries of the former Soviet Union, where he witnessed five revolutions and four wars. He has served as South Caucasus Bureau Chief for Agence France Presse and as an investigative reporter at CNN. His work also has appeared on the BBC and CBS News’ “60 Minutes.” @SimonOstrovsky
Modern Mythology: How Disinformation Bends Reality and How to Stop It
In a four-part series for PBS NewsHour Weekend, Ostrovsky will explore cases from modern history in which powerful disinformation campaigns played a major role and changed the course of events around the globe. The series will explore these phenomena and look for solutions to the problem of misinformation in the digital age that are grounded in science.
Elizabeth Scheltens is a Senior Editorial Producer for Vox, where she has been a member of the video team since 2015. Her videos have touched on economic inequality, climate change, sustainable foodways, and more. Based in Columbus, Ohio, she is committed to finding ways to strengthen journalism in the Midwest that reflects the diverse communities that call the region home. Scheltens attended the University of Missouri for graduate school in journalism and previously taught elementary school in the Mississippi Delta. She holds a B.A. in political science from Kenyon College. @lizscheltens
Climate Resilience in the Great Lakes Region
For nearly 300 years, the Indigenous communities of the Great Lakes region have watched and resisted as European immigrants and their descendants reshaped the land they call home. Today, they’re fighting a new and daunting battle against climate change on behalf of the world’s largest freshwater ecosystem. Working with Vox, Scheltens will use short-form documentary film to highlight how the region’s various tribes and bands are fighting for their traditions, holding governments and corporations accountable, and creating a blueprint for a more sustainable future.
Kat Stafford is a National Investigative Writer and Global Investigations Correspondent at The Associated Press, where she investigates how structural racism has fueled inequity in America. She previously was an investigative reporter at The Detroit Free Press. Her reporting has prompted city legislation, policy changes, congressional reviews and federal and state criminal investigations. Stafford is vice president of the Investigative Reporters and Editors’ Board of Directors and deputy chair of the National Association of Black Journalists’ Print Task Force. She was a 2019 Ida B. Wells Investigative Fellow for Type Investigations and the Society of Professional Journalists’ 2017 Young Journalist of the Year for its Detroit chapter. She attended Eastern Michigan University. @kat__stafford
From Birth to Death: How Generations of Black Americans Have Faced a Lifetime of Disparities
The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have been felt worldwide, but in the United States, the ongoing crisis has taken a disproportionately heavy toll among Black populations. The pandemic is just the latest example of the disadvantages Black Americans have encountered in the face of numerous systemic disparities and inequities, the causes of which date back centuries. From the womb to the final breath, the Black experience in America is marked by higher-than-average infant and maternal mortality rates, higher incidence of chronic ailments like asthma, diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease, lower access to adequate medical care, and lower overall life expectancy. Reporting for The Associated Press, Stafford will explore the root causes and impacts of these and other racial disparities in American life and examine efforts to address them through public policy and political action.