Documentary Screening “The Jewish Underground”

A documentary screening and conversation with Shai Gal and Jim Burnstein

November 4, 2019 | 2:30 p.m.

Annenberg Auditorium
735 S State St, Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Free and open to the public.

Refreshments will be provided. 
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In the early 1980s, a network of right-wing settlers plotted to blow up the Dome of the Rock, the oldest existing Islamic monument situated on the most volatile site in the Middle East, the Temple Mount. Arrested in 1984 by the Israeli secret service Shin Bet, the conspirators were found to be responsible for several other attacks against Palestinians, including a series of car bomb attacks against West Bank mayors and schemes to blow-up civilian buses at rush-hour. Shai Gal’s documentary recounts the events surrounding their case and reveals the ties between the convicted plotters and leaders of the current Israeli government. Join us for a viewing and stay for a conversation with the documentary’s filmmaker, Shai Gal, and U-M’s director of screenwriting program, Jim Burnstein.

Watch the trailer  “The Jewish Underground


About the Filmmaker:

Shai Gal is an Israeli filmmaker and investigative TV journalist. He was a correspondent for Channel 2 (Israel) and a 2012-2013 Knight-Wallace Fellow studying how extremists control the lives of others.

About the Moderator:

Jim Burnstein is a screenwriter, professor and director of the screenwriting program at the University of Michigan. He managed to beat the odds and make it as a successful Hollywood screenwriter without moving from his home in Plymouth, Michigan. Burnstein’s screen credits include “Renaissance Man,” the 1994 comedy directed by Penny Marshall and starring Danny DeVito; “D3: The Mighty Ducks” (1996-1997); “Ruffian,” the 2007 drama starring Sam Shepard co-written with Garrett Schiff of Los Angeles for ABC and ESPN; and “Love and Honor” (2013) starring Liam Hemsworth and Teresa Palmer, also written with Schiff.

The Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy is a co-sponsor of the event.

Wallace House Presents “Held Hostage: Ensuring the Safe Return of Americans Held Captive Abroad”

“Held Hostage: Ensuring the Safe Return of Americans Held Captive Abroad” with Joel Simon of the Committee to Protect Journalists and Diane Foley of the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation

October 7, 2019 | 4 p.m.

Annenberg Auditorium
735 S State St, Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Free and open to the public.
Watch the discussion here»



On November 22, 2012, American journalist James W. Foley was kidnapped in northern Syria while reporting for GlobalPost and Agence France-Presse. On August 19, 2014, ISIS posted a video online showing his murder. It’s estimated that hundreds of American journalists, humanitarian aid workers, business people and tourists are taken captive by foreign governments, terrorist groups and criminal organizations each year. How can we better understand U.S. hostage policy and the risks and challenges of bringing our fellow Americans home? Join us for a discussion on negotiating with hostile actors, growing threats to journalists and aid workers both at home and abroad, and the safety measures they should undertake.

Watch the trailer to the documentary “Jim: The James Foley Story


Joel Simon is the executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. He has written widely on media issues, contributing to Slate, Columbia Journalism Review, The New York Review of Books, World Policy Journal, Asahi Shimbun, and The Times of India. He has led numerous international missions to advance press freedom. His book, “The New Censorship: Inside the Global Battle for Media Freedom,” was published in November 2014.

Diane Foley is the mother of five children, including freelance conflict journalist James W. Foley. She founded the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation (JWFLF) in September 2014, less than a month after his public execution. Foley is currently serving as the President and Executive Director of JWFLF. Since 2014, she has led the foundation’s efforts to fund the start of Hostage US and the international Alliance for a Culture of Safety. In 2015, she actively participated in the National Counterterrorism Center hostage review which culminated in the Presidential Policy Directive-30. This directive re-organized U.S. efforts on behalf of Americans taken hostage abroad into an interagency Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell, Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs and a White House Hostage Response Group. Foley worked first as a community health nurse and then as a family nurse practitioner for 18 years. She received both her undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of New Hampshire in Durham.



Margaux Ewen is the executive director of the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to advocate for the freedom of all Americans held hostage or unjustly detained abroad and promote the safety of journalists worldwide. Prior to joining the Foley Foundation, Ewen was North America director for Reporters Without Borders. She has two law degrees from the Sorbonne in France and from The George Washington University in the U.S.

Michigan Radio and the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy are a co-sponsors of the event.

Q & A with Wallace House Director Lynette Clemetson and Hovey Speaker McKenzie Funk

McKenzie Funk’s seven-year old son, Wilson,
carefully inspected the Hovey Bowl presented
by Wallace House Director Lynette Clemetson.

McKenzie Funk came to the Knight-Wallace Fellowship in the fall of 2011 to study the paradigm of endless economic growth and to unpack years of reporting on how governments and corporations were profiting from global warming. His 2014 book, “Windfall,” won a PEN Literary Award and was named a best book of the year by several publications. He returned to Wallace House in September to give the 34th annual Graham Hovey Lecture, and he sat down with Lynette Clemetson before the event to discuss writing on and living with the topic of climate change.


Clemetson: Discussions of climate change are most often presented through science or politics, or the clash between the two. What made you want to explore it through financial gain?

Funk: I wasn’t a climate change person. I grew up being interested in environmental issues because of my parents and where I grew up in Oregon. But precisely for the reasons you describe – that it’s a political fight or a scientific question – as a narrative writer, I had shied away from it.

Clemetson: And what changed that?

Funk: It was 2006, and I was living in New York trying to get my freelance career going. I got an email from the Environmental News Network, a short one or two line item about something called a sovereignty operation up in northern Canada, a group of Canadian Rangers there to defend the Northwest Passage. And I thought, “that’s really weird.” They mentioned a climate connection, and it just sounded very different from everything else I’d heard about people reacting to climate change. I called the PR people at the Canadian Forces to ask if I could go along on the next one. They were overjoyed because this was basically aimed at the United States. They wanted the world to know that the Canadian military was up there staking a claim to the melting North.

Clemetson: And what made you want to follow the thread and keep reporting?

Funk: In the background of all of this, “An Inconvenient Truth” had just come out. There was an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report coming up the next year. There was the prospect of climate legislation coming up in the Senate. It was all sort of bubbling. My story from the Canadian Forces expedition was published in Harpers in August 2007. Around the same time, the Russian government sent two mini subs down to the bottom of the ocean at the North Pole and planted a Russian flag, and suddenly people were saying, “Wait a minute, what’s going on?

Clemetson: You approach the global crisis through three broad themes – melt, drought, deluge. And your themes are starkly organized around geography.

Funk: Yes, the north versus the global south, high latitudes versus middle latitudes. It’s obvious if you pull back and think about it. The northern countries are the ones that have been wealthiest. We not only have enough in our war chest, as it were, to survive some of these impacts, but we can, in some cases, benefit. And of course, we’re the biggest historic emitters of the carbon that’s causing this problem. That remains true even as we outsource our industrial production to China. We are the end users of much of that carbon.

Clemetson: In the weeks leading up to your talk, this topic seemed to be ever present. President Trump was angling to buy Greenland. The Bahamas was devastated by a hurricane. Do you see this issue everywhere now?

Funk: Once you see it, it’s everywhere. We just moved to Oregon, to a town called Ashland, which is at the very bottom of the state, near the border of California, not so far from Paradise, California. The town is famous for its Shakespeare Festival, which brings in tourists. The economy is basically built on how nice the town is. When we arrived, it had the worst air quality in the entire country because it was ringed with wildfires. It’s something that’s happened consistently summer after summer for the last several years. This part of southern Oregon is just burning, and the smoke permeates everything. My wife Jenny had to stay to attend school but the kids and I, we dumped our bags, our boxes and left immediately, because we were wearing smoke masks out on the street. It was like this apocalyptic new reality.

Clemetson: And how did you feel about leaving?

Funk: I was very aware that we had the privilege to be able to pack up, get in our car and drive somewhere. There were many families in the region that couldn’t get away and were just suffering through the smoke. Businesses were collapsing. It was actually the first time that it became real for my life. I started to think strategically about moving north, back to Seattle, back to a place where, if you look at the impacts, it will be safer.

Clemetson: Your book paints a picture in which the people who can afford to win will win. And people who can’t will lose.

Funk: Yeah. The gaps between rich and poor, between dark and light, between black, brown and white are set to grow unless we’re really careful about this. It’s a justice story essentially. The hope is that if we can more collectively recognize the systemic issues, the more we will take steps to adapt more fairly. A lot of the justice questions have to do with how we adapt and who we adapt for. We’ve done so little in terms of making cities more resilient and in terms of thinking about how we’re going to prepare for the storms or heatwaves or fires. There is still a lot of room to make our responses more equitable.

Clemetson: Some people come to the fellowship to pursue something new. You were already deeply involved in this reporting and in writing a book when you arrived. So how did you approach your time?

Funk: There was a Great Lakes Water Wars class that was outstanding, and Andy Hoffman’s class in the Business School on how corporations were confronting climate change. A lot of the section in the book about Shell Oil was informed by that class. But I also spent a lot of time in the fellowship on seemingly unproductive things. Jenny was pregnant. We spent time hiking in the Bird Hills Nature Area, canoeing on the Huron River. And I spent a lot of time chasing my dog.

Clemetson: Chasing your dog?

Funk: We lived in the house that Matt Power had lived in when he was a Fellow. It was donut shaped, with a central staircase. It was perfect for running in circles. And I would just chase the dog around and around, for a really long time, every day. It was great. It was one of the most important things, just having time to think. To think about what I had gathered and to put it all together.


Wallace House Presents McKenzie Funk on Climate Change

The 34th Graham Hovey Lecture

“Seeing Green: The Business and Inequity of Climate Change” with McKenzie Funk ’12

September 10, 2019 | 5 p.m.

Wallace House Gardens
620 Oxford Road, Ann Arbor

Welcome remarks by Mark S. Schlissel, President, University of Michigan

Watch the discussion here »

While the issue of climate change rises in importance to the U.S. electorate, players in energy, banking and business are cashing in on the environmental crisis. McKenzie Funk, 2012 Knight-Wallace Fellow, is the author of “Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming.” Join him for a critical discussion of drought, rising seas, profiteering, and the hardest truth about climate change: It’s not equally bad for everyone.

Funk writes for Harper’s, National Geographic, Rolling Stone, Outside, The New York Times Magazine and the London Review of Books. His 2014 book “Windfall” won a PEN Literary Award and was named a book of the year by The New Yorker, Mother Jones, Salon and A National Magazine Award and Livingston Award finalist, Funk won the Oakes Prize for Environmental Journalism for his reporting on the melting Arctic and has received fellowships at the Open Society Foundations and MacDowell Colony for his forthcoming work on data and privacy.

Funk studied philosophy and comparative literature at Swarthmore College and capitalism and the paradigm of endless growth as a 2012 Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. He speaks five languages and is a native of the Pacific Northwest, where he lives with his wife and sons.

The annual Graham Hovey Lecture recognizes a Knight-Wallace journalist whose career exemplifies the benefits of a fellowship at the University of Michigan and whose ensuing work is at the forefront of national conversation. The event is named for the late Graham Hovey, director of the fellowship program from 1980 to 1986 and a distinguished journalist for The New York Times.

Birgit Rieck, Pursuing Her Dream


by Lynette Clemetson ’10

After 19 years of working with journalists eager to define the next bold steps in their careers, Birgit Rieck, our beloved Associate Director of the Knight-Wallace Fellowships, has decided to embark on a bold new journey for herself. She’s leaving Wallace House to reconnect with her life back in Germany and to pursue new possibilities for her abundant skills. Her last day with us will be Friday, August 23. 

It’s difficult to imagine Wallace House without Birgit. For hundreds of people who have walked through our doors, myself included, she has been an essential part of the Wallace House experience, a vital point of contact who made everything possible. Far beyond the planning of seminars, workshops and international travel, Birgit – with her infectious laugh and infallible German efficiency – created much of the warmth and welcome of the special atmosphere here. 

Her fingerprints and sensibility dot every facet of our Wallace House programs, from the aesthetic beauty of the Hovey Lecture in the back garden, to the renovation of the Wallace House library and creation of our editing suite, to the hands-on fellowship workshops on writing, editing and audio/visual storytelling. She has been a friend, mentor, travel companion and confidant to countless journalists who have entrusted us with a year of their lives. 

Birgit joined the Wallace House staff in 2000 to manage the Livingston Awards for Young Journalists and in 2004 changed positions to manage the Knight-Wallace Fellowships.

Before coming to Michigan, Birgit studied anthropology (Latin American studies) and English literature at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-University in Bonn. She was awarded a Master’s degree in cultural anthropology (African studies) and education from Johannes-Gutenberg-University in Mainz after completing fieldwork in Uganda and Rome. This fall, she will complete the Media Transformation Challenge, a one-year executive leadership program at Harvard’s Kennedy School. 

As the associate director of the program, she managed daily activities and herded unruly groups of fellows on outings from Flint to Istanbul. She enlivened our intellectual pursuits with pop-up tango lessons, wine tastings and horseback riding. She made the hard work and small details of the fellowship look effortless. She could be laughing at a Thursday night dinner, quietly slip away to arrange group flights for 25 (with multiple return dates!), then be back downstairs for a toast and dessert, without breaking a sweat.

Anyone who has been part of the Knight-Wallace Fellowship knows the transformative power of stepping back to evaluate your career, your dreams and your aspirations. In life there are sometimes moments of clarity when you know it is time for something new, even if you’re not quite certain yet what it is. It is part of our driving philosophy at Wallace House to honor those moments and to respond seriously to the possibilities they present. Those leaps take guts, belief and heart – all traits Birgit possesses in abundance.  Though we truly cannot fathom the place without her, we know that wonderful surprises await.

To state the obvious, Birgit is irreplaceable. We will not be filling her position any time soon. Instead I will use the next year to evaluate the best structure for Wallace House moving forward. We have a Knight-Wallace Reunion coming up in September 2020. Birgit has agreed to come back then, so we can have a spectacular party and aptly celebrate all she has meant to us. 

Lynette Clemetson is Director of Wallace House. She was a 2010 Knight-Wallace Fellow. You can reach her at or Follow her on Twitter @lclemetson

The Bells, Whistles (and Rockets!) of Fellowship Life

Sharilyn Hufford ‘19 was able to figure out
many ways to “let go” during her time as a
Knight-Wallace Fellow. In addition to the
U of M carillon, she also had the chance to
play on the largest carillon in Central and
South America on the class’ international
news trip to São Paulo.

A hand-lettered sign in a neighborhood coffee shop greeted
me with a bit of wisdom on my first morning in Ann Arbor: “Sometimes you just have to let go and see what happens.” If there ever was a time to let go, this was it. The academic year was about to start, and I had an ambitious study plan for the fellowship – creating high impact news products and best practices for workflow in product design. But I still hadn’t figured out how I would approach the challenge in the classroom.

I’d already combed through the 464 pages of the fall course catalog, searching for classes to teach me how other industries were using processes, systems and technology to transform their work. With so much to choose from, I wasn’t worried about filling a schedule. I knew I would find something that aligned with my study plan. After all I had a ‘short’ list of roughly 25 classes. (OK, I might have been trying too hard.)

The problem was my fear of not finding the right classes, of missing out on something or somehow not getting enough out of my precious time on campus. Could I follow the sign’s advice and just let go? It didn’t take long to find out.

At our very first orientation meeting, I spotted a poster on the way to tour Burton Memorial Tower: “Bells on the brain? Take Carillon 150. Play the U-M bell towers!”

The University of Michigan has two carillons out of only 600 in the world, one in the middle of Central Campus in Burton Tower and one in the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Tower on North Campus. And heck yeah, I wanted to play them.

The other students – a mix of about 20 graduate and undergraduate students – weren’t just music majors. They were studying everything from engineering and public health to community action and social change. We all had some kind of music training or background before signing up for carillon.

All the years of piano lessons and band had set me up for this opportunity, but the carillon required learning new techniques, like coordinating hands and feet, and setting aside time to experiment with new sounds and strengthen new skills.

Once I started spending time in the carillon practice rooms, I realized I had forgotten what it was like to learn something new – to have a beginner’s mind. It was fun. It was humbling and frustrating at times. It was also unexpectedly restorative.

Taking that first leap into the carillon class gave me the courage to try several other seemingly risky classes. I joined a team of mechanical engineering and design science students in a class in which we had to take a physical product from idea to prototype to verification through a series of analytical design processes. It was a crash course in engineering analysis and creativity and also design, psychology, marketing and economics. I learned quantitative methods for idea generation and selection, evaluating designs and anticipating failure modes in designs. In the process of applying those models to my team’s project, I gained new frameworks for thinking about how to create stories and news products.

I took a course where I learned about electronic health records systems and public health records, and the issues surrounding deployment and development of health technology. I have a new appreciation for the planning that goes into software rollouts, launches and upgrades having heard from professionals who manage technology that provides critical care for human beings.

By the time winter semester started, I was ready for more challenges. Someone recommended a course that was an introduction to rocket science.

That’s right, rocket science! Rocket Science might seem like an unusual choice for a journalist, but its language permeates the way our technology –oriented culture describes product development and innovation work: moonshots, launches, missions. And it encapsulated everything that I aimed for as a Fellow – to stretch and reach for new discoveries. To understand more fully why journalism is the work I had devoted my career to, to embrace others who are on the same mission and lift them up, too.

Oh, yeah, and to have a little fun.

The time in practice rooms, in classes, and with other Fellows and my family helped me start letting go of old patterns and routines. Learning a new instrument – or new technology – or taking on a new role requires practicing, stretching into a new repertoire and strengthening new skills.

Now that our time together in Michigan has ended, I think I’ve found the secret equation to the fellowship. It isn’t really about any one class or the specifics of the study plan. It’s about escaping the atmospheric distortion of the day-to-day journalism grind so you can see in different ways and explore new possibilities with a little less gravity. I’m excited to keep exploring – to let go and see what happens.

Sharilyn Hufford ‘19 is Deputy Editor, Platforms, for The New York Times.

Welcome to Korea, My Home


On our second day in South Korea we toured Camp Humphreys, the newly constructed U.S. Army Garrison, 40 miles south of Seoul. The massive military encampment covers more than 3,000 acres and is very American, dotted with Subway sandwich shops and suburban looking homes.

Seungjin Choi (front row, third from left) was proud to be a tour guide for
his fellow Fellows. The class is pictured at BulguksaTemple in Gyeungju,
South Korea, an ancient relic of the Silla Dynasty and a Unesco World
Heritage site.

To balance out the day, I arranged for a very Korean dinner at a restaurant specializing in tofu. The restaurant had more tofu dishes than most Americans could imagine. The experience, simple for the average Korean, was exciting and a little overwhelming for our group. From the moment the first dish came out, I fielded many questions: “SJ, can you explain how you eat this food?” “What sauce should I use?” “Can I ask for a fork?” With a little explanation, everyone enjoyed the tofu delicacies, and I had a chance to enjoy my fellow Fellows discovering something new.

For three weeks before the trip, I was communicating with former Korean Fellows seeking advice on planning the itinerary. I was worried about making the right plans and choosing the right places to visit. There were disagreements, as I explained, “I don’t want to show my Fellows the negative aspects of Korea.” But one of the former Fellows corrected me. “They are all journalists. They can see everything, even the things we may want to hide.” He was right. It was not just a trip; it was a journalism trip. I needed to present Korean society as it is, not as I wished it to be.

Our trip coincided with a historical moment as President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jung-Un were meeting in Vietnam. The outcome would have significant political, economic and social implications for South Korea. In addition, the final day of our visit marked the 100th anniversary of the March 1st Movement, a national holiday commemorating Korea’s fight for independence from Japan. It was important to help my fellow journalists understand the political tension still playing out in Northeast Asia.

Certainly we should explore Korea’s economic rise, but we should also discuss corporate corruption and the negative impact of the Chaebol, the Korean term for powerful family-run conglomerates like Samsung, Hyundai and LG. While it would be fun to explore K-Pop and the growing influence of the Korean entertainment industry, it was important to discuss issues like gender discrimination, Korea’s #MeToo Movement, and teen depression and suicide.

How could we accomplish it all in five days? In the end, we struck a balance. We saw the film “Mal-Mo-E” about efforts to save the Korean language during the Japanese occupation. We learned the complex, centuries old geopolitics of East Asia from Dr. Hahm Chaibong, president of the Asan Institute for Policy Studies. We examined the conflict between North and South Korea during a visit to the Joint Forces Naval Command complex.  And we were reminded of the familiar struggle to support independent journalism from two start-up media outlets, one of which has since announced its closure.

We also had fun. We peered down at the city from a dizzying observation deck near the top of the 123rd floor of the Lotte World Tower and stood with a crowd of screaming teenagers to watch
a live taping of a popular K-Pop TV show. We ate live octopus at Noryangjin Fish Market and relaxed at a Korean spa. We learned how to brew Makgeolli, traditional Korean rice wine, which will be ready to drink just in time for a visit from the class of 2020.

As the Fellows learned new things, I discovered new things while looking at my country through their experiences. I never paid attention to how tofu dishes are cooked because it is so familiar to me. Looking at Korean society while traveling with the Fellows, I realized stark generational differences between Koreans that I had never considered deeply before. I learned to look at Korea more objectively and this will certainly impact my work.

Traveling my country with the Knight-Wallace Fellows was an unforgettable experience. I still have many things that I am eager to show, and I hope that the program will return for years to come.

See you in Korea!

Seungjin Choi is a 2019 Knight-Wallace Fellow and Reporter, Maeil Business Newspaper (Seoul, South Korea).


How to Use Audio to Break Assumptions and Create Empathy

Livingston Awards winners Lindsey Smith and Kate Wells speak at 2019 IRE Houston

June 14 | 3:45 p.m.
Texas F
2019 IRE Houston


Meet the 2019 winners of the Livingston Awards for Young Journalists. Michigan Radio and NPR’s podcast “Believed” moved beyond the headlines for an intimate look at how a detective, prosecutor and army of survivors brought down former U.S.A. Gymnastics doctor and serial sex offender, Larry Nassar. Learn how Kate Wells and Lindsey Smith investigated Nassar’s assaults through the voices and experiences of his victims and their families to capture listeners and hit the number one spot on the iTunes chart.



  • Lindsey Smith, 2019 Livingston Award winner for local reporting. Michigan Radio’s Investigative Reporter. Mom of two girls. Lover of The Great Lakes. Lindsey Smith teamed up with Kate Wells on “Believed,” a podcast exploring how former sports doctor Larry Nassar got away with child sexual abuse for decades. The podcast was awarded a Livingston Award and Peabody, two firsts for the station. Smith’s 2015 documentary, “Not Safe to Drink,” led Michigan Radio’s award-winning coverage of the Flint water crisis.
  • Kate Wells, 2019 Livingston Award winner for local reporting. Kate’s a reporter at Michigan Radio and the co-host of the Livingston Award-winning NPR podcast, Believed. @KateLouiseWells


Sponsored by the Knight Foundation

2019 Livingston Winners Announced

2019 Livingston Award winners (counter-clockwise from top right): Kate Wells, Lindsey Smith, Chris Outcalt, Davey Alba and Rob Hiaasen, recipient of the Richard M. Clurman Award


Stories about the women who brought down U.S.A. Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, the murder of a gang leader at the highest security prison in the U.S., and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s Facebook-fueled rise to power won the Livingston Awards today. The $10,000 prizes honor outstanding achievement in local, national and international reporting and recognize the best journalism by professionals under age 35 across of all platforms, including text, visual and audio storytelling.


The Livingston Awards also honored the late Rob Hiaasen of the Capital Gazette with the Richard M. Clurman Award for mentoring. The $5,000 prize is given each year to an experienced journalist who has played an active role in guiding and nurturing the careers of young reporters. The prize is named for the late Richard M. Clurman, former chief of correspondents for Time-Life News Service and architect of the Livingston Awards.


Funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the University of Michigan to support the vital role of a free and independent press, the awards bolster the work of young reporters, create the next generation of journalism leaders and mentors, and advance civic engagement around powerful storytelling. Other sponsors include the Indian Trial Charitable Foundation, the Mollie Parnis Livingston Foundation, Christiane Amanpour, and Dr. Gil Omenn and Martha Darling.


Livingston Awards national judges Anna Quindlen, author, Ken Auletta of The New Yorker and Bret Stephens of The New York Times, and Livingston Awards regional judge, Stephen Henderson of WDET (Detroit) introduced the winners today at a luncheon in New York City.


“This year’s winners represent exceptional reporting and storytelling, illuminating both personal journeys and systemic failings,” says Livingston Awards Director Lynette Clemetson. “Whether through ubiquitous social platforms, elite athletics or prison gangs, these stories expand public understanding of how powerful networks are manipulated and exploited.”


The 2019 winners for work published in 2018 are:


Local Reporting

Lindsey Smith and Kate Wells of Michigan Radio and NPR for the podcast series “Believed,” a haunting and multifaceted account of U.S.A. Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar’s belated arrest and an intimate look at how an army of women – a detective, a prosecutor and survivors – brought down the serial sex offender.


“Big stories wind up told in broad strokes. Instead of amplifying their power, that sometimes makes them less accessible as human drama. Lindsey Smith and Kate Wells of Michigan Radio decided to go the other way, which is why their pieces on Larry Nassar grabbed me by the throat,” says Anna Quindlen. “They illuminate, not the judicial process, but the people: the uber-mom who won’t back down from a fight, the father who never suspected and whose torment suffuses his voice, the investigators and, of course, the survivors. These reporters use the small details of a big story to give it a human scale.”


National Reporting

Chris Outcalt of The Atavist Magazine for “Murder at the Alcatraz of the Rockies,” a riveting narrative of a prison murder committed under the gaze of security cameras, a rookie FBI agent and the inner workings of the Mexican Mafia, a criminal prison organization spawned in California juvenile facilities in the 1950s.


“The best journalism doesn’t always cover the best-known stories. Chris Outcalt’s extraordinary reporting introduces readers to sides of American life few people will ever see: life within the country’s most secure prison, an infamous gang’s rules of violence and honor, and the decade-long investigation and trial of a killing that is nothing like the open-and-shut case it first appears to be,” says Bret Stephens. “Outcalt’s writing grips the reader’s attention from the first sentence to the last and doesn’t waste a word. It reminds us at every turn of the humanity of our most dangerous felons, the complexity of their motives, and the difficulty of ascertaining truth and doing justice.”


International Reporting

Davey Alba of Buzzfeed News for “How Duterte Used Facebook to Fuel the Philippine Drug War,” a sweeping investigation of Facebook’s breakneck proliferation in the Philippines and how President Rodrigo Duterte’s regime weaponized the social media platform to spread fake news, imprison dissenters and murder innocent Filipinos.


“Davey Alba’s reporting brings home the immense power of digital platforms. We see how Facebook created the ultimate walled garden in the Philippines by subsidizing the Internet, thus making Facebook synonymous not just with getting online but as the primary source of news,” says Ken Auletta. “By relying on algorithms rather than humans to police news and content, Facebook ignored how fake news went viral and was used by a corrupt government to punish opponents, sometimes with death. Rather than hire editors to police false news, Facebook engineers hubristically believed their algorithms would do the job, thus saving money. This is what they’ve done around the world, with sometimes bloody consequences.”


Mentoring Award

The late Rob Hiaasen was honored with the Richard M. Clurman Award for his newsroom commitment to counseling, nurturing and inspiring young journalists. Hiaasen was the assistant editor and columnist at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland and a lecturer at the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism. In June 2018, he was killed in a mass shooting at the Capital Gazette offices, along with Gerald Fischman, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters, in the deadliest attack on journalists in the United States on record. In a video tribute at the luncheon, former colleagues spoke about Hiaasen’s influence on their writing, approach to storytelling and his encouragement of young journalists.


In addition to Quindlen, Stephens and Auletta, the Livingston national judging panel includes Christiane Amanpour of CNNi and PBS; Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune; Dean Baquet of The New York Times; John Harris of Politico; María Elena Salinas, independent journalist and producer; and Kara Swisher of Recode.


About the Livingston Awards:

The Livingston Awards for Young Journalists are the most prestigious honor for professional journalists under the age of 35 and are the largest all-media, general reporting prizes in American journalism. Entries from print, online, visual and audio storytelling are judged against one another, as technology blurs distinctions between traditional platforms. The $10,000 prizes are awarded annually for local, national and international reporting. The Livingston Awards are a program of Wallace House at the University of Michigan, home to the Knight-Wallace Fellowships for Journalists and the Wallace House Presents event series. Learn more at


About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

The Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit:

University of Michigan Names 2019-2020 Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellows

Knight-Wallace Fellows 2019-2020

The University of Michigan has named 17 journalists as Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellows for the 2019-20 academic year. The accomplished group includes journalists from countries facing extreme political upheaval, cities facing transformational change and organizations confronting shifting public attitudes toward news consumption and the value of the press.

“At a time when the safety and freedom of the press are under threat and newsroom resources are continuing to shrink, it is especially important to provide journalists the space and support to pursue solutions, ” said Wallace House Director Lynette Clemetson. “Whether sharing techniques and tools across borders, experimenting with new storytelling forms or deepening important coverage areas and building public trust, these journalists all share a commitment to forging the path forward. It is a privilege to provide them with this unique opportunity.”

Knight-Wallace Fellows spend an academic year at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor to pursue individual study plans and to engage in collaborative learning through fellowship seminars, training workshops and travel. Through twice-weekly seminars, Fellows engage with visiting journalists, eminent scholars and creative thinkers from a range of fields. Weeklong international news tours provide broader context to political, economic and social forces shaping their fields of study, and to trends and challenges facing journalism in other countries. In recent years, Fellowship classes visited South Korea, Brazil, Canada, Turkey, Argentina and Russia.

This is the 46th class of journalism fellows at the University of Michigan. The program is based at Wallace House, a gift from the late newsman Mike Wallace and his wife, Mary. Knight-Wallace Fellows receive a stipend of $75,000 for the eight-month academic year. The program is funded through endowment gifts by foundations, news organizations and individuals committed to journalism’s role in fostering an informed and engaged public.

Fellows and their study projects are:

Tommy Andres, Senior Special Projects Producer, Marketplace, American Public Media. Utilizing transmedia production models to craft a single narrative storytelling experience across platforms

Ana Avila, Deputy Director, Newsweek en Español (Mexico City, Mexico). Measuring, tracking and documenting threats and dangers to Mexican journalists for safer newsroom practices

Niala Boodhoo, Host, “The 21st,” Illinois Public Media. Developing a sustainable, replicable business plan for local news podcasts

Maria Byrne, Senior Producer, BBC News (Brussels, Belgium). Expanding coverage of China’s growing ambitions in the world

Jacob Carah, Investigative Reporter and Producer, “Frontline,”  PBS, Flint Beat, Flintside (Flint, Michigan), and The Detroit News. Developing new visual design through data analysis, coding and documentary film

Janet Cho, Business Reporter, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio) and others. How words and images influence public perception about immigrants and U.S. immigration policy

Chantel Jennings, Senior Writer, The Athletic. Forging editorial partnerships between local news organizations and college newsrooms

Tracie Mauriello, Washington Bureau Chief, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Experimentation with points of view and narration techniques in literary journalism

Maurício Meireles, Reporter and Columnist, Folha de São Paulo (São Paulo, Brazil). Digital approaches to covering arts and culture

Marielba Núñez, Writer, Editor and Regional Coordinator, Crónica Uno (Caracas, Venezuela). New narrative strategies to report on the changing identities of migrants

Karen Rouse, Reporter, WNYC News, New York Public Radio. Improving strategies for newsrooms to recruit and develop journalists from underrepresented groups for long term success and leadership

Jet Schouten, Reporter, ICIJ and AVROTROS Public Broadcasting TV (Amsterdam, Netherlands). Deepening the understanding of truth and news in constructive journalism

Kwang Young Shin, Head of Criminal Justice Team, Dong-A Ilbo (Seoul, South Korea). Using digital storytelling to maximize the reach of Korea’s legacy media

Patrick Symmes, Contributing Editor, Harper’s Magazine,  Outside and others. A comparative study of authoritarianism and its influence on the press

Eileen Truax, Author and Reporter, The New York Times Edición Español and others. Developing global connections, shared networks and resources for journalists covering migration

Elodie Vialle, Head of  Journalism and Technology Desk, Reporters Without Borders (Paris, France). Building tools and training to counter online harassment and threats against female journalists

Elliott Woods, Writer and Photographer, Texas Monthly, The Guardian and others. Covering ongoing wars in an age of media contraction and declining military service rates

Read more on the Class of 2020 Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellows

The selection committee included Wallace House Director Lynette Clemetson and Associate Director Birgit Rieck; former fellows Teresa Frontado (Digital Director, WLRN, Miami), Kate Linebaugh (Deputy National Editor, The Wall Street Journal), Mosi Secret (Investigative and Literary Journalist) and Yvonne Simons (News Director, KATU-TV, Portland, Oregon); and University of Michigan Professors Bobbi Low (Environment and Sustainability) and Carl Simon (Mathematics, Complex Systems and Public Policy).

About Wallace House
Committed to fostering excellence in journalism, Wallace House at the University of Michigan is home to the Knight-Wallace Fellowships, the Livingston Awards and the Wallace House Presents event series, programs that recognize exceptional journalists for their work, leadership and potential.