Public Engagement 2020-2021

During the 2020-2021 academic year, Wallace House teamed with partners across campus to bring conversations into the virtual public space.

Past Events | Fall 2020 – Winter 2021

Unearthing Tulsa: 100 Years Later

Unearthing Tulsa: 100 Years Later

A Conversation with Brent Staples, Fred Conrad and Scott Elsworth

Monday, May 17, 2021

4 p.m. ET

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Watch Here on May 17

Maybe you’ve heard of the Tulsa Race Massacre. It was one of the most horrific examples of white supremacist terrorism in the history of the United States and knowledge of the event was actively suppressed for over fifty years.

From May 31 to June 1, 1921, the Massacre saw the murder of hundreds of Black residents of the Greenwood neighborhood—a bustling and vibrant community known then as Black Wall Street—and more than one-thousand homes and businesses burned to the ground.

As we approach the 100-year anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, UMMA and Wallace House invite you to revisit a moment in 1999 when the New York Times Magazine published Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Brent Staples‘ article “Unearthing a Riot,” which was the most significant national media coverage of the event at the time. Portraits of survivors made by renowned photojournalist and U-M alumnus Fred Conrad accompanied this important essay.

In this program, Staples and Conrad will be joined by U-M professor, best-selling author, and historian Scott Ellsworth, author of newly published book The Ground Breaking: An American City and Its Search for Justice, who will facilitate a conversation that will expand our understanding of what has been involved in making the history of Tulsa more visible and, by extension, illuminating the ever-present reality of racial terror and the resiliency of Black communities in our country.

This program is presented by UMMA as part of their ongoing commitment to anti-racist action, and organized in collaboration with professor Scott Ellsworth, a longtime Museum partner, and the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies with support from Wallace House.

Raney Aronson-Rath

Raney Aronson-Rath: A Conversation

Moderated by Lynette Clemetson

Friday, April 2, 2021

8 p.m. ET

Watch Here on April 2

Raney Aronson-Rath is the executive producer of FRONTLINE, PBS’ flagship investigative journalism series, and a leading voice on the future of journalism. Aronson-Rath oversees FRONTLINE’s acclaimed reporting on air and online and directs the series’ editorial vision, executive producing over 20 documentaries each year on critical issues facing the country and world. Under her leadership, FRONTLINE has earned two Oscar nominations, and has won every major award in broadcast journalism, including Peabody Awards, Emmy Awards, an Institutional Peabody Award, and the first Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Gold Baton awarded in a decade. She also serves as a judge for the Livingston Awards for Young Journalists. 

Aronson-Rath has led an ongoing charge for transparency in journalism – including throughthe FRONTLINE Transparency Project, an effort to open up the source material behind FRONTLINE’s reporting. She served as the sole public media representative on the Knight Commission on Trust, Media, and Democracy, a blue-ribbon panel that published a landmark report on the causes and consequences of growing distrust in democratic institutions, including the press. 

This conversation will be moderated by Lynette Clemetson, Director of Wallace House.

This program is a Penny Stamps Speaker Series Event, brought to you with support from Wallace House, Detroit Public Television and PBS Books

Domestic violent extremism: Threats, policies, and new approaches

Monday, March 29, 2021

4 p.m. ET

Register and receive link to watch

Free and open to the public. Join the conversation: #PolicyTalks

In the aftermath of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, a fierce debate has emerged in the media, academia, and public policy about the threat of domestic violent extremism in the United States and what solutions and new approaches are needed to confront this. Towsley Foundation Policymaker in Residence Javed Ali will host Janet Reitman from the New York Times Magazine and Heidi Beirich, Co-Founder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, for an in-depth conversation on these and related issues. They will explore what key factors led to the insurrection on January 6, what policy gaps were exposed in the run-up to the events, and how different approaches are needed to tackle this threat before it worsens.

This event is a Policy Talks at the Ford School and Harry A and Margaret D Towsley Foundation Lecture Series event, co-sponsored by Wallace House.

An Ounce of Prevention: Confronting Concerns about the COVID-19 Vaccine

With Nicholas St. Fleur, Knight-Wallace Reporting Fellow

Moderated by Lynette Clemetson

Thursday, March 25, 2021

11 a.m. ET

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Watch the event on Zoom

Covid-19 has wreaked havoc on our nation for almost a year. Death tolls are hitting their highest daily peak. The advent of a vaccine presents the promise of a way out of this pandemic. However, concerns over the safety of the vaccine in conjunction with the historical reservations of People of Color regarding medical research and treatment have made for a tepid response to the availability of the vaccine. What are the best options to move forward? How do we address the concerns of those reluctant to take the vaccine? Join panelists Dr. Jessie Marshall, Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan Medical School, Dr. Najibah Rehman, Medical Director, Detroit Health Department and Nicholas St. Fleur, Knight-Wallace Reporting Fellow, University of Michigan for a Town Hall Meeting as we discuss the concerns and offer solutions.

This conversation will be moderated by Lynette Clemetson, Director of Wallace House.

This event is co-sponsored by Wallace House and the University of Michigan Detroit Center.

Journalists Jorge Carrasco, Dana Priest and Laurent Richard

Inside The Cartel Project: The Power of Collaborative Investigative Journalism

With Laurent Richard, Dana Priest, Jorge Carrasco. Moderated by Lynette Clemetson.

The fourth annual Eisendrath Symposium

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

12:30 p.m. ET

Watch the event

In 2012 Mexican journalist Regina Martinez was murdered in her home. She had been reporting on the links between drug cartels, public officials and thousands of individuals who had mysteriously disappeared. Eight years later, her investigations were published simultaneously around the world as The Cartel Project.

Forbidden Stories, a nonprofit newsroom created by Laurent Richard during his year as a Knight- Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan, organized the project, secretly bringing together an international network of journalists dedicated to continuing the work of Martinez. Sixty reporters from 18 countries, followed her leads to expose a global network of Mexican drug cartels and their political connections around the world.

Join journalists Laurent Richard of Forbidden Stories, Dana Priest of The Washington Post and Jorge Carrasco of Proceso for a behind the scenes look at the global investigation and learn how collaborative journalism can keep alive the work of reporters who are silenced by threats, censorship or death.

Eric Foner and Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Eric Foner: In Conversation

Moderated by Lynette Clemetson

Friday, January 29, 2021

8 p.m. ET

How to Watch

Pausing for a moment of post-inaugural reflection, following one of our nation’s most contentious presidential elections and it’s aftermath, this conversation brings together filmmaker, scholar, journalist and cultural critic, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. with prominent historian Eric Foner to contemplate how a divided nation comes together. The two will discuss Reconstruction, the all-too-brief period following the Civil War when the United States made its first effort to become an interracial democracy. The period saw the Constitution rewritten to incorporate the ideal of racial equality, but ended as a result of a violent backlash that erased many of the gains that had been made, with consequences we still confront as a nation. The program will also preview Gates’ most recent project, “The Black Church,” which will premiere on PBS in February.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University. Professor Gates is an author and filmmaker whose work includes “Reconstruction: America after the Civil War,” and the related books, “Dark Sky Rising: Reconstruction and the Dawn of Jim Crow,” with Tonya Bolden, and “Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow.” Gates’ groundbreaking genealogy series, “Finding Your Roots,” is now in its sixth season on PBS.

Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor Emeritus of History at Columbia University, is one of this country’s most prominent historians. Professor Foner’s publications have concentrated on the intersections of intellectual, political and social history, and the history of American race relations. His books include “Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877,” winner of the Bancroft Prize, Parkman Prize, and the Los Angeles Times Book Award and “The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution.”

This conversation will be moderated by Lynette Clemetson, Director of Wallace House.

This Penny Stamps Speaker Series event and U-M Reverend Martin Luther King Junior Symposium event is part of the Democracy & Debate theme semester with support from Wallace House and the Ford School of Public Policy.

Majora Carter

Community as Corporation: Talent Retention in Low-Status America
with Majora Carter, Urban Revitalization Strategist

Moderated by Lynette Clemetson

Friday, November 6, 2020

Noon – 1:30 p.m. ET

Learn More

Watch on YouTube

Majora Carter, real estate developer, urban revitalization strategy consultant, MacArthur Fellow, and Peabody Award-winning broadcaster, will speak as part of the Real World Perspectives on Poverty Solutions series. The virtual lectures introduce the key issues regarding the causes and consequences of poverty. The series explores interdisciplinary, real-world poverty solutions from a wide variety of perspectives and encourages the formation of a broad community of learners to engage in these issues together.

This conversation will be moderated by Lynette Clemetson, Director of Wallace House.

This event is part of the Real World Perspectives on Poverty Solutions speaker series in partnership with the William Davidson Institute, Wallace House, the Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, and Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy

Nicholas Kristof

Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope
Nicholas Kristof, New York Times Columnist and Author

Friday, October 30, 2020

Noon – 1:30 p.m. ET

Learn more

Watch on YouTube

Nicholas Kristof, New York Times columnist and author, will speak as part of the Real World Perspectives on Poverty Solutions series. The virtual lectures introduce the key issues regarding the causes and consequences of poverty. The series explores interdisciplinary, real-world poverty solutions from a wide variety of perspectives and encourages the formation of a broad community of learners to engage in these issues together.

This event is part of the Real World Perspectives on Poverty Solutions speaker series in partnership with the William Davidson Institute, Wallace House, the Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, and Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy

María Elena Salinas and Bryan Llenas

María Elena Salinas and Bryan Llenas: Covering America at a Moment of Rupture

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

5 p.m. ET

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From partisan politics to diversity shortfalls in U.S. newsrooms, what does it mean for the reporters on the ground? Hear from two of America’s most prominent Latinx journalists on the value of representation and reporting in this hyper-partisan moment. Join our conversation with CBS News contributor, María Elena Salinas and Fox News national correspondent, Bryan Llenas.

The conversation will include introductions by Robert Yoon, Associate Director of Wallace House.

This is part of the Democracy & Debate Theme Semester Event Series.

Jane Coaston and Daniel Strauss

Covering the Campaign: A conversation with national political reporters

Monday, October 12, 2020

11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. ET

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Register for a reminder

Join us for a conversation with two senior political reporters, Jane Coaston of Vox and Daniel Strauss of The Guardian. Hear what it’s like to be a political reporter during an election season and what political and policy issues are at play in this presidential election. Paula Lantz, associate dean of the Ford School and James Hudak Professor of Health Policy will moderate the conversation.

This is part of the Policy Talks @ the Ford School event series and is co-sponsored by Wallace House.

Ken Burns and Isabel Wilkerson

In Conversation: Ken Burns and Isabel Wilkerson
Moderated by Lynette Clemetson

Friday, October 2, 2020

8 p.m. ET

Learn more

How to watch

Our lens on history powerfully influences how we envision and shape the future. Join two of our country’s most accomplished storytellers, documentary filmmaker, Ken Burns, and journalist and author, Isabel Wilkerson, as they discuss the complexities of the American narrative and how grappling with the past might lead us forward.

This conversation will be moderated by Lynette Clemetson, Director of Wallace House.

This is a Penny Stamps Speaker Series event and part of the Democracy & Debate Theme Semester with support from Wallace House and the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA).

Alumni Update

Staying Connected with Knight-Wallace Fellows

A favorite feature of our Wallace House Journal, our Knight-Wallace alumni updates can now be found on our website.

The Knight-Wallace Fellowship extends beyond a year of study and exploration in Ann Arbor. Fellows remain part of the Wallace House family, gathering for reunions, collaborating on post-fellowship projects and being a source of support for each other. As Associate Director of Wallace House, Robert Yoon will reach out to alumni to find more ways to keep connected and engaged with the program and fellow Fellows.

Do you have updates about a new position, award or honor, or special project or books? Alumni can complete this form and we’ll share your news here. Spouses and partners who participated as affiliates during the fellowship, we want to hear from you too.




New Jobs and Positions

Ana Avila

Ana Avila ’20

Appointed the Marsh Visiting Professor of Journalism at the University of Michigan.  She is teaching courses on minority and gender misrepresentation in journalism and covering justice struggles this semester.

Niala Boodho

Niala Boodhoo ‘20

Named host of Axios Today, a new podcast from Axios. Each weekday morning, Boodhoo and her team cover topics ranging from the White House, Congress, the economy and insights to trends shaping the world.

Janet H. Cho

Janet H. Cho ‘20

Received an AARP AAJA Coronavirus Response Grant. Cho plans to write about how immigrant-owned small businesses navigate the pandemic and profile the Asian American immigrant families behind some favorite Ann Arbor shops, restaurants and small businesses.

Patrick Coolican

Patrick Coolican ’14

Named editor-in-chief of The Minnesota Reformer, an independent start-up news organization and part of the nonprofit States Newsroom. For Coolican the opportunity to execute a new vision of a local news outlet and collaborate with talented young journalists was impossible to pass up. Their mission to do investigations, analysis and storytelling, and write about people whose stories are rarely told is “exhausting and exhilarating,” he said.

Hayes Ferguson

Hayes Ferguson ’99

Named director of Northwestern Engineering’s Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and clinical associate professor in the McCormick School of Engineering.

Steve Friess and his son, Nevada Ebbess Friess

Steve Friess ’12

Named News/Features Editor at Hour Detroit magazine and contributing writer for Newsweek.

Suzette Hackney with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi photo credit Kelly Wilkinson/IndyStar

Suzette Hackney ‘13

Became a national columnist for USA TODAY and the USA TODAY Network, where she will travel the country to “give voice to the voiceless through vivid and raw storytelling.” Her first USA TODAY column appeared on September 15. Previously, she was a columnist and the director of Opinion & Community Engagement for The Indianapolis Star.

Amy Haimerl

Amy Haimerl ’13

Joined the advisory board of the Mississippi Free Press, a new non-profit project dedicated to reporting and investigating issues facing the complex and complicated state. The news team is focused on getting to truth and solutions.

Sonya Green Ayears

Sonya Green Ayears ‘17

Named executive director of Making Contact, a weekly podcast and radio program on social justice issues and grassroots solutions to inform and inspire audiences to take action. “I feel destined to be here at this moment, in this time,” Green told us. “My values of economic equity, racial and gender justice align with Making Contact.” She also recently earned an M.S. degree in Organizational Leadership from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia.

Amy Maestas

Amy Maestas ’17

Joined the Solutions Journalism Network as region collaborative manager, where she will oversee collaborations among news and community organizations in parts of the Midwest and the West. The solutions-oriented partnerships aim to strengthen local media ecosystems and use community engagement as a tool to build conversations and trust in communities. Maestas’ new role allows her to build on the research and work she did as a Knight-Wallace Fellow, during which she focused on the future of local media.

Maurício Meireles

Maurício Meireles ’20

Became a reporter-at-large at Folha de São Paulo and host of the weekday podcast “Café da Manhã,” a Spotify and Folha de São Paulo project covering current events in Brazil and the world. Rodrigo Vizeu, who participated in the Fellowship as a spouse affiliate in 2017-2018, created the podcast upon returning to Folha de São Paulo from Ann Arbor. The morning show is now Spotify’s most downloaded podcast in Brazil. Previously, Meireles was a literature reporter and columnist at Folha de São Paulo.

John Shields

John Shields ’18

Joined The Economist in January 2020 to launch “Checks and Balance,” a weekly podcast on American politics. It is now their best-performing podcast in terms of listener and subscription metrics. Shields joined The Economist after 15 years with the BBC. He devoted his fellowship year in 2018 to developing and pitching what became the BBC’s first daily podcast

Luis Trelles

Luis Trelles ‘19

Joined Latino USA as a senior editor. In his new position, he develops long-form stories about the issues affecting diverse Latinx communities across the country. He was previously an editor and producer with Radio Ambulante. Last December, Luis organized and led an unforgettable Knight-Wallace Fellowship trip to his beloved Puerto Rico.

Awards and Honors

Greg Amante
Mikes Kessler

Greg Amante ’16 and Mike Kessler ’17

Won a 2020 Sports Emmy Award in the category of Outstanding Sports Journalism for their ESPN/Outside The Lines investigation, “The Squad: 44 Years, 41 Allegations.” Amante was producer with Kessler as a reporter on the team. They uncovered a trail of sexual abuse by a former Olympian and current track coach, Conrad Mainwaring. Their story resulted in the arrest of Mainwaring.

The two met when Amante was a Fellow and Kessler came to town for interview weekend. They hit it off. Later they talked casually about working on a project together. Reporting the Mainwaring story and realizing how big it could be, Kessler went straight to Amante with it. “I didn’t expect KWF to serve me in such an overt way, or for the project to happen so soon after my fellowship ended,” said Kesler. “But I guess that’s the point of KWF: Connect disparate but like-minded journalists and see what happens.”

@GregAmante, @mikeskessler

Molly Ball observed the social distance protocol when interviewing Maryland Governor Larry Hogan.

Molly Ball ‘10

Named Outstanding Print Journalist in this year’sWashingtonian magazine’s Washington Women in Journalism Awards.  Ball also released her first book, “Pelosi,” now a New York Times bestseller. See below

Joanne Gerstner

Joanne Gerstner ’13

Received the 2020 Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award from her alma mater Oakland University.  The award recognizes professional achievement and leadership. Gerstner is the first female sports journalist to win the award. She will be honored in June 2021.

Craig Gilbert

Craig Gilbert ’10

Won a first place National Headliner Award for excellence in political coverage. As Washington Bureau Chief for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, he was recognized for his analysis of the Wisconsin’s divided electorate. The judges noted he “writes with an authority that provides readers with context, not only of their state’s politics but with an important understanding of how their state fits into the national perspective.”

Delece Smith-Barrow and Josh Krammer met for a walk and socially distanced for a photo op. 
Photo credit Alli Bailey.

Delece Smith-Barrow ‘17 and Josh Kramer ‘17

Recieved the National Headliner Award for Digital Innovation for their Hechinger Report and CalMatters collaboration “A Game of College,” an interactive planning tool and resource for families to prepare for college. This reporting might not have taken such a creative, visual and interactive form if Delece and Josh had not met as Fellows. Here’s their game, with information to help students chart highschool coursework, extracurriculars and SAT/ACT prep,  financial aid and employment in college. Play now and get inspired for your next project.
@DeleceWrites, @jessohackberry

Paul Wilborn

Paul Wilborn ’99

Won the Gold Medal for Fiction in the 2019 Florida Book Awards “Cigar City: Tales From a 1980s Creative Ghetto,” a collection of linked short stories about the young artists, writers, poets, musicians and actors who inhabited Tampa’s Ybor City in the 1980s.


Molly Ball

Molly Ball ’10

Released her first book “Pelosi,” now a New York Times bestseller. The first biography written with the House Speaker’s cooperation, Ball was granted unprecedented access. She first profiled Pelosi in 2018 for a Time cover story, where she is the national political correspondent.

Miles Harvey photo credit Azize Harvey

Miles Harvey ’08

Published “The King of Confidence: A Tale of Utopian Dreamers, Frontier Schemers, True Believers, False Prophets, and the Murder of an American Monarch,” the story of James J. Strang, a con man/prophet from the mid-19th century who led hundreds of followers to a small island in northernmost Lake Michigan, where he declared himself King of Earth and Heaven.

A lot of reviewers have noted that James J. Strang had a lot in common with Donald J. Trump, but Harvey choses to let readers connect those dots for themselves. One of the many things Harvey says he loved about working on the book was spending countless hours in 19th-century newspaper databases. Although most papers were unapologetically partisan during the antebellum era, the quality of the prose was often superb. A huge boom in the number of news outlets, combined with stunning technological advances such as the telegraph, caused a communications revolution that some scholars have compared to the Information Age. Like Trump, Strang was brilliant at exploiting this emerging media to create and spread his own version of the truth.

Donovan Hohn

Donovan Hohn ’13

Published “The Inner Coast,” a collection of ten essays – many of which previously appeared in magazines such as Harper’s and The New York Times Magazine, features physical, historical, and emotional journeys through the American landscape.

More books by Knight-Wallace alumni


Get to Know Our New Associate Director, Robert Yoon

By Robert Yoon

What a year, right?

With unprecedented crises and tragedies unfolding around the globe, it’s tempting to sweep everything under the 2020 rug and write them off as the products of twelve particularly cursed pages from history’s calendar. But 2020 serves as an uncomfortable reminder of the old saw told in newsrooms for generations: the news never sleeps. Sometimes the news is so big in scope and so unrelenting that it finds you without having to look for it – as is the case with the coronavirus pandemic, the death of George Floyd and the outrage and worldwide conversation it sparked about social and racial injustices, the devastating wildfires in the American West, and of course the ongoing presidential campaign. But more often than not, important stories are hidden from view and need to be discovered. Sometimes they’re locked away in the first-hand accounts and recollections of the people who lived them, and sometimes they’re literally locked away in the file cabinets and computer hard drives of government officials.

Now more than ever, there is an acute need to tell these stories.

That’s why I’m excited to return to Wallace House this year at the launch of a new reporting fellowship program that takes our long-standing mission of supporting quality journalism and customizes it to meet the needs and realities of our current environment. Our inaugural Knight-Wallace Reporting Fellows are seasoned journalists from around the country who are digging into unexplored aspects of some of the biggest and most intractable issues of the day.

As a former Knight-Wallace Fellow, I benefited greatly from the support Wallace House gave me as I looked into ways to improve news coverage of the voting process in presidential elections, a topic I knew well from my 17 years covering elections at CNN. What I hadn’t necessarily expected was that the fellowship experience would help me find new ways to practice and appreciate journalism. I created and hosted a radio show about journalism on a local station and interviewed other journalists about their craft. And my conversations and interactions with the other Fellows in my cohort, particularly the international Fellows, inspired and shaped an undergraduate course that I created and taught at the University of Michigan  — “Journalism Under Siege,” which explored the challenges facing journalists in the U.S. and around the world. None of this would have been possible without Wallace House’s unique and valuable approach to its fellowship programs: identify and explore a topic of great importance to you, but also leave yourself open to the opportunities and ideas you encounter along the way.

As Associate Director, I hope to provide future classes of Fellows the same guidance, support, and flexibility that helped me thrive in the program and beyond. I’ll also work closely with journalists and with news and journalism organizations around the country to identify future Fellows with important stories to tell, especially from areas and communities that often get overlooked in today’s media environment. And I’ll be reaching out to our vast network of alumni Fellows dating back almost 50 years to find ways to keep them connected and engaged with the program and with each other.

The events of 2020 have shown how important it is to have a vital and active press around the world. But it’s important to remember that there’s a need for robust journalism not just during the times when everyone is paying attention, but also during the times when no one is paying attention. There were plenty of important stories that needed to be told prior to this year, and that will still be the case long after 2020 is in the history books. As it has for almost half a century, Wallace House will continue to support journalists who tell these stories. 

Robert Yoon joined Wallace House in July as Associate Director. He is a 2018 Knight-Wallace Fellow.

Director’s Update

By Lynette Clemetson

Each year we encourage our Knight-Wallace Fellows to push themselves in new directions, to experiment with form, style, and platforms. We nudge them out of their comfort zones in service of making them more thoughtful and creative in their work. This year the Wallace House team is being pushed to do the same.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit early in the year it disrupted our well-oiled routine, starting with an annual trip to South Korea scheduled for February. Because of that planned trip to Asia, our team was responding to the mysterious new virus more than a month before most Americans were forced to take it seriously.  By mid-March we were flying international Fellows back to their home countries before borders closed, transitioning to remote operations, and puzzling over what the pandemic might mean for our programs in the months and year ahead.

Our brand is built around close connection, from the cozy, welcoming physical structure of Wallace House itself to the personal approach of the Knight-Wallace Fellowship, the Livingston Awards and the Wallace House Presents events series. But as much as we love our traditions, our mission is simple and clear – Support the careers of journalists. Uphold the vital role of journalism in society. Nothing about the virus changed that mandate.

2020 Livingston Award winner, Assia Boundaoui reporting in her documentary
“The Feeling of Being Watched.”

In lieu of our annual Livingston Awards luncheon in early June, we announced our three Livingston winners in a series of video presentations. That early shift helped us to think more nimbly. The responses we received from longtime and new Livingston luncheon attendees also gave us a sense of how our various audiences were adapting to receiving information. The Livingston Awards is more than an annual luncheon. It is a yearlong program that extends public conversations and training for young journalists. This month I interviewed our 2020 Livingston winner for National Reporting, Assia Boundaoui, for the virtual IRE Conference. And we’ll be looking for more ways to extend the work of our Livingston winners over the coming months. 

Watch the video presentations announcing the 2020 Livingston Award winners.

In a year of pandemic-driven pay cuts, furloughs and layoffs across the journalism industry and in the midst of deep uncertainty about on-campus learning, we adapted our fellowship to a remote program allowing us to creatively and directly support reporters pursuing complex reporting projects. The pivot also offered an assist to news organizations seeking to boost their coverage. Soon after we announced our Reporting Fellows, Rick Berke, co-founder and executive editor of the health and medicine news site STAT, sent an enthusiastic announcement to his staff:

“I am thrilled to announce that Nicholas St. Fleur will be joining STAT next month as a Knight-Wallace Reporting Fellow, with the critical mission of pioneering a new beat on the intersection of race, medicine, and the life sciences.”

As a Knight-Wallace Reporting Fellow this year, Nicholas St. Fleur will
report on racial bias in science, medicine and health for STAT.

Nick will be one of 11 Knight-Wallace Reporting Fellows adding critical capacity to news organizations over the next year because of our restructured fellowship.

Last year we announced a plan to support news from and about the Midwest. This fellowship year looks nothing like we imagined. But the resolve to serve our slice of the country remains. This class of Fellows includes journalists based in Ohio, Michigan, Nebraska and Wisconsin.

As we experiment with platforms and approaches, we’ll be working to provide all of our Fellows with the personal attention and cohort-based connection that shapes our traditional residential program. They will be co-creators in this process. Though we view this year’s program as a temporary shift in approach, we expect the experience to produce insight that will inform our work going forward. 

Read more about the Knight-Wallace Reporting Fellows and their projects.

Over the past few years, we’ve enjoyed deepening our connection to the public through our Wallace House Presents series. These days gathering with hundreds of strangers in large event venues and mingling at intimate receptions seem like vestiges of another time. But that doesn’t diminish the importance of bringing transparency to the work of journalists and elevating reporting on important topics to spur community discussion and action.

We’re learning how to continue our public engagement work in new ways. In the early years of digital news, journalists had to figure out what storytelling worked best on which platforms. The same holds true now. Just because something can be done on Zoom doesn’t mean it should.

So there will be no September Hovey Lecture this year.  The spirit and form of that event – bringing a former Fellow home to Wallace House to discuss how their work has developed since the fellowship –feels like something best preserved until we can gather again in the Wallace House garden.

Wallace House is partnering with the Penny Stamps Speakers Series
for a virtual conversation with Ken Burns and Isabel Wilkerson on October 2.

But other conversations and collaborations seem uniquely suited to this moment. This fall we’re collaborating with the Penny Stamps Speakers Series to present a conversation on how we view our American history with filmmaker Ken Burns and journalist and author Isabel Wilkerson. We’re also collaborating with U-M Professor Luke Schaefer and Poverty Solutions on a public conversation with New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof.

See our event schedule for Fall 2020.

Through all of our adaptations, I have been keenly aware of how very fortunate we are. Our Fellowship is secured by decades of inspired determination and effort on the part of Charles Eisendrath to endow the program. The institutional and individual donors whose generous support built the Knight-Wallace Fellowship endowment remain committed to our program. I have been heartened by their direct support and conversations with me and their expressions of shared belief in our current vision. Our National and Regional judges for the Livingston Awards and our Executive Board members who provide me with wise counsel across the full span of our programs are all experienced leaders, navigating the challenges of this historic year in their own organizations. Our staff – bolstered by the recent addition of Robert Yoon as Associate Director of Wallace House – is energetic, collaborative and supportive of one another.

As we start this academic year from our makeshift home offices, with eager Fellows connecting from around the country, the vital importance of our mission has never felt clearer. I look forward to all we will learn and create together.

Lynette Clemetson is Director of Wallace House, home of the Knight-Wallace Fellowships for Journalists and the Livingston Awards at the University of Michigan. She is a 2010 Knight-Wallace Fellow.

In Support of Maria Ressa and Rey Santos Jr.

Wallace House stands with journalism organizations around the world in condemning the conviction of journalist Maria Ressa, CEO and executive editor of Rappler, an independent news organization in the Philippines.  Ressa, an award-winning international journalist and U.S. citizen, was found guilty today of “cyber libel” under the Philippine Cybercrime Prevention Act. Ressa and a former Rappler reporter, Reynoldo Santos Jr., could face up to six years in prison.

“This conviction represents a threat to global press freedom and ultimately to democracy,” said Wallace House director Lynette Clemetson. “This injustice in the Philippines, once one of Asia’s most vibrant democracies, is part of a dangerous pattern worldwide to intimidate and silence the press. Organizations that support journalists must make our voices heard in condemning this outcome.”

The case against Ressa stems from a 2012 Rappler story alleging a businessman’s ties to illegal drugs and human trafficking. A former CNN journalist and Time Person of the Year, Ressa has been repeatedly targeted by the Philippine government for Rappler’s critical coverage of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs and other punitive policies. Under Duterte’s rule, the Philippines has become increasingly dangerous for journalists. The Philippines ranks 136th out of 180 countries on the 2020 World Press Freedom Index. The United States, which has dropped dramatically in recent years, ranks 45.

Political Journalist, Robert Yoon, Joins Wallace House as Associate Director


Wallace House welcomes Robert Yoon, political journalist and University of Michigan visiting professor, as its Associate Director.

In his new position, Yoon will support Wallace House Director, Lynette Clemetson, with the management of the organization’s programs and the daily operations, activities and outreach of the Knight-Wallace Fellowship programs and initiatives. 

“As Associate Director, I’m looking forward to working with top journalists from around the world and helping them explore new ways to produce powerful and innovative journalism when the world needs it the most,” said Yoon.

Yoon, a 2018 Knight-Wallace Fellow, oversaw CNN’s political research operation for more than 17 years. In that role, he planned, organized and covered major political news stories and events including five presidential campaigns, numerous congressional and gubernatorial elections and Supreme Court nominations. He has prepared moderators from multiple news organizations for more than 30 presidential debates. As a media consultant during the 2020 campaign season, Yoon analyzed Election Night data for several major networks and helped plan a Democratic presidential primary debate.

His contributions to CNN’s election and breaking news coverage have earned him two Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award, and two National Headliner Awards, including one for his work on the investigation of the 9/11 terror plot. In 2016, he was named by Mediaite as one of the most influential people in the news media.

In addition to his role at Wallace House, Yoon will continue to teach courses on political messaging and campaigns within the university’s College of Literature, Science, and the Arts during the fall 2020 semester. He holds degrees from Harvard University and the University of Michigan. Yoon will start at Wallace House on July 1.

Announcing 2020 Livingston Winners

2020 Livingston Award winners (counter-clockwise from top: Caroline Chen, Assia Boundaoui and Brett Murphy)

In the midst of a seismic social movement and a lingering pandemic, it is pivotal to our democracy to support and recognize reporting that advances the cause of truth and justice. Today the Livingston Awards honor stories that represent the best in local, national and international reporting by journalists under age 35. The stories highlight a New Jersey hospital that prolonged life support to boost its transplant survival rate; the FBI’s decades-long surveillance of a tight-knit Muslim community outside of Chicago; and the U.S. military’s devastating raid on its own security forces in Azizabad, Afghanistan. The $10,000 prizes are for work released in 2019.

Livingston Awards national judges John Harris, co-founder of Politico, Ken Auletta of The New Yorker and Christiane Amanpour of CNNi and PBS congratulate the winners above in a video tribute. This year’s Livingston Award winners will be honored in person in June 2021, when we hope to return to our traditional awards luncheon.

“As we honor our Livingston Award winners, we are consumed by unrest and uncertainty.  2019 seems like a lifetime ago, and we wonder what difference an award can make when we are torn by grief, anger and weariness,” said Livingston Awards Director Lynette Clemetson. “But the reporting we recognize today, reporting that scrutinizes accepted narratives and brings transparency to hidden tactics and actions, reminds us of the power of journalism to move us beyond the breaking news cycle. It reminds us that it will be journalists who, months and years from now, help us to more fully understand all that we are struggling through and pushing toward now.” 

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.

The 2020 winners for work released in 2019 are:


Caroline Chen for the ProPublica series “Heartless Hospital,” co-published with New Jersey Advance Media and WNYC, an investigation of a hospital transplant team’s efforts to keep a vegetative patient on life support and mislead federal regulators, while failing to consult with the patient’s family on treatment decisions.

“I recall being swept away by the power of Caroline Chen’s series ‘Heartless Hospital.’ It exposed an outrageous reality. Imagine doctors keeping a heart transplant patient with no hope of survival alive in a vegetative state in order to bolster their one-year survival statistics and keep federal funding. There’s not any doubt that’s what happened at Newark Beth Israel Hospital. Caroline Chen had it on tape. Her story led to public investigations and reforms that will help future patients.” – John Harris


Assia Boundaoui for PBS’s POV “The Feeling of Being Watched,” a deeply personal, riveting documentary uncovering a two-decade FBI probe on more than 600 Muslim American mosques, businesses, charities, and private individuals across the U.S. and examining the corrosive impact of perpetual surveillance on the community of Bridgeview, Illinois that Boundaoui’s Algerian-American family has long called home.

“When I clicked on Assia Boundaoui’s video ‘The Feeling of Being Watched,’ the journalist cop in me was wary. Feelings. Journalists should deal in facts. Yet as I watched, I realized the feelings, in fact, did matter. The humanity she dared share, showed the story more powerfully than a keep your distance reporter could. We watched her interview her mother, brother, and members of the Muslim community. We learned that the FBI was indeed watching them. She filed freedom of information requests. She asked tough questions to government officials who lied to her. She grew before our eyes into a truthteller. She revealed that for more than 20 years the Chicago FBI profiled a Muslim community, tracked them, and gathered information on an entire community. I say it made us all watch and feel – really feel.” – Ken Auletta


Brett Murphy of USA TODAY for “Show of Force,” a searing investigation of a 2008 U.S. military attack on its own security forces in Azizabad, Afghanistan, killing dozens of civilians, including as many as 60 children, and the subsequent attempts by the U.S. Defense Department to downplay the tragedy.

“I congratulate Brett Murphy for deciding to go back and go through the evidence that had been kept away from public consumption – from going to Afghanistan, to getting thousands of pages of military records that had not been made public, to doing the leg work in the United States, and to talking to soldiers who had been involved. Of course, the Pentagon didn’t want to talk about this. Of course, they wanted it to be kept secret, but Brett uncovered it and did an extraordinary job. It’s not only the stories of the day that are important, but it’s the stories that you go back to look at and come out with a different truth – the truth that wasn’t known at the time – that are important. We absolutely need that now.” – Christiane Amanpour

In addition to Harris, Auletta and Amanpour, the Livingston national judging panel includes; Dean Baquet of The New York Times; Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune; Anna Quindlen author;  María Elena Salinas, CBS News contributor; Bret Stephens of The New York Times; and Kara Swisher of Recode.

More on the winners here.

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:

Announcing the 2020 Livingston Award Finalists

Wallace House and the University of Michigan announced today the 2020 finalists in local, national and international reporting. The awards support young journalists and honor the best reporting and storytelling by journalists under the age of 35 across all forms of journalism. The 56 finalist selections were chosen from more than 500 entries for work released in 2019.

This year’s Livingston Award winners will be announced on the Wallace House website and Twitter on June 4, 2020 and honored in person in June 2021, when we hope to return to our traditional awards luncheon. We will not gather this year due to public health concerns.

“This year’s Livingston Award finalists affirm the persistence, commitment and creativity of journalists to push beyond the surface to reveal complex truths and illuminate the human experience,” said Wallace House Director Lynette Clemetson. “The more than 500 entries we received are a testament to the role young journalists play in pushing the craft forward despite industry challenges and public efforts to invalidate journalism’s role in society. In recognizing these finalists we hope to extend the reach of their work and encourage the further development of their careers.”

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 Trail Charitable Foundation, the Mollie Parnis Livingston Foundation, Christiane Amanpour and Dr. Gil Omenn and Martha Darling.

The Livingston Awards regional judges read all qualifying entries to select the finalists in local, national and international reporting. The regional judging panel includes: Raney Aronson-Rath, executive producer, “Frontline,” PBS; Molly Ball, national political correspondent, Time; Stella Chávez, education reporter, KERA Public Radio (Dallas); Chris Davis, Vice-President of Investigative Journalism, Gannett; David Greene, host, “Morning Edition,” NPR; Stephen Henderson, host, “Detroit Today,” WDET; and Shirley Leung, columnist and associate editor, The Boston Globe.

The Livingston Awards national judges review all finalist entries and select the winners. The national judges are Christiane Amanpour, chief international correspondent, CNNi and host, “Amanpour on PBS”; Ken Auletta, author and media and communications writer, The New Yorker; Dean Baquet, executive editor, The New York Times; John Harris, co-founder, Politico; Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune; Anna Quindlen, author; María Elena Salinas, contributor, CBS News; Bret Stephens, op-ed columnist, The New York Times; and Kara Swisher, editor at large, Recode.

We present the 2020 Livingston Awards finalists and invite you to review their work here.

Local Reporting

  • Jenny Abamu, WAMU
  • Bridget Balch, Richmond Times-Dispatch
  • Michael Barajas, Texas Observer
  • Neil Bedi, Tampa Bay Times
  • Caroline Chen, ProPublica co-published with NJ Advance Media and WNYC
  • Emily Corwin, New Hampshire Public Radio
  • Taylor Elizabeth Eldridge, Type Investigations in partnership with The Appeal
  • Allie Gross, Detroit Free Press
  • Alyssa Hodenfield, The Sacramento Bee
  • Lizzie Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle
  • Marisa M. Kashino, Washingtonian
  • Spencer Kent, NJ Advance Media
  • Taylor Mirfendereski, KING 5
  • Danielle Muoio, POLITICO New York
  • Tim Prudente, The Baltimore Sun
  • Dylan Segelbaum and Amber South, The York Daily Record
  • Marina Starleaf Riker, San Antonio Express-News
  • Alain Stephens, The Trace in partnership with NBC Bay Area, NBC San Diego and NBC Los Angeles

 National Reporting

  • Emily Baumgaertner, Los Angeles Times
  • Sarah Blaskey, Nicholas Nehamas and Caitlin Ostroff, Miami Herald
  • Helena Bottemiller Evich, POLITICO
  • Assia Boundaoui, PBS’s POV
  • Jacob Carah, Abby Ellis and Kayla Ruble, FRONTLINE
  • Ashley Cleek and Janice Llamoca, Latino USA
  • Jessica Contrera, The Washington Post
  • Robert Downen, Houston Chronicle
  • Katie Engelhart, The California Sunday Magazine
  • Ryan Felton, Consumer Reports
  • Brian Freskos, The Trace in partnership with The New Yorker
  • Kenny Jacoby, USA TODAY Network
  • Emily Kassie, The Marshall Project in partnership with The Guardian
  • Julia Lurie, Mother Jones
  • Jenna McLaughlin, Yahoo News
  • Jack Nicas, The New York Times
  • Bobby Olivier and Michael Sol Warren, NJ Advance Media
  • Kendall Taggart, BuzzFeed News
  • Emily Tate, EdSurge and WIRED
  • Stuart A. Thompson and Charlie Warzel, The New York Times

 International Reporting

  • Rosalind Adams, BuzzFeed News
  • Lama Al-Arian and Ruth Sherlock, NPR
  • Sarah Butrymowicz, The Hechinger Report in partnership with Marie Claire
  • Doug Bock Clark, GQ magazine
  • Isabel Coles, The Wall Street Journal
  • Max de Haldevang, Quartz
  • Olivia Goldhill, Quartz
  • Jarrad Henderson, USA Today
  • Andrew Keh, The New York Times
  • Natasha Khan, The Wall Street Journal
  • Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times
  • Brett Murphy, USA TODAY Network
  • Molly O’Toole, Los Angeles Times
  • Kenneth R. Rosen, WIRED
  • Blake Sobczak, E&E News
  • Ben Solomon, FRONTLINE on PBS
  • Chris Walker, Rock and Ice Magazine
  • Karla Zabludovsky, BuzzFeed News

More on the finalists and links to their work »

Knight-Wallace Alumni Reunion Update


An update for all Knight-Wallace alumni

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and uncertainty in the coming months around travel, group gatherings and campus activity, we have made the tough decision to cancel our Knight-Wallace Reunion scheduled for Labor Day weekend, September 4-6, 2020.

We will look at ways to gather our Knight-Wallace family at a later time. Further updates will be posted on our website, social media channels and in our newsletter.

Now more than ever, each of us is reminded why journalists and the work they do every day matters. We look forward to a time when we can share in celebrating journalism, our support for each other and the enduring relationships of our Knight-Wallace family.

Please contact us if you have any questions.


COVID-19 and Updates from Wallace House


Due to the current public health emergency and in accordance with national, state and University of Michigan directives, all Wallace House Presents events have been canceled for the remainder of the semester and regular fellowship activities have been suspended.

Our staff is working remotely and remains available to our fellows, applicants, alumni and partners as we adapt our programs to address critical concerns on public health and safety.

Please contact us if you have any questions about our programs.