Meghna Chakrabarti, host and editor of “On Point,” and Adam Ganucheau, editor-in-chief of Mississippi Today Join the Livingston Awards Judging Panel
Wallace House Center for Journalists welcomes the addition of Meghna Chakrabarti, host and editor of WBUR’s “On Point,” and Adam Ganucheau, editor-in-chief of Mississippi Today, to the Livingston Awards regional judging panel. They will join our esteemed regional and national judges in identifying the best reporting and storytelling by journalists under the age of 35.
Chakrabarti is the award-winning host and editor of “On Point,” a weekday radio show produced by WBUR in Boston and distributed by American Public Media. “On Point” has been frequently recognized for excellence in journalism under Chakrabarti’s leadership, reporting on the economy, health care, politics and the environment. She previously served as the host of “Radio Boston,” WBUR’s acclaimed weekday local show, and “Modern Love: The Podcast,” a collaboration of WBUR and The New York Times. Chakrabarti holds a master’s degree from Harvard University and an MBA with honors from Boston University.
Ganucheau is the editor-in-chief of Mississippi Today, Mississippi’s largest newsroom. He was the lead editor of the 2023 Livingston Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation “The Backchannel,” exposing high-profile players’ roles in the state’s welfare scandal. He previously worked as a staff reporter for Mississippi Today, AL.com, The Birmingham News, and the Clarion Ledger. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Ganucheau earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Mississippi.
The regional judges read all qualifying entries and select the finalists in local, national and international reporting categories. In addition to Chakrabarti and Ganucheau the regional judging panel includes Molly Ball of The Wall Street Journal; Stella M. Chávez of KERA Public Radio (Dallas); David Greene of Fearless Media; Stephen Henderson of BridgeDetroit, WDET public radio and Detroit Public Television; and Amna Nawaz of “PBS NewsHour.”
The national judges read all final entries and meet to select the Livingston winners in the local, national and international reporting categories and the Richard M. Clurman recipient, an award honoring a senior journalist for on-the-job mentoring. The national judging panel includes Raney Aronson-Rath of PBS; Sewell Chan of The Texas Tribune; Audie Cornish of CNN; Matt Murray of News Corp; Lydia Polgreen of The New York Times; María Elena Salinas of ABC News; Bret Stephens of The New York Times; and Kara Swisher of New York Magazine.
Now Accepting Entries
The Livingston Awards are now accepting entries for work published in 2023. The entry deadline is February 1, 2024.
About the Livingston Awards
Livingston Awards honor journalists under the age of 35 for outstanding achievement in local, national and international reporting across all forms of journalism. The awards bolster the work of young reporters, create the next generation of journalism leaders and mentors, and advance civic engagement around powerful storytelling. The Livingston Awards are a program of Wallace House Center for Journalists at the University of Michigan, home to the Knight-Wallace Fellowships for Journalists and the Wallace House Presents event series.
Wallace House Center for Journalists is excited to welcome Ashley Bates as its Associate Director.
In this position, Bates will manage the daily operations of Wallace House and the Knight-Wallace Fellowship activities and support Wallace House director Lynette Clemetson in the strategic direction and running of all organizational programs and initiatives. Bates will also be responsible for alumni engagement, outreach activities across the journalism industry, and recruitment for the Knight-Wallace Fellowships, ensuring a diverse range of program participants.
“I am honored to join the Wallace House Center for Journalists team,” said Bates. “I look forward to getting to know this community, working in creative partnership with news organizations and alumni, and offering responsive programming and individualized support to Knight-Wallace Fellows.”
Bates comes to Wallace House with both organizational leadership and journalism experience. She has a demonstrated record of administering complex programs, nurturing alumni communities, leading professional development training, recruiting underrepresented voices, and executing imaginative programming that is tailored to the needs of organizations and their participants. For the past four years, she has served as the Program Manager for the University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program, a top-ranked MFA program for fiction authors and poets. Previously, Bates managed graduate student recruitment and career mentorship initiatives for the University of Michigan’s International Institute.
Bates worked as an investigative journalist in Gaza, the West Bank, Israel, and the United States, producing videos and long-form features for The Nation, Haaretz, Mother Jones, Huffington Post, Tikkun, Jerusalem Post Magazine, GlobalPost, and Columbia Journalism Review.
Fluent in Arabic, she served for eight years as the Program Director and then the Executive Director of an Israeli-Palestinian dialogue and social justice advocacy organization called Hands of Peace.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Amherst College and a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School. Bates will start at Wallace House on May 1.
Wallace House at the University of Michigan welcomes Jayson Rose as its Senior Development Officer.
In this newly created role, Rose will be responsible for developing and managing annual giving, major gifts and institutional support needed to advance the mission and programs of Wallace House. Working jointly with Wallace House director Lynette Clemetson and the Office of University Development leadership, Rose will identify gift prospects, with a focus on connecting the philanthropic interests and passions of Wallace House friends, alumni and donors to our journalism programs in meaningful ways.
“As Wallace House expands its vision, it is imperative that we respond thoughtfully to the many supporters who reach out to us with interest in helping to foster our programs and journalism’s vital role to our democracy,” said Lynette Clemetson. “Jayson’s background and expertise will allow us to develop these philanthropic interests strategically with an eye to the future. We are thrilled to welcome him.”
Rose comes to Wallace House with deep development experience. He recently oversaw fundraising efforts for three divisions within Duke University’s academic medicine fundraising entity, Duke Health Development and Alumni Affairs. Before joining Duke, Rose spent more than three years at his alma mater, Western Michigan University, as the Director of Major Gifts. In that role, he helped raise five, six and seven-figure gifts for various entities across the campus. His previous academic experience also includes time at Iowa State University, helping to lead efforts at their business school. Rose was also Associate Director of Development for Student Life at the University of Michigan and points to that experience as a turning point in his professional career.
Rose is known for being a collaborative and compassionate fundraising professional who is committed to helping donors make a lasting impact through philanthropy. Throughout his career, he has played a prominent role in securing resources for student scholarships, faculty support, endowed funds, planned gifts and other areas of need. Rose helped drive strategies that led to philanthropic support tied to billion-dollar-plus campaigns, including “Forever True, For Iowa State,” and, we are happy to include, “Victors for Michigan.”
Before his career in fundraising, Rose worked for Phoenix Media in Chicago and was a professional DJ lending his services to corporations and world-famous athletes and celebrities, including Derek Jeter, Michael Jordan, and Michael Bublé.
Rose earned his B.A. from Western Michigan University with a concentration in Economics. He will start at Wallace House on January 31.
An Academic Year to Produce Ambitious Reporting on our Most Pressing Issues
Each year the Knight-Wallace Fellowships at the University of Michigan summon journalists to think boldly about their craft and enhance their skills to meet the needs of a changing industry. As the U.S. continues to grapple with a global pandemic and continuing economic, social, and political upheaval, ambitious reporting on efforts to move forward is essential.
The Knight-Wallace Reporting Fellowships will remain remote for the 2021-22 academic year, to respond to this unique period of transition. Applications are now open and are due on May 3. We held a Q&A Webinars on February 19 and April 1, to discuss the application process for interested applicants and newsroom editors.
The Knight-Wallace Reporting Fellowship will provide a $70,000 stipend over eight months plus $10,000 to support supplemental costs for reporting projects to be produced during the period of the fellowship. Our Knight-Wallace Reporting Fellows will participate in professional development and digital seminars with researchers and experts tackling challenges across a range ofields and disciplines. Fellows will have remote access to the world-class resources of the University of Michigan and regular opportunities for engagement with faculty and students.
We’ll select a cohort of ten accomplished journalists with different backgrounds and experiences to pursue in-depth reporting projects that require time and resources. Selected Fellows will not be required to leave their place of work.
We’re looking for proposals that step back from breaking and incremental coverage. Reporting projects may examine any issue or facet of society but should be timely and should involve capturing how the country and communities are grappling with change and moving toward solutions.
If in-person gatherings become possible and we can ensure a safe experience, we will host Fellows for two one-week sessions at Wallace House in Ann Arbor: one in the fall and one in the winter, culminating in an on-site symposium at the end of the academic year to highlight the reporting work produced during the fellowship.
A Focus on In-Depth Reporting
Published or produced work is a requirement of the fellowship. Applicants must submit a detailed reporting proposal related to the seismic challenges we now face. The output should match the proposed project and form of journalism. For instance, a documentary filmmaker might complete one film during the period of the fellowship; a long-form magazine writer might produce one or two published pieces; a community-based or enterprise reporter might produce a project that appears weekly or monthly.
Areas of focus can include but are not limited to science and medicine, the economy, law and justice, business, race and ethnicity, education, inequality, technology, the environment, and entertainment and recreation. Areas of coverage can be local, national or global.
The fellowship is not intended to support daily beat reporting that would be produced regardless of fellowship support. It is also not intended for book writing.
All work produced during the fellowship will be owned by the media organization for which it is produced and will carry an agreed-upon acknowledgment of support by the Knight-Wallace Fellowships for Journalists at the University of Michigan.
The program is open to staff, freelance and contract journalists. All applicants must have at least five years of reporting experience and be either a U.S. resident or hold a U.S. passport. Uncertainty around international travel and visa restrictions makes it difficult to sponsor non-U.S. residents at this time.
The Knight-Wallace Reporting Fellowship for the 2021-22 academic year is a working fellowship featuring
An eight-month program focused on supporting ambitious, in-depth, innovative journalism projects examining our most pressing public challenges including but not limited to social shifts precipitated by the pandemic, the nation’s deep political divisions and persistent social justice issues surrounding race, ethnicity and inequality
A remote structure that allows reporters to remain where they live
A cohort of ten Fellows selected from a pool of experienced journalists from a variety of beats and expertise
A $70,000 stipend to support reporting and fellowship participation dispersed monthly from September 2021 through April 2022
An additional $10,000 in supplemental support to cover extra costs including health insurance, reporting equipment and travel-related reporting expenses
Weekly remote seminars with University of Michigan faculty and subject matter experts from a wide range of fields
Professional development and supplemental skills workshops
Subject to public health guidance, two one-week Fellowship Cohort sessions held at Wallace House on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor with travel, lodging and hosting expenses covered by the program
A year-end symposium at the University of Michigan highlighting work produced during the fellowship
Application Deadline is May 3
Applications are now open. The deadline to apply is at 11:59 pm ET on Monday, May 3.
The Reporting Fellowship offers will be extended at the end of June.
An Invitation to Learn More
For more information on the fellowship and how to apply, Wallace House Director Lynette Clemetson, and Associate Director Robert Yoon held a Q&A webinar at 12:30 pm ET on Friday, February 19. Interested applicants were invited to join and ask questions. Newsroom editors who would like to know more about this opportunity for reporters on their team were also welcome to join. You can view the recording of the webinar on-demand here.
A Q&A webinar for editors was held on April 1 at 12:30 PM ET. You can watch the recording of the webinar here.
Raney Aronson-Rath, Matt Murray, Amna Nawaz and Lydia Polgreen appointed to Livingston Judging Panels
Wallace House welcomes the addition of Raney Aronson-Rath, Matt Murray, Amna Nawaz and Lydia Polgreen to the Livingston Awards judging panels. They will join our long-serving regional and national judges in identifying the best reporting and storytelling by journalists under the age of 35.
Aronson-Rath, executive producer of the PBS investigative documentary program “Frontline,” and former Livingston Awards regional judge will move to the national judging panel. Murray, editor-in-chief of The Wall Street Journal, and Polgreen, head of programming for Gimlet, will also join the national judging panel. This esteemed group of judges includes Ken Auletta, media and communications writer, The New Yorker; Dean Baquet, executive editor, The New York Times; John Harris, co-founder, Politico; Clarence Page, syndicated columnist; Anna Quindlen, author; María Elena Salinas, contributor, CBS News; Bret Stephens, op-ed columnist, The New York Times and Kara Swisher executive producer, Code Conference and host of the podcasts “Sway” and “Pivot.”
Nawaz, senior national correspondent for PBS “NewsHour” will join the regional judging panel. The group of accomplished journalists includes Molly Ball, senior political reporter, Time; Stella Chavez, education reporter KERA public radio (Dallas); Chris Davis, executive editor and vice-president of investigations, Gannet; David Greene, former host, “Morning Edition,” NPR; Stephen Henderson, host, WDET, public radio Detroit and DPTV, Detroit Public Television and Shirley Leung, columnist and associate editor, The Boston Globe.
“The Livingston Awards highlight excellence across all forms of journalism. Raney, Lydia, Matt and Amna bring exceptional combined experience across visual, audio, print, broadcast, digital, daily and longform investigative journalism,” said Livingston Awards Director, Lynette Clemetson. “Their work with young reporters applying high standards to new storytelling approaches will add valuable insights to our already robust judging ranks.”
Aronson-Rath is the executive producer of “Frontline,” PBS’ flagship investigative journalism series, and is a leading voice on the future of journalism. She oversees the program’s acclaimed investigative reporting on-air and online and directs the series’ editorial vision. Appointed to the position in May 2015, she joined “Frontline” in 2001. Aronson-Rath has been with the Livingston Awards since 2005 serving as a regional judge.
Murray is editor-in-chief of The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Newswires, responsible for all global newsgathering and editorial operations. He previously served as executive editor since 2017, and had been deputy editor-in-chief since 2013. He joined Dow Jones & Company in 1994 as a reporter for the Pittsburgh bureau.
Polgreen is head of content at Gimlet, a podcast studio at Spotify. Prior to that, she was editor in chief of HuffPost following a 15-year career at The New York Times that included roles as associate masthead editor, deputy international editor, South Africa bureau chief, correspondent for the New Delhi bureau and chief of the West Africa bureau. Polgreen received the 2009 Livingston Award for international reporting for her series, “The Spoils.”
Nawaz serves as senior national correspondent and primary substitute anchor for PBS “NewsHour.” Previously she was an anchor and correspondent at ABC News and served as a foreign correspondent at NBC News, reporting from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, Turkey and the broader region. She is also the founder and former managing editor of NBC’s Asian America platform, built to elevate the voices of America’s fastest-growing population.
“It is especially meaningful that Lydia and Raney assume these new roles as long-standing members of the Livingston community – Lydia as a former winner for international reporting, and Raney as a long-serving regional judge. As their own careers as executives and change-makers in journalism have grown, they have maintained their commitment to the mission of the Livingston Awards, to recognize and lift up the next generation of leaders.”
Now Accepting Entries
The Livingston Awards are now accepting entries for work published in 2020. The entry deadline is February 1, 2021.
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.
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.
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. @anaavilamexico
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. @NialaBoodhoo
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. @janetcho
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. @jpcoolican
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. @suzyscribe
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. @haimerlad
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. @aboutsonya
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. @maeamy_co
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. @mmeireles
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 @johneshields
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. @cu_bata
Awards and Honors
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.”
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. @joannecgerstner
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.” @WisVoter
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 ’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. @PaulWilborn1
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. @mollyesque
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. @MilesHa91389803
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. @donovanhohn
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 wallacehouse.umich.edu/Livingston-awards.
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: knightfoundation.org.
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.
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