Meeting and Bonding for the First Time, Over Zoom

Kicking off the Reporting Fellowship à la Wallace House style. Reporting Fellow, Jaeah Lee introduces herself to her fellow Fellows with a presentation about her life and journalism career.

First Impressions. Deep Connections.

My first assignment as a Knight-Wallace Reporting Fellow arrived in my inbox, and I immediately dreaded it. Each Fellow was to prepare a presentation about ourselves and our journey into journalism, to give one another a sense of who we are beneath the titles, bylines, and accolades. “We’d like to hear about your personal interests and what motivates you,” the email read. We’d do this over Zoom and each get 20 minutes. Twenty minutes! Just the thought of it made me shrivel.

As journalists, we often ask people to be vulnerable with us. to share their darkest memories, their innermost selves. I knew I was pretty bad at doing this myself, to be on the receiving end of probing personal questions. The last time I opened up to a group of journalists I barely knew, I broke into tears unexpectedly, and no, it was not the pretty kind but the sort of awkward, heaving, ugly cry that only gets worse when you try to stop it.

Couldn’t we just do a little virtual happy hour and keep things safely superficial?

Lynette Clemetson, Wallace House director, and Robert Yoon, associate director, opened the Fellowship’s first week with their own intros. They blew me away, which, of course, only made me more nervous. They each prepared a polished slideshow complete with archival family photos, decades-old clips, witty headlines about their careers, and spoke candidly about some of their most vulnerable moments—the times they questioned whether they should leave the industry, the doubts and anxieties they faced in between milestones. They were honest and heartfelt and inspiring in a way I wasn’t entirely prepared for. They set the tone for the rest of us.

As each Fellow took their turn, they took us inside their family histories, the reporting experiences that changed their lives, their career highs and lows, the insecurities and challenges that lingered. Many moments took me by surprise. Several Fellows shed a tear or two while sharing some of the hardships they experienced, and I cried with them, not just because I was moved, but also because I saw pieces of myself in their stories. While watching another Fellow speak—someone I met years earlier, whom I deeply admired and considered a friend—I realized that there were so many things about her life that never came up during our many phone calls catching up and talking shop. It dawned on me then that this wasn’t your average week of introductions.

By the time I presented, I felt like I already knew the group in this strangely, beautifully, intimate way.

My 20 minutes went by in a flash. By the end of the week, I even wished we had more time. We would have stayed out talking late into the night if only we could gather in person. The feeling reminded me of these dinners I used to have with a group of girlfriends during my twenties when we’d meet at someone’s apartment and take turns sharing stories about relationships, family, work, marriage, motherhood. We called it girl church.

On the second week of the Fellowship, a Fellow joked with me that she wondered if we had all unknowingly joined an eight-month journalism therapy program. We laughed. And the truth was, whether it was going to be like therapy or church, I couldn’t wait for what was ahead.

Jaeah Lee is a 2022 Knight-Wallace Reporting Fellow and an independent journalist based in San Fransisco. Her feature stories have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The California Sunday Magazine, Vice News, Topic, Columbia Journalism Review, and Mother Jones.

The Published Journalism of the 2021 Knight-Wallace Reporting Fellows

In-Depth Reporting from our Reimagined Fellowship

Wallace House created the Knight-Wallace Reporting Fellowship in 2020 to address the remote needs of Covid-19. We challenged journalists to report on significant issues in a moment of great difficulty and change. Our expectations were high, and the first class of Reporting Fellows exceeded them. Teaming with organizations across the U.S., the Reporting Fellows’ work ranged from long-form pieces to creating a new beat for a news organization to developing innovative forms of storytelling. Here is some of the work produced and published by our 2021 Knight-Wallace Reporting Fellows.

Ana Galvañ for The Marshall Project

Lisa Armstrong, “Lost Opportunity, Lost Lives,” The Marshall Project in partnership with Mother Jones, June 29, 2021

A feature story on Covid-19 and the failure of prisons to prevent sickness and death among older inmate populations. Despite state Governors’ approval of early release for nonviolent offenders to reduce crowds in correctional facilities, Lisa Armstrong found older people – those most vulnerable to Covid-19 and least likely to reoffend – remained incarcerated.

Photograph by Arturo Olmos

Sindya Bhanoo, “You See So Much in Our Field You Wouldn’t Believe,” Texas Monthy, December 22, 2020
How the Digital Divide is Failing Texas Students,” Texas Monthly, April 8, 2021
Report Card,” for Mission Local, January – July 2021

When schools across the nation turned to distance-learning methods, Sindya Bhanoo reported on the large swaths of students left behind. She published a series for Texas Monthly on students without broadband access and bus drivers-turned-relief-workers delivering meals to the hungry in their communities. Her six-month multimedia project for Mission Local layered audio storytelling and illustration to examine the challenges faced by children during the public health crisis.

AP Photo/John Minchillo

J. Lester Feder, “They Just Launched a War,” Politico Magazine, May 9, 2021

In the aftermath of the racial justice protests against police brutality, injured protesters filed lawsuits in cities across the country. J. Lester Feder reports on the case against the City of Columbus, the violent video evidence, and the ruling condemning biased policing.

Maddie McGarvey for The New York Times

Mya Frazier, “When No Landlord Will Rent to You, Where Do You Go?” The New York Times Magazine, May 2021

Mya Frazer’s deeply reported story sheds light on credit bureaus and the permanent credit underclass in the U.S. Stained by low credit scores and rejected by rental companies, thousands of Americans resort to extended-stay motels as a last – and very expensive – refuge.

Mario Koran/The Guardian

Mario Koran, “Milwaukee Was Already Failing Students of Color. Covid Made it Worse,” The Guardian US, January 27, 2021
Race Against the Clock: The School Fighting to Save the Ojibwe Language Before its Elders Pass Away,” The Guardian US, April 7, 2021

Partnering with The Guardian US, Mario Koran published a series of stories on barriers to learning in Wisconsin’s marginalized schools upended by the pandemic. From a struggling public school in Milwaukee to the state’s only Objiwe immersion school, Koran reported on the long-reaching consequences of in-person school closings and what it means for those communities.

Image by Pola Maneli

Chris Outcalt, “He Thought What He Was Doing Was Good for People,” The Atlantic, August 13, 2021

For decades, the debate on healthcare in the U.S. has focused on affordability and accessibility with little talk about the millions of unnecessary surgeries performed annually. Chris Outcalt reveals the story behind a cardiologist who carried out thousands of avoidable heart surgeries, a whistle-blower, and why doctors get away with unnecessary procedures.

Nicholas St. Fleur by STAT News

Nicholas St. Fleur, “Health Experts Want to Prioritize People of Color for a Covid-19 Vaccine“, STAT, November 19, 2020
“‘Just Utter Chaos’: A Twitter Thread Offers a Window Into the Frustrating Search for Covid-19 Shots,” STAT, January 28, 2021
An Unusual 30th Birthday Gift: Why I Got a Colonoscopy So Young — And Documented Every Step,” STAT, June 22, 2021

Nicholas St. Fleur partnered with STAT News to create a new beat on the intersection of race, medicine, and the life sciences. He published a series of stories on the vaccine rollout and how Covid-19 disproportionately affects minority communities. St. Fleur’s fellowship partnership led to a permanent staff position at STAT News, where he is now is a general assignment reporter and associate editorial director of events.

Announcing the 2021-2022 Knight-Wallace Reporting Fellows

The University of Michigan announced today the Knight-Wallace Reporting Fellows for the 2021-2022 academic year. A cohort of 11 journalists from a range of backgrounds and experiences will participate in a remote fellowship to pursue and publish in-depth reporting projects during this unique year of transition and reopening. 

Created in 2020 to support ambitious journalism and respond to the remote needs of Covid-19, the Knight-Wallace Reporting Fellowships provide an academic year of support and collaborative learning. Fellows undertake projects examining pressing public challenges including social shifts precipitated by the pandemic, the nation’s deep economic and political divisions, and persistent social justice issues surrounding race, ethnicity and inequality.

“We are proud to welcome this new group of fellows and to provide them with the resources to report and write about complex and timely issues,” said Lynette Clemetson, director of Wallace House. “The depth and range of the proposals we received this year is a testament to journalists’ ongoing commitment to illuminating people’s lived experience and the structures that shape our society.” 

Knight-Wallace Reporting Fellows will remain where they live while participating in weekly remote workshops, professional development sessions and seminars with University of Michigan faculty and experts. Two one-week Fellowship Cohort sessions at Wallace House on the University of Michigan campus are planned for the 2021-2022 academic year, subject to public health guidance.

The Reporting Fellowship is designed to benefit both working journalists and U.S. newsrooms. Each Reporting Fellow will pair with a local or national news organization to develop and publish their reporting project. The support of the fellowship allows news organizations to pursue ambitious journalism that they may not have the staff or funding to support independently.

Knight-Wallace Reporting Fellows will receive a stipend of $70,000 for the academic year plus an additional $10,000 in supplemental support to cover extra costs including health insurance, reporting equipment and supplemental travel-related expenses.

This adapted fellowship takes the place of the traditional, residential Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellowship for the 2021-2022 academic year.

The Knight-Wallace Reporting Fellows and their reporting projects:

Assia Boundaoui, independent journalist, Chicago, Illinois
Redacted Stories: Reexamining FBI Surveillance Records of a Muslim-American Community

Nichole Dobo, Writer and Senior Editor for Audience Engagement, The Hechinger Report, Wilmington, Delaware
A Reckoning: Higher Education and Rural America
for The Hechinger Report

Daphne Duret, investigative reporter, USA Today, Lakeworth, Florida
Breaking Silence: The Plight of the Police Whistleblower
for USA Today

Jose Fermoso, Contributing Senior Reporter, The Oaklandside, Oakland, California
Oakland’s Deadly Roadways: Reckoning with Inequities in Urban Design
for The Oaklandside

Andrea González-Ramírez, independent journalist, New York City
A Watershed Moment for Addressing Sexual Violence in the U.S. Military

Erika Hayasaki, independent journalist, Southern California
History, Hate Crimes and Police Brutality: A Tale of Black and Asian American Lives in Two Cities
for The New Yorker

Jaeah Lee, independent journalist, San Francisco, California
Medical Fact vs. Fiction in Fatal Police Encounters

Surya Mattu, Investigative Data Journalist and Senior Data Engineer, The Markup, New York City
Watching the Watchers: Investigating How Smartphone Apps Are Used to Track Us
for The Markup

Simon Ostrovsky, Special Correspondent, PBS NewsHour, New York City
Modern Mythology: How Disinformation Bends Reality and How to Stop It
for PBS NewsHour

Elizabeth Scheltens, Senior Editorial Producer, Vox Media, Columbus, Ohio
Climate Resilience in the Great Lakes Region
for Vox

Kat Stafford, National Investigative Writer, Race and Ethnicity, The Associated Press, Detroit Michigan
From Birth to Death: How Generations of Black Americans Have Faced a Lifetime of Disparities
for The Associated Press

More about the Reporting Fellows and their reporting projects »

The Reporting Fellowship Experience

Forging new paths to produce in-depth journalism and finding a community of fellows along the way

Last year in response to a public health crisis, newsroom upheavals, international travel restrictions and uncertainty around on-campus instruction, Wallace House adapted our fellowship model to address the remote needs of Covid-19, awarding eleven Reporting Fellowships for journalists to report on major issues in a moment of great challenge and change.

It is a first for our program, which since the 1970s has been built around bringing journalists from around the world together for a residential experience in Ann Arbor. This year we work weekly with our 47th class of Fellows from their workspaces in Colorado, Texas, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Maryland, New York and Puerto Rico.

They gather with us remotely for seminars and workshops with university faculty and journalism change-makers. In spite of the confines of Zoom calls and virtual webinars, they’ve developed a supportive fellowship community. Beyond the scheduled activities, Fellows gather regularly in small groups or one-on-one, sharing tips, talking story structure and inspiring one another. Even remotely, the connection between our Fellows is palpable.

“The thing that surprised me most about the program is the interaction with other fellows, even in the remote model. It has been encouraging and inspiring.” Mya Frazier, Columbus, Ohio

Each Reporting Fellow is focusing on a project that requires several months to develop. For some, this working fellowship provides a chance to step back from fast turnaround work. For others, it offers a chance to develop something for a new media organization. And some are using the experience to experiment with new styles of storytelling or a new topic that they’ve wanted to explore.

“For me, the opportunity to spend nine months on a project is really unprecedented to be completely honest. It’s very rare to have that amount of time to really delve into one topic as a journalist.” – Alissa Figueroa, Baltimore, Maryland

While most of our fellows are working on long-form projects that will appear later in the year, some work has already been published as a result of the Reporting Fellowship.

With schools across the nation turning to distance-learning methods, Reporting Fellow Sindya Bhanoo reports on the large swaths of students being left behind. Sindya partnered with the non-profit news organization, Mission Local, to produce “Report Card,” her first illustrated audio piece. Using multimedia storytelling and poignant illustrations, the work is a touching look at the challenges faced by children during the continuing public health crisis. She is also developing a series for Texas Monthly. The first piece “You See So Much in Our Field You Wouldn’t Believe” chronicled San Antonio bus-drivers-turned-relief-workers delivering meals to the hungry in their communities.

Sindya Bhanoo rides along with bus driver, Bobby Richardson, as he delivers meals to families in need.

This year Reporting Fellow Ted Genoways is investigating how Covid-19 exposes threats to the nation’s food security and the risks posed to the safety of front-line food industry workers as well as consumers. In addition to developing his long-term project, Ted reported for The Washington Post feature “24 hours in the life of American workers.” From Nebraska, Ted profiled Eric Reeder, president of a food workers union, to tell of the hardships and barriers essential workers experience. With no end to the pandemic insight, these workers are faced with the ultimatum to continue to work in potentially unsafe conditions or risk losing the job.

The Reporting Fellowship has also benefited newsrooms by allowing them to partner with staffers or freelancers to pursue important editorial priorities. STAT News is partnering with Nicholas St. Fleur to create a new beat on the intersection of race, medicine and the life sciences. To date, Nick has published stories on the vaccine rollout and how Covid-19 disproportionately affects minority communities. In his role for STAT, Nick led a discussion with experts in a virtual event addressing how to prevent a black market for the vaccines.

Nicholas St. Fleur joined STAT News to cover the intersection of race and medicine and the life sciences.

The Knight-Wallace Reporting Fellowship is giving these journalists the flexibility and much-needed support to flourish within their space, produce journalism examining pressing issues, and be a part of the fellowship community that is a cherished hallmark of every Knight-Wallace class. As our Reporting Fellows continue on their fellowship journey we will be sure to share it with you.

We are repeating the remote fellowship for the upcoming academic year. Applications for the 2021-2022 Knight-Wallace Reporting Fellowship are now open. For more information on how to apply, please visit the apply page.

Announcing the Knight-Wallace Reporting Fellowship for 2021-2022

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 expertis
  • 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. 

View the Q&A Webinar

View the Q&A Webinar for Editors

More About the Reporting Fellowship

Who Should Apply

How to Apply

Application Timeline