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.
Taking Action to Support Journalists and Uphold Democracy
For more than three decades, Wallace House Center for Journalists at the University of Michigan has provided support for journalists at risk. This World Press Freedom Day, we remain steadfast in our mission and ask for your support to help journalists under siege around the world.
Every year, through the Knight-Wallace Fellowships for Journalists, we provide an academic year of support, serving as a life-saving bridge for journalists who face crises in their home countries. Wallace House has created a safe haven for journalists from a wide range of countries, including Rwanda, Mexico, India, Russia and Afghanistan.
With autocracies on the rise around the world, more journalists are in need of emergency support.
Some appeals come from here in the U.S., as in the case of Mexican journalist Emilio Gutiérrez Soto who came to Ann Arbor from an ICE detention facility in El Paso, Texas. He joined the 2018-2019 Knight-Wallace Fellowship class as a Senior Press Freedom Fellow. Gutiérrez is seeking asylum in the United States following death threats in his home country related to his reporting. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, more than 150 journalists have been killed in Mexico since 2000.
The need for urgent assistance also comes from international reporters like Jawad Sukhanyar, a 2019 Knight-Wallace Fellow targeted by the Taliban for his work with The New York Times. Escaping chaos and gunfire at the Kabul airport and hiding in the city for several days, Sukhanyar and his family were evacuated out of Afghanistan in August 2021 through an extraordinary effort led by The New York Times. He returned to the university as a journalist-in-residence with the Donia Human Rights Center and the International Institute, a position sponsored by Wallace House. Next fall, Sukhanyar will join the university’s Department of Communications as the Marsh Visiting Professor of Journalism. He will teach courses on global threats to press freedom and the media’s role in the rise and fall of democracies.
Elena Milashina is a 2010 Knight-Wallace Fellow and investigative reporter for “Novaya Gazeta,” Russia’s last remaining independent news outlet before it ceased publication in response to threats of imprisonment from the Putin regime. Facing death threats for her fierce reporting on human rights abuses in Chechnya and Russia, Milashina discusses the demise of a free press under Putin’s government in the video above. Now a journalist without an outlet to publish her reporting, she’s currently working on three projects and remains determined to continue championing the truth. Wallace House is committed to helping Milashina work from a place of safety.
Beyond individual support to journalists under siege, our Knight-Wallace Fellowships provide journalists access to resources and world renown authorities to develop expertise or create new ventures addressing press safety.
During his time as a Knight-Wallace Fellow, Laurent Richard created Forbidden Stories, a nonprofit newsroom to continue and publish the work of other journalists facing threats, prison or murder. Now an award-winning news collaboration, his organization secretly brought together 60 reporters from 18 countries to complete the reporting of slain journalist Regina Martinez and expose a global network of Mexican drug cartels and their political connections worldwide.
Elodie Vialle spent her Knight-Wallace Fellowship designing a training curriculum and consulting with experts to develop solutions to counter online harassment against journalists. Now recognized as an international expert on this subject, she has trained more than 400 journalists worldwide on how they can protect themselves online and is a consultant for PEN America’s Online Abuse Defense Program.
Play a role in protecting the lives of journalists.
Today, your support will help us defend the role of a free and independent press by extending a lifeline to journalists around the world. Donate now.
To learn more about how to make a major gift in support of these efforts, please contact Jayson Rose, senior development officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
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.
The University of Michigan announced today the Knight-Wallace Reporting Fellows for the 2020-2021 academic year. A cohort of 11 journalists from a range of backgrounds and experiences will participate in the newly created working fellowship, a reimagined Wallace House program designed to support ambitious reporting projects and adapted to the remote needs of Covid-19.
The Knight-Wallace Reporting Fellowships will provide an academic year of support and collaborative learning for journalists to pursue and publish rigorous projects examining pressing public challenges ranging from the responses to the prolonged pandemic to persistent social justice issues surrounding race, ethnicity and inequality. 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.
“Finding a meaningful way to adapt our fellowship to meet this moment was essential. Directing our experience and resources toward direct support for journalists allows us to have an immediate impact in a moment when substantive reporting is of vital importance,” said Lynette Clemetson, Director of Wallace House. “The robust response we received to this newly structured Reporting Fellowship is a testament to the desire of reporters to serve the public and help move society forward.”
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.
“We are in an unprecedented time,” said LaSharah S. Bunting, Director of Journalism at Knight Foundation, a supporter of the fellowship programs. “These Reporting Fellowships allow individual journalists and news organizations to offer in-depth reporting to their communities on the critical issues of the day.”
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 2020-2021 academic year.
The Knight-Wallace Reporting Fellows and their reporting projects:
Lisa Armstrong, multimedia journalist and associate professor, New York City Reporting Project: Covid-19 in Correctional Facilities for The Marshall Project
Sindya Bhanoo, independent reporter, Austin, Texas Reporting Project: Distance Learning and Inequality in Public Schools for Mission Local
Valeria Collazo Cañizares, investigative journalist, San Juan, Puerto Rico Reporting Project: Waterless Island: Converging Crises and the Water Shortage in Puerto Rico for Telemundo
J. Lester Feder, independent journalist, Ypsilanti, Michigan Reporting Project: Inequality and the Transformation of the Cities and Suburbs of the Midwest
Alissa Figueroa, senior editor and producer, Baltimore, Maryland Reporting Project: Police Reform Five Years After the Death of Freddie Gray for Type Investigations
Mya Frazier, independent business reporter, Columbus, Ohio Reporting Project: Private Power: The Impact of the Economic Crisis on the Working Poor for Bloomberg Businessweek
Ted Genoways, independent writer and producer, Lincoln, Nebraska Reporting Project: Food Security and Worker Safety on the Front Lines of the Pandemic
Mario Koran, contributing reporter, Milwaukee, Wisconsin Reporting Project: Barriers to Learning in Three Marginalized School Districts Upended by the Pandemic for The Guardian US
Chris Outcalt, independent magazine writer, Denver, Colorado Reporting Project: The Powerful Forces Behind Medical Fraud
Nicholas St. Fleur, independent science reporter, Palo Alto, California Reporting Project: Racial Bias in Science, Health, and Medicine for STAT
Mazin Sidahmed, co-executive director of Documented, New York City Reporting Project: The Role of Local Police in Federal Immigration Enforcement for Documented
Wallace House at the University of Michigan is committed to fostering excellence in journalism. We are home to programs that recognize, sustain and elevate the careers of journalists to address the challenges of journalism, foster civic engagement and uphold the role of a free press in a democratic society. We believe in the fundamental mission of journalism to document, interpret, analyze and investigate the forces shaping society.
About Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit kf.org.
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.
A Working Fellowship for Ambitious Journalism on an Evolving Future
Each year the Knight-Wallace Fellowships at the University of Michigan summon journalists from around the world to think boldly about their craft and enhance their skills to meet the needs of a changing industry. Alongside the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, lingering inequality and social strife are fueling calls for systemic change. The need for rigorous, in-depth journalism is ever more critical. In response, Wallace House is redirecting our resources to fuel ambitious journalism on these converging forces and efforts toward a reimagined world.
For the coming academic year, we are turning our Knight-Wallace Fellowship model outward, to fund long-term reporting projects examining momentous challenges and responses in this year of converging crises. We’ll select a cohort of ten accomplished journalists with different backgrounds and experience for a working fellowship to report on our most pressing issues, from social shifts precipitated by the pandemic to persistent social justice issues surrounding race, ethnicity and inequality.
The Knight-Wallace Reporting Fellowship will take the place of our traditional, residential Knight-Wallace Fellowship for the 2020-21 academic year in response to continued uncertainty about close gathering and in-person instruction. Selected Fellows will not be required to leave their news organizations or places of work. This adapted fellowship will maintain our multidisciplinary approach and cohort-based philosophy.
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 ten Knight-Wallace Reporting Fellows will also receive professional development and digital seminars with researchers and experts tackling challenges across a range of fields and disciplines. Fellows will have remote access to research and resources at the University of Michigan and regular opportunities for engagement with faculty and students.
We want to encourage ambitious reporting projects that step back from breaking and incremental coverage. As the world grapples with huge questions and complex solutions, we need journalists to investigate, scrutinize, analyze and explain the process and outcomes.
When in-person gathering becomes possible and we can ensure a safe experience for our Fellows, we will host one-week Fellowship Cohort sessions in Ann Arbor at Wallace House and a final symposium on campus at the University of Michigan, highlighting the reporting work produced during the fellowship.
Applications must be submitted by July 7. Reporting Fellowship offers will be extended on July 31.
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.
The Knight-Wallace Reporting Fellowship for the 2020-2021 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 from social shifts precipitated by the pandemic to persistent social justice issues surrounding race, ethnicity and inequality
A remote structure that allows staff reporters to remain with their news organizations and freelancers to remain in their place of work
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 2020 through April 2021
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, 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 July 7, 2020.
Applications are now open. The deadline to apply is at 11:59 pm ET on Tuesday, July 7.
The Reporting Fellowship offers will be extended on Friday, July 31.
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 will hold a Q&A webinar at 12:30 pm ET on June 19. We encourage interested applicants to join the call and ask questions. Newsroom editors who would like to know more about this opportunity for reporters on their team are also invited to join.
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.
I wrapped up my Knight-Wallace Fellowship in April 2018. Thirteen months later I was at Cipriani’s in New York City, sharing the red carpet with Billy Porter and the cast of “The Good Place.” I was there with my colleagues from Michigan Radio, accepting a Peabody Award for “Believed,” our podcast about the women who brought down serial sexual predator Larry Nassar. I was the project’s executive producer and head of a newly launched podcasting unit – two roles that seemed out of reach before the fellowship.
“Believed” is the first nationally-produced podcast by Michigan Radio, an NPR affiliate that covers news across the state. It is one of the most in-depth, significant projects that we’ve ever taken on as a newsroom and a station and it became the first podcast produced by a member station to be distributed by NPR. The series topped the Apple Podcast chart one week after its debut and remained in the top 30 throughout the next eight weeks. In addition, being recognized with a Peabody Award, my colleagues Lindsey Smith and Kate Wells received the Livingston Award for the podcast series. None of these honors mean as much to us as the many letters and emails we received from survivors who said they were moved by our story. They’re the reason why we did the podcast: to help people understand how Nassar was able to abuse so many girls and women for so long, and how you could have missed it, too.
The podcast was a remarkable team effort: reporters, editors, producers, fact-checkers, lawyers. You can hear each of their names in the credits, along with a list of thank yous to folks who helped out on individual episodes.
The Knight-Wallace Fellowship wasn’t mentioned in the credits, but it may as well have been. For me, the fellowship gave me the confidence and skills to advocate for myself as executive producer of this major new project. And it gave me time.
Time away from deadlines. Time to focus on craft. Time to envision the next phase of my career.
The Fellowship intentionally, methodically pushes reporters out of their comfort zones. For some, that means taking courses in rocket science or Russian literature. For others, it means taking a modern dance class and pushing past what it feels like to learn something new in a room with trained 20-year-olds who know what they are doing. The goal is to step beyond what we’re used to in the newsroom and, instead, to sit in that moment of tension and discomfort and let it affect you.
I don’t pretend to speak for everybody who’s gone through the fellowship, but I can wholeheartedly say that for me, having the opportunity to step away from the daily news grind for nine months was liberating, and career-changing.
When I got to the University of Michigan, I thought about stories in terms of how they fit into four-and-a-half-minute radio features because that’s what I knew how to do; it’s what got me in the fellowship in the first place. But during those nine months as a Knight-Wallace Fellow, I got to entertain the possibility of something bigger. I spent hours talking to students about campus climate and civil discourse and explored new (to me) books in an ethnographic writing class with Ruth Behar. Jeremy Levine’s class on nonprofit business strategies was particularly inspiring, and, with help from Wallace House director Lynette Clemetson, helped me hone my own plan for where I wanted to take my work. By the time I left the fellowship, I had developed a vision – and an editorial and business pitch – for how to create a podcast unit within Michigan Radio.
I took that pitch back to Michigan Radio and immediately started work on “Believed” as the executive producer. As an executive producer, I was responsible for the overall production and execution of the nine-episode podcast. Since “Believed,” I’ve been working on podcasts full time. I’m now in charge of our nascent podcast unit and am currently developing limited-run and serialized shows for the station. We just released a five-part series about identity called “Same Same Different,” featuring one of my incredibly talented fellow Fellows, Regina H. Boone. My team and I are hard at work on a narrative podcast that will drop around the 2020 election. Stay tuned!
All this is to say: Apply! I don’t know how many times in your life you’ll have the opportunity to talk anytime you want to with some of the smartest people on the planet, to spend time with journalists from all over the world, to take a minute to wonder about what stories the world really needs to hear, see and read right now… and to develop the methods and frameworks to tell them.
The Knight-Wallace Fellowships for Journalists at the University of Michigan are accepting applications from U.S. applicants for the 2020-21 academic year. We’re looking for accomplished journalists eager for growth and deeply committed to the future of journalism. The deadline to apply is February 1, 2020.