The Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute has awarded nine fellowships for the 2018–19 academic year that address ways to reach underserved audiences, improve the quality and reach of video and data-driven stories, coordinate the coverage of breaking news and help high school students identify reliable sources of news and information.

The 12th class of fellows was selected from 355 applicants worldwide.

“The projects our fellows will be delving into are a nice mix of some of the most interesting and important trends in journalism today,” said RJI Executive Director Randy Picht. “We’re delighted to have the opportunity to work with this talented group of journalists, technologists and educators.”

There are three types of RJI Fellowships: residential, nonresidential and institutional. Residential fellows spend eight months on the University of Missouri campus. Nonresidential fellows explore their ideas from their home or office, with an occasional visit to campus. Those with institutional fellowships work on projects that leverage resources at their company or startup.

The 2018–19 residential fellows are Nicolette Gendron from The New York Times and Thomas Seymat from Euronews.

Those receiving institutional fellowships are Fergus Bell with Dig Deeper Media, Michael Morisy of MuckRock and Kelly Whitney of iCivics.

The nonresidential fellows will be Madeleine Bair with El Tímpano, Meredith Broussard of New York University, Simon Galperin of the Community Information Cooperative and Jarrad Henderson with the National Association of Black Journalists.

Meet the class

Madeleine BairMadeleine Bair, a journalist and human rights documentarian, wants to bridge the divide between mainstream and ethnic media. She will prototype El Tímpano, a mobile news bulletin for working-class Latino immigrants in northern California, and develop tools to help others engage with underserved news audiences.

Fergus BellFergus Bell, co-founder of Pop-up Newsroom, and his project partner Tom Trewinnard, will develop and test a playbook that helps journalists collaborate on breaking news events such as natural disasters, terrorist attacks and protests. The playbook will make it easier for reporters to tell more accurate, evidence-based stories in real time.

Meredith BroussardMeredith Broussard teaches data journalism at New York University. She’s interested in “future-proofing” the news by establishing an archive for hard-to-save, born-digital content that can be viewed on tomorrow’s devices. Broussard’s project was inspired by the investigative reporting software she wrote as part of her new book, “Artificial Unintelligence: How Computers Misunderstand the World.” Broussard will work with her own team at NYU, as well as Edward McCain, RJI digital curator of journalism.

Simon GalperinSimon Galperin, founder and director of the Community Information Cooperative, will address underperforming local news ecosystems by building special taxing zones called community information districts. Info districts let geographic communities design and fund their ideal news and information sources.

Nicolette GendronNicolette Gendron, a freelance writer and strategist at The New York Times, will evaluate the barriers to news access at small-town high schools while in residence at the Missouri School of Journalism. Her goals are to help news organizations get a better understanding of how news is consumed and shared among teenagers and to help students see more of themselves in the media they consume.

Jarrad HendersonJarrad Henderson chairs the Visual Task Force for the National Association of Black Journalists. During the fellowship he will develop a digital resource guide offering best practices, ethical considerations and tools for visual journalists bridging the gap between editorial video and documentary filmmaking.

Michael MorisyMichael Morisy, co-founder of MuckRock, will improve and deploy his nonprofit’s latest tool, MuckRock Assignments. It’s a simple, re-usable crowdsourcing platform that helps newsrooms manage user submissions while helping turn raw documents into clean data sets.

Thomas SeymatThomas Seymat is an immersive journalism and VR editor at Euronews in France. While in residence at RJI, he will develop a tool to gather research on how audiences respond to 360 videos and other VR content. This information will allow news organizations to improve their immersive stories and advertisers to monetize this type of content more effectively.

Kelly WhitneyKelly Whitney is chief product and partnerships officer for iCivics, a nonprofit civics education organization that reaches five million students each year. Working with teachers, RJI’s network of news experts and the iCivics team, Dr. Whitney will develop classroom tools to help high school students find reliable, journalistically sound information when conducting online research.


For more information on the RJI Fellowship program, contact Associate Director Mike McKean.


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