Pulitzer Center Update

Announcing the Pulitzer Post-Graduate Reporting Fellowship Program

Congratulations to the inaugural 2020 Pulitzer Center Post-Graduate Reporting Fellows. Graphic by Lucy Crelli.

Congratulations to the inaugural 2020 Pulitzer Center Post-Graduate Reporting Fellows. Graphic by Lucy Crelli.

Editor's note on August 10, 2020: This post has been updated to include the second Columbia Journalism School Post-Graduate Reporting Fellows cohort.

The Pulitzer Center Campus Consortium is pleased to announce a new joint initiative: The Post-Graduate Reporting Fellowship Program for Columbia and Medill Journalism Schools.

With funding from both journalism schools, the Pulitzer Center will offer fellowships to recent graduates. Fellowships for at least 10 students at each school have been made available. Reporting Fellow selections will be made jointly by the university and the Pulitzer Center based on applications that include project proposals.

"We are very pleased to be working with the Pulitzer Center to support ambitious reporting in the public interest by graduates from the Class of 2020," said Columbia Journalism School Dean of Academic Affairs Sheila S. Coronel.

“The work of journalists is especially important right now, and we are grateful that the Pulitzer Center supports the work of Medill students as they report and share underreported stories through the post-graduate program,” Assistant Professor and Director of Global Journalism Learning at Medill Ceci Rodgers commented.

Fellows receive mentorship from the Pulitzer Center team, which will also pair each Fellow with an adviser who has a particular interest or expertise in the Reporting Fellow's proposed project.

Kem Knapp Sawyer, Pulitzer Center Contributing Editor who heads the Reporting Fellow Program, said, “We're excited to work with Columbia and Medill Journalism Schools and to provide reporting opportunities for graduates, especially given the pandemic. All the Fellows have chosen fascinating topics—on stories that need to be heard. They're looking for creative, practical, and safe ways to report during challenging times.”

Below is a list of our 2020 Post-Graduate Reporting Fellows, including descriptions of their proposed projects. This list will be updated as more Fellows are announced.

Columbia Journalism School Post-Graduate Reporting Fellowships

Amel Brahmi will explore the rise of female imams in the U.S., focusing especially on an aspiring female imam at the Women’s Mosque of America in Los Angeles. There are only a handful of female imams throughout the world, most of them located in the U.S.

Zoe Chevalier plans to report on non-unanimous jury convictions in Louisiana, delving into the case of Ricky Davis. Despite the fact the Supreme Court ruled such convictions unconstitutional in 2020, individuals sentenced before the ruling, such as Davis, do not qualify for appeals.

Chloé Lula examines the struggle for transgender rights in Tbilisi, Georgia, as the country’s ruling Georgian Dream party denies the transgender community COVID-19 coverage. Her project focuses on this issue through the lens of Madona Kiparoidze, a transgender woman who set herself on fire to protest the Georgian government's policy.

Agostino Petroni will document the massive die-off of olive trees in Puglia, Italy, due to the bacteria Xylella fastidiosa. Since 2012, the region has lost roughly one third of its 60 million olive trees as residents and the government refused to take drastic containment measures recommended by scientists.

Sara Sheridan’s reporting project follows the pandemic struggles of two restaurants, an award-winning establishment in rural Virginia with deep ties to Appalachia and a Black-owned, tasting menu-only restaurant in Harlem. Through these two narratives, she examines how the trillion-dollar restaurant industry is grappling with questions related to class, race, and structural power.


The following fellowships for Columbia Journalism School postgraduates were announced on August 10, 2020.

Muriel Alarcon reports on how community organizations are promoting nutrition and healthy eating habits across New York City’s Latino neighborhoods. In addition to combatting food deserts, these efforts help build up immune systems amongst a population hit disproportionately hard by COVID-19.

Musinguzi Blanshe’s project focuses on Uganda’s Local Defense Units (LDUs), a new security force that was recruited to stem insecurity in urban areas but is now implicated in torturing citizens. In addition to torture, LDUs have killed at least seven Ugandans while enforcing COVID-19 curfew orders.

Bianca Fortis will examine the effects of phosphate mining on local communities and wildlife in Central Florida. Despite generating $12.2 billion for the region in 2016, phosphate is radioactive and potentially linked to rising local cases of Leukemia, Parkinson’s, and other diseases.

Anastassia Gliadkovskaya documents how social media posts influence Russian-American voters in New York City. A native-Russian speaker, Gliadkovskaya plans to investigate what kinds of messages are being shared by voters and if they mimic those being spread in Russia.

Aryana Noroozi’s reporting project follows refugees affected by the 100-day closure of most U.S. immigration courts that began in March 2020. The COVID-19-induced closures created a backlog of thousands of asylum hearings and put some minors at risk of losing their Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.

Sadia Rafiquddin traces the story of Franca Panettone, a 46-year-old with Down syndrome who became Hernando County, Florida’s first COVID-19 death. Panettone had never spent a moment without her sisters or mother by her side, yet she did not obtain a patient advocate once hospitalized and her family was denied visitation.

Isobel Thompson’s project centers on the O’Reilly sisters, seven Irish Traveller siblings who were sexually abused by their father over the course of 23 years. Irish Travellers, particularly women in the community, face racism, neglect, and health issues as well as a corresponding lack of intervention by the U.K. and Irish governments.

Medill Post-Graduate Reporting Fellowships

Elena Bruess reports on the impact of COVID-19 on the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago, a primarily Mexican-American community that had the highest positive coronavirus rates in the city in June. She focuses her project on the neighborhood’s Esperanza Health Center, an organization providing healthcare for underserved Latinx communities, in order to tell stories of disparities but also resilience.

Jack Kelly will detail the mental health crisis confronting Wisconsin’s dairy farmers. Already faced with financial difficulties, America’s Dairyland was hit especially hard by the pandemic, and suicides and other mental health challenges have risen at alarming rates within the community.

Areeba Shah’s project highlights the mental and physical toll the pandemic has taken on migrant farmworkers in Michigan and Ohio. These workers often experience overcrowded living conditions, limited healthcare, and exploitive labor practices that put them at increased risk of COVID-19.

Congratulations to our inaugural class of 2020 Post-Graduate Reporting Fellows!