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Pulitzer Center Update July 1, 2021

Pulitzer Center Announces 2021 Persephone Miel Fellows

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2021 Persephone Miel Fellows
2021 Persephone Miel Fellows Elena Stancu (left) and Laís Martins (right). Images courtesy of Elena Stancu and Laís Martins.


The Pulitzer Center is pleased to announce the selection of two reporters for the 2021 Persephone Miel Fellowship.

The Persephone Miel Fellowship focuses on supporting journalists from outside the U.S. and Western Europe who are pursuing ambitious reporting projects that tackle underreported issues in their home countries. Launched in partnership with Internews, a media development nonprofit, the Miel Fellowship enables reporters to bring their work to a broader global audience. Winners receive a travel grant of $5,000 from the Pulitzer Center and mentoring from a journalist in the Pulitzer Center network. 

This year, journalist Elena Stancu, from Romania, will report on the Romanian diaspora in Europe. Romania is the country in Europe with the most citizens living abroad, 14.6%. In 2019, Stancu began reporting on the 5 million Romanians who left to work abroad. Now, she plans to complete her reporting project in the United Kingdom, where Romanian immigrants are affected by Brexit and the coronavirus crisis. Through the Miel Fellowship, she will spend six months in the U.K. reporting on the struggles of Romanians who became undocumented immigrants.

Stancu was a deputy editor-in-chief at Marie Claire Romania and has won several journalism awards and grants, including a fellowship from the Carter Center in the U.S. and the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence. Her reporting focuses on extreme poverty, domestic violence, life in Romanian prisons, the drug crisis in Romanian hospitals, racism, discrimination, and migration.

“The Miel Fellowship is an opportunity for me to reach an international audience that I don’t commonly reach,” Stancu said. “It is a recognition of my work on such a complex documentary project as the one about the Romanian immigrants in Europe. This kind of project requires a lot of resources – including financial – and a lot of support. The Miel Fellowship offers me that support and gives me courage to continue this kind of journalistic work.”

Laís Martins, from the Netherlands, will report on how the increased circulation of firearms in Brazil is affecting women. President Jair Bolsonaro's pro-gun agenda has gravely affected women of all ages. From women who have survived femicide attempts to a mother who lost her 14-year-old daughter to gun violence, there are many stories to be told. With the assistance of the fellowship, Martins plans to travel around Brazil and meet with sources who will speak to how gun violence is leading to fatalities in Brazilian women. 

Martins is a Brazilian journalist currently based between São Paulo and Amsterdam, where she obtained her master’s in political communication. She has worked as a reporter for Reuters in Brazil and is now a freelancer for Brazilian and international news outlets. Her work focuses on human rights, politics, society, and technology. Over the past year, Martins has dedicated part of her coverage to the effects of increased gun circulation in Brazil as a result of Bolsonaro’s policies.

“What scares me is the change of discourse, how in just a few years, more people have grown comfortable with defending that civilians should have access to firearms,” Martins said. “This fellowship is the perfect opportunity to work on this story because it requires time, attention to detail, and respect for the women whose stories will be told. It's an opportunity that nowadays is rarely afforded inside a traditional newsroom.”

Congratulations to our 2021 Persephone Miel Fellows! To learn more about the fellowship and view past Fellows' reporting projects, click here.


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