The Pulitzer Center is pleased to announce that WBEZ race, class, and communities reporter Natalie Y. Moore has been selected as our second 2020 Richard C. Longworth Media Fellow.
A collaboration with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, the Richard C. Longworth Media Fellowships promote international reporting by Chicago and Midwestern journalists. Fellowships in the amount of $10,000 will be awarded each year for the next two years, thanks to a grant provided by The Clinton Family Fund to honor Longworth, a former Chicago Tribune foreign correspondent and current Distinguished Fellow at the Chicago Council.
The fellowships hope to reconnect Midwestern readers with international stories that impact their daily lives, after years of financial pressure forced regional outlets to cut foreign correspondents from their staffs. For her fellowship project, Moore will travel to Finland to report on the country's criminal justice reform and "open prison" system.
"I think of myself as a global citizen," said Moore, who covers such issues as segregation and inequality for Chicago NPR affiliate WBEZ. "I am Chicago over everything, do-or-die South Side, but I also understand that I figure into a larger world. I'm always fascinated to see how other places do things. We think that we're America, we do everything the best, but I think there's a lot to learn from other corners of the world."
Prior to joining WBEZ's staff in 2007, Moore was a reporter for The Detroit News, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, and the Associated Press in Jerusalem. Her award-winning work has appeared in outlets including the BBC, The Chicago Reporter, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago Tribune, and Ebony, and has focused on topics such as race, housing, economic development, food injustice, and violence.
In Finland, Moore hopes to connect her coverage of Finnish prisons and race issues with the ongoing prison abolition movement and fight for racial justice in Chicago. Implemented as part of a decades-long reform effort, Finland's 11 "open prisons" lack gates and locks. Incarcerated individuals, who apply to stay in the facilities, can come and go in cars, earn money, and have access to the internet.
"I've been intrigued by this notion of utopia, and utopia, as Thomas More wrote, means 'nowhere,'" Moore commented on the idea behind her project. "I also think that utopia is a journey [...] If we just took the shackles off of what we can't do, what would a just Chicago look like? What would utopia look like?"
While Finland ranks high on gender equality, low on corruption, and has one of the world's lowest incarceration and recidivism rates, the country has faced a wave of discrimination against African migrants in recent years. Moore also wants to explore what it's like to be African within such a homogenous society and how the country is addressing these social problems.
While the prison system and reforms might not be perfect, Moore still believes Midwestern audiences will benefit greatly from reading about these issues in Finland.
"I think a lot of my work as a reporter at WBEZ, as well as my book [The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation], is looking at structural problems," Moore said. "This question of utopia to me is the next step of really using imagination to look at better systems and to see if those better systems could apply to Chicago."