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Pulitzer Center Update June 16, 2021

Reporting Fellow Alums Offer Advice to 2021 Class

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Screenshot of Reporting Fellow thumbnails on Zoom meeting.
Alums join 2021 Pulitzer Center Reporting Fellows on Zoom. Image by Kem Knapp Sawyer. United States, 2021.

Five Reporting Fellow alums welcomed the new 2021 Reporting Fellows, discussed their own projects, and shared sound advice and practical tips during a virtual orientation that took place over Zoom the week of June 4.

This year's 48 Campus Consortium Reporting Fellows represent many diverse backgrounds and countries and will cover a wide range of issues, from climate change to public health. Among the topics are challenges faced by the Rohingya and South Sudanese diasporas in the U.S., the politics of art in Kashmir, the secret of longevity, the rights of immigrant veterans and transgender people, and racism in public school systems.

"Ask your sources whose voices need to be heard" was advice given by 2020 Reporting Fellow alum Julia Knoerr, a Davidson College graduate who is now an editorial intern with The American Prospect. Knoerr reported on Indigenous rights based on the use of community radio in Southern California.

Knoerr talked about the importance of being flexible. Responding to COVID restrictions, she adapted quickly, reporting near her hometown instead of Oaxaca, Mexico. She also recommended a useful resource: Trint transcription.

2020 Alum Chloé Lula received her master's from Columbia Journalism School and is now working as an independent journalist in Berlin. Her project focused on a transgender sex worker in Tbilisi, Georgia. Lula stressed the importance of being upfront with sources about the consequences of telling personal stories. She started her project with "big picture" research and recommended using Google Scholar. She is also a fan of the Scrivener app for organizing notes and creating story cards.

Now an assistant editor of science and technology at The Conversation and co-host of The Conversation's weekly global news podcast, 2019 alum Daniel Merino, from Boston University's College of Communication, reported on attribution science and "the first provable tragedy in a climate-changed world": the 2018 Japan heat wave.

Merino advised engaging readers in science stories with good storytelling and strong characters. Get to know your sources: "Scientists and researchers love to chat."

"Be persistent, but not bothersome," 2020 alum Francesca Bentley, a Spelman graduate who will pursue a master's in international policy at Stanford this fall, told the Fellows. Bentley's story, "Coming to America: It's Not Like the Movie," explored the experience of immigrants with racism while profiling individuals from Kenya and Gabon who arrived in Maine knowing little about what awaits them. Her takeaway: Do not interject your own beliefs into your reporting.

Kayla Hui, a Boston University School of Public Health graduate, is now a health reporter for Beyond Type 1, a nonprofit diabetes organization. She spoke to the importance of covering mental health and showing disparities in health care. Like Lula, Hui also focused on protecting sources, and she left us with a good multimedia tip: "Test your mike." And "take 3"—both in video and photography—and you'll get a better shot.

Throughout the week, our Campus Consortium Advisory Council also shared takeaways, as did our editors: Be open to change and new possibilities. Get the facts right (in other words, “if your mother tells you she loves you, check it out”). Show respect and listen. Connect and collaborate with local reporters. Take time to nurture relationships. Ask your sources: "What have I missed?" Think on your feet. Put safety front and center. Never be afraid to ask for help. And, of course, save and back up your notes.

Orientation week provided a slew of resources for our Fellows. As Campus Consortium Advisory Council member and Howard University journalism professor Ingrid Sturgis said at the Reporting Fellows orientation, “You are each other’s most important resources.”

Thank you to the alums, the Council, and the Pulitzer Center team for adding to the mix.