Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellows announced
The Wallace House Center for Journalists and the University of Michigan have selected the 2023-24 Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellows—the 50th class in the program’s history.
Representing nine countries and a broad cross-section of the United States, the 19 fellows will pursue ambitious journalism projects, audit courses at the university and participate in weekly seminars with journalism leaders, scholars, media innovators and social change agents. Most seminars will take place at Wallace House, a gift from the late newsman Mike Wallace and his wife, Mary, and the program’s home base.
“These journalists and their compelling range of projects reflect the breadth of challenges journalists must understand—from the far-reaching societal impacts of climate change, to the rise of social media-fueled disinformation, to the unique challenges of reporting from countries ensnared in media crackdowns, wars or rampant violence,” said Lynette Clemetson, director of Wallace House.
“Now more than ever, the work of these and all journalists is essential to protecting and expanding democratic values. We are honored to support them.”
After a three-year pause on international news tours caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Wallace House plans to travel with this year’s cohort to South Korea in February 2024 to learn more about the country’s changing media environment and engage with its political and social landscape.
The fellowship started in 1973 with a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. This class will be joined by alumni from several decades in September 2023 for a weekend reunion honoring the history of the fellowship and the hundreds of journalists from around the world with ties to the program.
Wallace House’s Knight-Wallace Fellowship program is funded through endowment gifts from foundations, news organizations, individuals and ongoing contributions from funders committed to journalism’s role in fostering an informed and engaged public.
The 2023-2024 Knight-Wallace Fellows and their journalism projects:
Elizabeth Aguilera is an independent multimedia journalist focused on migration, environmental health and equity. She is an editor-at-large for Zócalo Public Square and a mentor and editor for Next Gen Radio. She will explore the impact of climate change on devastated areas of the U.S. that have already suffered from “environmental racism,” the disproportionate placement of hazardous materials near marginalized communities.
Roberson Alphonse is head of national news at le Nouvelliste, Haiti’s largest daily newspaper, and director of information at Radio Magik9, where he hosts a daily program. He survived an assassination attempt in October 2022 and was able to flee to Miami, where he has continued hosting his radio show. His project will focus on helping Haitian journalists navigate an increasingly volatile press environment.
Rustin Dodd is a senior reporter at The Athletic where he has written about subjects such as the impact of opioid abuse on professional baseball and the analytics revolution in Major League Baseball and the National Football League. He is the co-author of “Kingdom Quarterback: Patrick Mahomes, the Kansas City Chiefs, and How a Once Swingin’ Cow Town Chased the Ultimate Comeback.” He will examine the rise of legalized sports gambling in the U.S., its societal costs and its implications for sports media.
Sharif Hassan is a former Washington Post and New York Times reporter from Afghanistan who is now working in exile in Canada following the Taliban takeover of his country. His research will take a deep dive into environmental and sustainability challenges in North America, enabling him to report on these challenges with expertise and cross-regional context.
Peter Hoffman is an independent documentary photographer who has reported on environmental and climate issues for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, Bloomberg Businessweek and others. He will combine photography and narrative storytelling to explore the challenges of stewarding southeast Michigan watersheds—the primary, and often compromised, source of drinking water for numerous communities.
Yunhee Kim is the politics editor for Munhwa Ilbo, a daily newspaper in Seoul, where she has covered three presidential elections and numerous general and local elections, as well as multiple corruption scandals. She will explore how to strengthen Korean presidential election coverage in a hyper-polarized political climate.
Mila Koumpilova is a senior education reporter at Chalkbeat’s Chicago bureau, where she has reported on topics including the pandemic’s impact on vulnerable students and federal COVID-19 relief spending. She will explore how U.S. cities can strengthen programs that aim to re-engage unemployed young people who are not enrolled in high school or college—a goal that policymakers and experts see as key to fighting poverty, racial inequities and gun violence.
Efrat Lachter is an investigative correspondent for Israel’s Channel 12 News and the weekly newsmagazine Friday Studio. As the first female war correspondent in her newsroom, much of Lachter’s work has illuminated the lives of women in conflict zones such as Ukraine, Syria and Sudan. She will study ways to preserve journalistic integrity in unstable political contexts.
Victor Kai Shing Law is a senior reporter for AM730, a Hong Kong newspaper. He was previously a reporter for the Apple Daily newspaper and Stand News, both of which were forced to close amid a government crackdown on independent media. His research will illuminate the vision and mission of Hong Kong’s new experimental media, the challenges they face and strategies that could broaden their reach.
Kyrylo Loukerenko is executive director and co-founder of Hromadske Radio, an independent public broadcaster in Ukraine that provides nonpartisan news and opinion and has managed to remain on the air throughout the war. He will analyze the 2022-23 media response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the lessons learned from international coverage in order to develop recommendations for future media development in Ukraine.
Jamie Lowe is a frequent contributor to The New York Times Magazine and other publications, as well as the author of three books including “Breathing Fire: Female Inmate Firefighters on the Front Lines of California’s Wildfires.” Having previously embedded with the maternal-fetal medicine department at the Cleveland Clinic, Lowe will expand on this subject by reporting on evolving abortion law and the availability of reproductive health care in the Midwest.
Iuliia Mendel is an independent Ukrainian journalist, political commentator and opinion writer for The Washington Post who served as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s press secretary from June 2019 to July 2021. She wrote a book about this experience, titled “The Fight of Our Lives.” Her research will seek solutions to protect and empower truth-seeking journalists in Ukraine and around the world in a climate of growing populism.
Kwan Ling Mok is a visual journalist and filmmaker who recently reported for Hong Kong’s Ming Pao Weekly and Stand News. Her film “Far from Home,” about a family’s tumultuous experience during the 2019 protest movement, was banned after she refused demands from authorities to make 14 cuts to the 25-minute film. Mok will study Hong Kong’s psychological recovery from China’s recent crackdown, historical patterns of collective trauma and how journalism, especially visual journalism, can foster individual and societal healing.
Josh Raab is the former director of Instagram and TikTok at National Geographic, where he managed teams that oversaw 40 accounts with more than 325 million followers, including @NatGeo. He will explore how journalistic videos that have inherently challenging and difficult subject matter, such as climate change and conflict, can break through the algorithmic noise to reach younger audiences and combat misinformation on social platforms that often prioritize entertainment.
Tamanna Rahman is a U.K.-based investigative journalist and documentary filmmaker who has directed and reported for the BBC, Channel 4 and VICE. To lay the groundwork for a complex and multifaceted investigative documentary, Rahman plans to meticulously map food production and trade flows, examining the risks and long-term implications of a handful of unregulated companies and commodities traders controlling the main flows of food around the world.
Joshua Sharpe is a journalist with the San Francisco Chronicle whose reporting has helped free two innocent people from life in prison. He is writing a book for W.W. Norton and Co., titled “The Man No One Believed.” While tracking multiple cases of potential wrongful conviction, he will take criminal justice courses, study post-conviction relief and examine the unseen ways that such cases damage lives.
‘Fisayo Soyombo is the former managing editor of Sahara Reporters and editor-in-chief of Nigeria’s Foundation for Investigative Journalism. He is best known for “breaking into prison.” Posing as a criminal, he spent five days in a police cell and eight days as an inmate at Ikoyi Prison in Nigeria. While writing an expanded version of his 2019 investigation of the Nigerian criminal justice system, Soyombo will simultaneously explore prison reform, restorative justice and strategies for preventing and responding to inhumane and corrupt practices within prisons.
Ben Steverman is a reporter for Bloomberg News based in New York, where he has covered the wide and persistent racial wealth gap in the U.S., the pandemic’s effects on inequality, and the tax loopholes and philanthropic strategies deployed by the ultra-rich. His research will examine the broad social costs of the decline of American nightlife—which was struggling well before the pandemic—and what can be done to revive nightlife and help mend the country’s fraying social bonds.
Doris Truong is senior director of teaching and diversity strategies at the Poynter Institute of Media Studies. She previously worked at The Dallas Morning News and The Washington Post in roles ranging from copy editing to oversight of breaking news operations. She will study ways to help journalists better understand their own gaps in life experience around issues including race, gender, socioeconomics, sexual orientation and stage of life, to thereby strengthen newsgathering and news judgment.