Eight Minority Journalists Named International Reporting Fellows

Mar 42011
  • International Reporting Fellows, from left to right: Perla Trevizo, Cindy Rodriguez, Tina Pamintuan, Nick Shields, Naomi Abraham, Janell Ross, Bolanle Omisore, Bobby Caina Calvan.

A program designed to help minority journalists to gain experience covering international issues began this week in Washington, DC. From a pool of 100 applicants, eight fellows were selected for this new initiative, funded by the Ford Foundation and run by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ).

The reporters competed on their basis of story proposals. The winning entries focused on everything from the use of solar energy in rural Nigeria to the Obama administration’s food-aid policy in Haiti. The pieces will be published or broadcast by the reporters’ respective news organizations.

At a time when newsrooms are cutting back on their foreign bureaus, these young reporters will bring home global news about issues of interest to their local communities. The program also helps to level the playing field so that more minority journalists can work either as foreign correspondents—or go abroad for special assignments.

To mark the launch, ICFJ organized a panel discussion at the National Press Club on "Covering Egypt: The Media and the Revolution." ICFJ’s president, Joyce Barnathan, introduced the eight participants to a crowd of 300 guests eager to explore the media’s role in the uprisings spreading throughout the Middle East.

The first International Reporting Fellows and their projects are:

Naomi Abraham, a writer for Women’s E-News, will report on the travails and successes of gay communities in Kenya and Uganda.

Bobby Caina Calvan, a freelance journalist, will examine tribal medicine in Laos and how traditional beliefs are changing the way the California health-care system treats medical problems in the large Indochinese immigrant community.

Bolanle Omisore of ABC News and Nigerian News 24 will look at how large-scale solar energy projects are transforming life in rural Nigeria.

Tina Pamintuan, who teaches at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism, will travel to the Philippines to produce multimedia stories on the preservation of indigenous music that captures the people’s social and environmental struggles.

Cindy Rodriguez, a freelance journalist, will look at how yeshivas in Israel try to suppress gay Orthodox Jewish men and how this relates to a growing movement in the United States to discourage rabbis from steering gay people into therapy to change their sexual orientation.

Janell Ross of The Huffington Post will track the impact of the Obama administration’s Feed the Future initiative in Haiti—as it shifts its focus from importing food from the United States to promoting agriculture in Haiti.

Nicholas Shields of WTTW, a PBS affiliate in Chicago, will track the debate over immigration through the proposed Dream Act, designed to help good students become citizens. He will tell the story of an immigrant student and the family she left behind in Mexico.

Perla Trevizo of the Chattanooga Times Free Press will write about Guatemalan immigrants who have settled in Tennessee and Georgia—and their connections to the families they left behind.

The fellows will report overseas for up to three weeks and will be mentored by foreign correspondents and experts on the ground. The fellows participated in a three-day orientation at ICFJ that included brainstorming sessions, multimedia training, tips on packaging stories, and guidance on working with mentors.

The Brooks and Joan Fortune Family Foundation provided additional funding for this program.