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The University of Michigan has announced its 44th class of Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellows. The new group consists of 12 U.S. and seven international journalists.
Fellows spend a year working together in the University’s Wallace House, where they participate in collaborative seminars and workshops, while simultaneously working on individual courses of study. The group engages with scholars from all fields, as well as visiting other journalists and creative minds.
The Wallace House is a gift from the late Mike Wallace, best known for his work on the CBS program “60 Minutes,” and his wife Mary Wallace. Fellows receive a stipend of $70,000 for the academic year, and the entire program is funded by news organizations, foundations and individuals such as Jeff Fager, the executive producer of 60 Minutes, dedicated to improving journalistic quality.
Wallace House Director Lynette Clemetson, a former Knight-Wallace Fellow, explained how the Fellows contribute to the overall richness of the University through their facilitation of ideas and engagement with various faculty members.
“When the Fellows come here, they’re really participating in the University life for a year,” she said. “The ability to have mid-career journalists in classes bringing their work experiences, their travel experiences, their life experiences into the courses they’re taking at the University — we hear from students and professors all the time that they add such richness to discussions and interactions in the class.”
Over the past year, Fellows have participated in a wide spectrum of University events, most notably in a series of panels on subjects ranging from how to maintain privacy in investigative journalism, to reporting during the era of the Trump administration.
One of the new Fellows, Jennifer Guerra, a Senior Reporter for Michigan Radio, said she recently completed a project called State of Opportunity that examined how kids from low-income families can be successful in areas such as networking and education.
“As one of the two main reporters on the project, I filed weekly radio stories on everything from infant health to foster care to first generation college students, and twice a year produced hour-long documentaries on topics such as networking, education and race,” she said.
Guerra emphasized how excited she is to join the next class of Fellows, and use her role as a journalist to connect communities across the nation and advance civil discourse.
“I have been locked in on the important, challenging work of State of Opportunity for the past five years and am incredibly excited to join the next class of Knight-Wallace Fellows and to focus my energy on what’s next,” she said. “We know our nation is intensely divided, and I believe public media now more than ever has a responsibility to cover communities in ways that expand our understanding of one another. "
A Fellow from Nigeria, Dayo Aiyetan, the Executive Director of the International Center for Investigative Reporting, shared on Facebook how excited he is to join the program.
“Nothing like waking up to such exciting news,” he wrote. “Congratulations to all fellows.”