The envelope, please...
And a drumroll (desktop drumming acceptable)...
The Marguerite Casey Foundation has named the recipients of its 2014 Equal Voice Journalism Fellowships and Scholarships. The winners are:
Americans living in poverty whose stories will be read, heard and seen by a wider public: SNAP recipients, public housing residents and pregnant/new mothers prosecuted for drug use.
Here are the journalists who will tell their stories:
Equal Voice Fellow Tara Garcia Mathewson is a Chicago-based freelance journalist. Mathewson will report on the Plan for Transformation, Chicago's strategy to change its failed public housing system. She will follow former residents of Cabrini Green, the sprawling (now-demolished) housing complex. These families used vouchers to relocate to higher income neighborhoods, where they faced isolation and culture shock. Did the move to new zip codes fulfill the promise of greater opportunity, stability and a better quality of life? Mathewson's multimedia series will also map the outflow of public housing residents to new communities. It will be published in Hoy, one of the largest Spanish language daily newspapers in the U.S.
"Strong reporting has the ability to bring awareness to complex, nuanced issues related to poverty," wrote Mathewson. "Reading an article could inspire people to make new connections or get involved in ways they might never have thought of on their own."
Equal Voice Fellow Amanda Peacher is the Public Insight Journalist for Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB), where she leads the Portland-based station's social media, community engagement and efforts to diversify news sources. Peacher will report on the effects of SNAP benefit cuts on Oregon's rural poor. She will visit a remote ranching town, an agricultural community that's home to a growing population of Latino farmworkers, and a Native American reservation where fresh food is hard to find. She will take OPB's Mobile Story Recording Booth to food pantries, and tap into the Public Insight Network to collect stories of hunger in the state.
"This fellowship will give me the resources to report in-depth stories in a manner that I don't always have time for, given the pace of our newsroom," wrote Peacher. "This project will allow me to demonstrate the value of this kind of coverage in my newsroom and further cement the importance of covering poverty issues and policy."
Equal Voice Scholars Rachael Levy and Rosa Goldensohn are in the master's degree program at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. The reporting team plans to travel to Tennessee to track the implementation and human impact of a new law that imposes criminal penalties on pregnant women found to be using drugs.
"We are so grateful to receive this scholarship. The support further commits us to our work," they wrote. "It is humbling and also gives us a sense of serious responsibility."
Equal Voice Scholar Jonna McKone is working toward a master's degree in experimental and documentary arts at Duke University. With 30,000 people on the waiting list for public housing in Baltimore, Maryland, city officials are embracing a new program called Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) that will allow private companies and nonprofits to take over the management and leasing of public housing properties. McKone will produce a documentary on the history of public housing policy in Baltimore and the experiences of those who depend on it. It will air as a series of stories on WYPR's Maryland Morning.
"Reporting that brings listeners to people's doorsteps will engage with complicated questions around poverty and governance."
JCCF received 80 applications for the Equal Voice Journalism Fellowship and Scholarship program. Most of these proposals were fresh, urgent, and compelling. We hope that many applicants will find a way to report, produce, publish, and distribute these important stories on poor families in the U.S. anyway. JCCF was honored to be entrusted to manage this project. Many thanks to the Marguerite Casey Foundation for supporting independent journalists committed to in-depth reporting on the lives of low-income families.