The Investigative Fund is pleased to announce the 2017 winners of the Ida B. Wells Fellowship, whose goal is to promote diversity in journalism by helping to create a pipeline of investigative reporters of color. As winners, the following individuals will be given the opportunity to complete their first substantial piece of investigative reporting:

  • Naveena Sadasivam, an Austin-based staff writer at the Texas Observer who covers science, energy and the environment, formerly wrote about the coal industry for InsideClimate News and fracking for ProPublica. At ProPublica, Sadasivam was a finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting as part of a team investigating the water crisis in the American West. She will be reporting on environmental fines.
  • Justine Calma, a New York-based freelance multimedia journalist, reports across the US and internationally on public health, climate change, migration, and human rights. Her work has appeared on NBC News, PBS, WNYC, PRI’s The World, Quartz, Salon, and HuffPost, among others. Calma was born in the Philippines and moved to Los Angeles as a child. She will be reporting on day care.
  • Emmanuel Felton, a New Orleans native who now lives in New York, covers the intersection of race and education as a staff writer at the Hechinger Report, with a particular focus on how well schools serve boys and men of color. Previously, he covered education, juvenile justice, and child services as a fellow for the New York World, a government accountability newsroom staffed by recent graduates of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Felton’s work has appeared in the Atlantic, Slate, the New York Daily News, and many others. He will be reporting on racial segregation.
  • Juliana Schatz, a Colombian-American documentary director and producer, started her career at the award-winning investigative series FRONTLINE, where she contributed to 12 public affairs documentaries, among them two Emmy Award winners and one Peabody Award winner. Schatz also produced award-winning work at GlobalPost, where she covered the Egyptian revolution, and for Al Jazeera’s program earthrise, on environmental issues. She will be reporting on mental health care for children.

The winners represent a cross-section of America and of journalism experience, ranging from emerging to mid-career journalists. Each will receive $10,000 plus funds to cover out-of-pocket reporting costs. The fellows will also receive intensive editorial feedback, legal counsel, research resources, assistance with story placement and publicity, and mentoring. They will all attend the Investigative Reporters & Editors conference that kicks off today in Phoenix.


“This year’s winners impressed us with their history of taking the initiative to do investigative reporting without waiting for the perfect opportunity to come to them,” said Investigative Fund senior editor Kelly Virella, who leads the Ida B. Wells Fellowship. “We are thrilled to be able to offer them the financial and editorial support they need to build their skills and become first-rate investigative reporters.”

People of color constitute less than 13 percent of all newsroom staff, according to an annual survey by the American Society of Newsroom Editors, and 10 percent of supervisors; their presence is even smaller on investigative teams. Women represent 37 percent of newsroom staff and 35 percent of supervisors. Survey data indicates that fewer than 10 percent of journalists come from a working-class background. Meanwhile, studies have shown that diverse editorial staffs are essential for reporting that is relatable and actionable for all audiences.

The Ida B. Wells Fellowship competition, now in its second year, is held annually. The program was made possible by support from Open Society Foundations.