The fellows represent a cross-section of the U.S. and of journalism experience, ranging from emerging to mid-career journalists. Each fellow will be given the opportunity to complete their first substantial piece of investigative reporting, receiving a $16,000 stipend, plus funds to cover reporting costs in addition to intensive editorial feedback, legal counsel, research resources, mentoring, and assistance with story placement and publicity.
“The disparate impact of COVID-19 on minority communities shows how crucial it is to have reporters of color pursuing ambitious investigative stories. Now, as much as ever, we must empower and support journalists from underrepresented groups in telling the stories that matter most to their communities,” said Alissa Figueroa, senior editor in charge of the Ida B. Wells Fellowship Program.
People of color constitute less than 23 percent of all newsroom jobs, according to the most recent annual survey by the American Society of Newsroom Editors, and 19 percent of supervisors; their presence is even smaller on investigative teams. Women are also underrepresented, holding only 42 percent of newsroom jobs. Survey data indicates that fewer than 10 percent of journalists come from a working-class background.
The Ida B. Wells Fellowship competition, now in its fifth year, is held annually. For the first time, we have selected a Southern Ida B. Wells Fellow based in a nine-state region in the south, where Ida B. Wells is from and where her anti-lynching reporting was based.
The fellowship program is made possible by Open Society Foundations, Foundation for a Just Society and the Schwab Charitable Fund, made possible by the generosity of the Present Progressive Fund. The Ida B. Wells Fellowship is a one-time educational opportunity and is non-renewable.
Tina Vasquez, our Southern Fellow, is a North Carolina-based movement journalist with more than 10 years of experience reporting on immigration, reproductive injustice, LGBTQ+ issues, and gender-based violence. She is currently a staff reporter leading Prism's coverage of gender justice. Previously, she was a senior reporter covering immigration at Rewire.News, the leading online publication devoted to evidence-based reporting on reproductive and sexual health, rights, and justice. Her work has appeared in the New York Review of Books, NPR, The Nation, Playboy, and a variety of other publications. Recently, she was a mentor in the Freedomways Fellowship Program as part of Press On, a Southern journalism collective that strengthens and expands the practice of journalism in service of liberation. She will be reporting on immigration in North Carolina.
Akintunde Ahmad is a Bay Area based multimedia journalist focusing on the intersection of education, economic inequality, and the justice system. Ahmad, an Oakland native, was most recently a Delacorte Fellow with the Columbia Journalism Review, where he wrote about news media and its influence on public perceptions. He holds a BA in sociology from Yale University and an MS in journalism and documentary film from Columbia University. His work has been featured in The Atlantic, The Appeal, Huffington Post, and MTV. He will be reporting on police.
Eileen Guo is an independent journalist who focuses on inequality and the unintended consequences of globalization. Based in Los Angeles, she has reported from across the United States, Afghanistan, Guatemala, Mexico, and China for outlets including The New York Times, National Geographic, Wired, Mother Jones, and NPR. She will be investigating novel uses of surveillance devices.
Jack Herrera is an independent reporter based out of San Francisco. He covers immigration, refugees, and Latino issues. His work has appeared in Politico Magazine, The Nation, Columbia Journalism Review, Popular Science, and elsewhere. In 2018, he covered the arrival of the two most prominent Central American “caravans” on-the-ground in Tijuana as a reporter for Pacific Standard. In spring of 2020, he began covering the coronavirus pandemic’s effects inside ICE detention centers. He will be reporting on healthcare and immigration.
Irene Romulo is a journalist based in Cicero, Illinois, where she helps run Cicero Independiente, a bilingual news organization she co-founded. Her work centers on immigrants, Spanish-speakers, and organizing efforts. She is a proud City Bureau Reporting Fellowship alum and was a 2020 Voqal Fellow. She will be reporting on school discipline.