Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting has launched the second year of its fellowship for investigative reporters of color. Over the next 10 months, the five Reveal Investigative Fellows will delve into topics ranging from a lack of diversity in high school honors classes to challenging post-hurricane conditions for immigrants.  

The 2017-18 fellows, who remain in their newsrooms during the fellowship, are:

  • James Barragán, The Dallas Morning News, Austin, Texas
  • Elida S. Perez, El Paso Times, El Paso, Texas
  • Amber C. Walker, The Capital Times, Madison, Wisconsin
  • Gillian B. White, The Atlantic, Washington
  • Elly Yu, WABE, Atlanta

The fellowship, launched in 2016, aims to increase the range of backgrounds, experiences and interests in the field of investigative journalism. More than a dozen journalists will benefit during the program’s three-year grant period, through training and networking opportunities and by producing investigations for their home outlets and Reveal’s.

“Institutional barriers prevent many journalists of color from ascending into investigative roles,” said Martin G. Reynolds, the Reveal fellowship’s director. “It’s vital that the most probative work we do in journalism embodies the diversity and cultural competency to make it relevant and reflective of all of society.”

The program is not only about producing outstanding journalism, but also about changing perceptions – and the first cohort in 2016-17 experienced that change. One reporter was promoted into an investigative data position; another gained a new title, investigative reporter; several said the fellowship training in records requests, data and more turned them into resources in their newsrooms.

The first-year fellows’ work began appearing in their home publications and on Reveal’s website this fall, with two stories that provided unique insights into the public education system. Sierra Mannie, a Mississippi native, exposed the ways outdated textbooks are contributing to scant instruction about her state’s contributions to the civil rights movement. Her story was co-published by Jackson’s Clarion Ledger, Education Week and The Hechinger Report. Yoohyun Jung, a reporter with the Arizona Daily Star, raised important questions about whether a rapidly growing charter school company is being a good steward of public money.

Last week, Tampa Bay Times reporter Laura Morel published a two-part series about stolen guns’ use in crimes, which will be the topic of an upcoming Reveal public radio episode, accompanied by a report on the barriers to tracking used and stolen law enforcement guns by fellow Alain Stephens, a radio reporter for KUT in Austin, Texas. An analysis piece about youths who go missing from foster care by The Nation’s Collier Meyerson is expected to publish later this year.

This fellowship was made possible with generous support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Democracy Fund.

“This program was only a dream until the funders stepped up to make it a reality,” said Amy Pyle, Reveal’s editor in chief. “We are confident that the first-year fellows left here as stronger journalists, and we look forward to working and learning alongside the next group of fellows.”

More about the 2017-18 fellows:

James Barragán, The Dallas Morning News, Austin, Texas

A state government reporter for The Dallas Morning News, Barragán covers immigration, border security and voting rights issues.

The story: Barragán will look into the experiences of immigrants living in the United States without authorization before and after Hurricane Harvey.

The quote: “I have always wanted to focus on investigative journalism. However, as the idea behind this fellowship shows, there are so few journalists of color working in that field. Too often, we get pigeonholed into having to write about ‘minority issues’ or ‘Latino affairs’ to capture the voices of our communities.”

Elida S. Perez, El Paso Times, El Paso, Texas

A city government watchdog reporter at the El Paso Times, Perez was born in San Antonio but raised in California and the border city of El Paso.

The story: Perez will investigate whether overtime hours are being equitably distributed within the El Paso police and fire departments.

The quote: “This fellowship is a unique opportunity to be able to learn and cultivate the skills I believe will make me a more experienced investigative reporter.”

Amber C. Walker, The Capital Times, Madison, Wisconsin

A K-12 education reporter for The Capital Times, Walker taught high school American literature in Miami with Teach for America.

The story: Walker will look at the Madison Metropolitan School District’s efforts to diversify its advanced learning program.

The quote: “This will be one of my first investigative research projects, so I want to improve my skills to benefit the community. I hope this starts a conversation in Madison about access to and equity around Advanced Placement and honors opportunities for students of color.”

Gillian B. White, The Atlantic, Washington

A writer and editor at The Atlantic, White covers business and economics with a focus on inequality, wealth, the financial sector and economic policy.

The story: White will investigate racial and economic disparities within diversion programs in the juvenile criminal justice system.

The quote: “This fellowship would provide me with the opportunity and guidance to complete a larger, deeper investigation than I have been able to thus far.”

Elly Yu, WABE, Atlanta

A reporter at NPR station WABE, Yu covers health, immigration and state politics.

The story: Yu will explore how Georgia’s immigrant detention centers operate.

The quote: “I believe investigative journalism is one of the most important – if not the most important – thing we do as journalists; keeping those in power accountable.”

Applications for the third fellowship year will be accepted starting in February. For more information, contact Director Martin G. Reynolds at mreynolds@revealnews.org.