Within weeks of arriving in their newsrooms, the 2018 Fellows are getting front-page and section-front bylines, taking on challenging assignments and getting high-profile interviews through their own initiative.
Samarth Bansal is on the data unit of the Pulitzer-winning investigative reporting team at The Wall Street Journal in New York, where, unlike his home newspaper The Hindustan Times, “working with large-scale data sets is routine.”
Bansal and his colleagues set up a program to mine and build a unique dataset from Twitter, and his first story was based on an investigation of accounts listed on the federal government’s official digital registry. The section-front article (right) “shows how the federal government is having trouble keeping track of its official social media accounts.”
In mid-April, Bansal was invited to the University of Michigan to present a research paper at a conference on social media and politics in the Global South, based on a study of Twitter accounts followed by Indian politicians.
Gulam Jeelani, who also came from The Hindustan Times in subtropical New Delhi, arrived in Minneapolis just in time for a spring blizzard.
It reminded him of his homeland in Kashmir, and he volunteered his first free weekend to join the coverage team. His second byline was a follow-up that landed on the front page and was the most read story that day.
Jeelani has also written prominently displayed articles on a school for autistic children, a pen-pal relationship between students in Minneapolis and Japan, and a diversion program for young offenders.
Juan Luis Garcia, a crime reporter from Mexico, says that his experience at the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald has been enlightening. “The opportunity that Alfred Friendly has given me to do journalism in Miami has opened my eyes to the role that this city plays in political decisions in Latin America.
“Miami is not only a center where artists and celebrities have their houses, it is also the door of Latinos in the United States and the home of thousands of migrants fleeing from countries without democracy.
“The Miami Herald focuses on dictatorships and the importance of democracy, but also gives voice to the Latino communities that live in the city, their customs and their problems,” he wrote in a blog post.
The subjects of Garcia’s first articles included a new guided tour in the Everglades in Spanish, pollution by garbage in Key Biscayne and the immigrant communities. “Central Americans have set up several restaurants in Little Havana, which are now a confluence point for these communities in Miami,” he said.
Much of his early work focused on Nicaraguans who came to Miami 40 years ago to escape the military dictatorship. One was about the 1,200 Nicaraguans gathered at a church to pray for peace and justice in Nicaragua, after a series of protests in which more than 60 people lost their lives.
Television reporter and producer Farah Ajlouni said it was inconceivable when she set off from Amman for America and the Alfred Friendly program that she would end up at CBS News, working on the 60 Minutes program — “a show that I watched from a very young age and became a big fan of as I grew older.”
“Just one year ago, I was covering stories in the deserts of Jordan,” she wrote in a blog post. “Today, I am working on 11th Avenue in Manhattan, in the same office as the most accomplished, prominent, world-renowned journalists — such as Oprah Winfrey, Anderson Cooper, Lara Logan, and many more.
Ajlouni is working on episodes that take months of intensive research, interviews, fact checking and reviews. “I now understand what it takes to produce a successful show of this caliber.” Since she speaks multiple languages fluently, she’s also pitching in when the program needs translations.
Zeinab Salih of Sudan is not only writing several articles a week for U.S. News & World Report in Washington, she’s also helping the international team deepen its coverage of North and East Africa and the Middle East. The reporter and editor is producing a daily bulletin of major stories from those regions.
Some subjects in her early articles include the long-troubled relations between the U.S. and Sudan, which entered a new phase of negotiations.
Anna Yakutenko, a reporter from the Kyiv Post in Ukraine, is working at KCUR, an affiliate of National Public Radio in Kansas City. She’s becoming proficient in multimedia reporting while producing stories varying from a newborn panda bear and “the overlooked story of cowboys of color” to a Japanese chef who has a French restaurant in the suburbs.
“I must admit, it’s a challenging time having to start everything from scratch and completely switch to radio, when you are so used to working at a newspaper,” she wrote in a blog post.
“However, it’s fun too. I feel that my writing has become crisper and my sentences more concise, and sound editing takes less time. I am learning how to improve my audio reporting to make multimedia stories — both short news stories and podcasts.”
Several of the short-term Fellows from Macedonia are also honing their broadcast skills.
Ivan Kuzmanovski is working at WBTV in Charlotte, N.C., and continues to contribute for his television station in Skopje, the country’s largest. He took a trip to Washington, met Vice President Mike Pence and interviewed a deputy assistant secretary of defense in the Pentagon, and pressed her about plans to bring Macedonia into NATO.
His first published news report at WBTV was related to school safety zones.
Krenar Sadiku, who stayed in Columbia to work at Missouri Business Alert and develop his Macedonian news website, also interviewed a prominent figure in his first weeks — Kosovo’s ambassador to the United States, Vlora Citaku. He also spent time with Bloomberg News co-founder Matthew Winkler when he was visiting the Missouri School of Journalism.
At Live5News, WSCS in Charleston, S.C., Danche Azmanova is adapting to the multitasking life of a U.S. broadcaster — lugging around a heavy video camera, taking notes while holding a microphone and shooting video, and then quickly editing the video by herself. “The challenge in Macedonia is how to balance your sources and fight against censorship,” she wrote in a blog post. “But here in the USA, I found a more complex challenge: multimedia journalism.”
Nikola Krstik is used to the quick turnaround of assignments for a national broadcaster in Macedonia, where he works as an assistant editor and anchor. At WBTV, the PBS station in Kansas City, he’s working more on in-depth stories and plans to put his new skills to work at Alfa TV to deepen their news reporting.
Alexsandra Denkovska Gocevska joined two colleagues from a TV station this year to launch a new media organization in Macedonia called the Investigative Reporting Lab, and during the fellowship she’s working with the investigative reporting team at Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. They’re working on an in-depth project that’s secret — for now.