The Class of 2020 on the University of Missouri’s Francis Quadrangle | Hillary Tan/Missourian

Journalists from Colombia, India, Pakistan, Turkey, Georgia and Ukraine join the Alfred Friendly Press Partners in March as the six-month fellowship program puts a greater emphasis on in-depth, high-impact reporting skills across multiple platforms.

The six reporters in the Class of 2020 will train for three weeks at the Missouri School of Journalism with professional practice faculty and attend workshops at the Investigative Reporters and Editors annual conference. They’ll work for five months in the newsrooms of the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, USA Today,  Minneapolis Star-Tribune, NBC News Investigations and professional media outlets run by the Missouri School of Journalism.

Daniela Castro |Bogota, Colombia Investigative reporter, Organized Crime & Corruption Reporting Network | Host: NBC News Investigations Sponsor: TRACE Foundation

Abhishek Waghmare New Delhi, India Data journalist, Business Standard | Host: Chicago Tribune Sponsor: TRACE Foundation

Bilge Kotan |Istanbul, Turkey Reporter, TRT World digital |Host: Los Angeles Times Sponsor: Patrick & Janna Stueve Foundation

Khatia Shamanauri Tbilisi, Georgia Reporter, EUGeorgia, Host:Minneapolis Star Tribune | Sponsor: John& Kathy Schirger, Norm&Lynette Siegel, George Hanson

Illia Ponomarenko | Kyiv, Ukraine Defense reporter Kyiv Post | Host: USA Today Sponsor: Bill & Christy Gautreaux

Ahmad Noorani Islamabad, Pakistan Investigative reporter, Penog.com Host: Missouri School of Journalism Sponsor: Scholars at Risk Network

The primary goal of investigative journalism is to bolster freedom of expression and freedom of information by exposing matters of public interest that are concealed by people of power. Good investigative journalism also spotlights effective policies and examines solutions to critical problems.

“Effective investigative journalism is particularly important now,” Jonathan Friendly, president of the foundation that underwrites the program, said, “amid the steady erosion of democratic institutions, an expansion of disinformation and attacks on press freedoms around the world.” Jonathan is the son of Alfred Friendly, a Pulitzer Prize winner and former managing editor of the Washington Post who launched the fellowship program in 1983, shortly before his death. 

Now is also a time of greater opportunities for high-impact investigative journalism. Reporters with data skills increasingly work together across borders to expose wrongdoing. They use advanced technology to analyze huge amounts of data in the public interest, work with whistleblowers and leakers, and visualize data in new and compelling ways. 

The subject areas during the four weeks of training at the nation’s premier journalism school include best practices in reporting — objectivity, fact checking and verification, ethics and conflict of interest, using social media and open sources. The hands-on training includes lessons in photography, audio, video and multimedia production, with one day dedicated to learning best practices for producing news stories with smartphones. The focus in the final week is on  data-informed investigative reporting, from basic spreadsheets and databases to complex data visualization.

Two Fellows in the Class of 2020 are investigative reporters from Colombia and India, Daniela Castro and Abhishek Waghmare, who are sponsored by the TRACE Foundation, which supports projects that encourage greater commercial transparency and advance anti-bribery education. Another investigative reporter in the fellowship is the inaugural at-risk journalist, Ahmad Noorani of Pakistan, whose fellowship is supported by the Scholars At Risk Network.  Noorani will work at media outlets in Missouri

Alfred Friendly Press Partners is based at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Over the past 36 years, the nonprofit organization has trained 330 journalists from 82 countries in cooperation with 66 U.S. newsrooms. They include Umar Cheema, who trained at the New York Times and went on to start the Investigative Reporters Association of Pakistan and win the International Press Freedom Award; Maria Walker Guevara, who worked at the Philadelphia Inquirer and managed the Pulitzer Prize-winning Panama Papers project for the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists; and Paul Radu, who learned investigative reporting at the San Antonio Express-News and co-founded the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, which also has won a Pulitzer and 90 other international and local awards.

Khatia Shamanauri manages a TV program on the appointment of judges in Georgia
Daniela Castro interviewed a medical examiner to get his interpretation of an autopsy report for the investigation of the kidnapping and murder of three employees of the Ecuadorian newspaper El Comercio.
Illia Ponomarenko interviewed an elderly couple living amid the war in Eastern Ukraine
Illia took photos for his newspaper, the Kyiv Post, of a shelled warehouse in Eastern Ukraine
Bilge Kotan in Istanbul, Turkey
Ahmad Noorani is running a new digital news site based in Islamabad, Pakistan
Abhishek Waghmare focuses on data journalism at his newspaper in New Delhi, India