Senior Justine Coleman Selected for News21 Reporting Fellowship

Justine Coleman
February 23, 2019

SMPA senior Justine Coleman has been selected to join top journalism students from 19 universities across the U.S., Canada and Ireland for a major investigation into disaster recovery in the U.S. as part of Carnegie-Knight News21 multimedia reporting initiative.

Headquartered at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, News21 was established by Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to demonstrate that college journalism students can produce innovative, in-depth multimedia projects on a national scale.

This summer, the 24 fellows will join a dozen Cronkite School students to conduct a major investigation into how local and federal governments allocate the funds to communities affected by disasters.

“I am so honored and thrilled to have been chosen by GW to be a part of the News21 fellowship,” Coleman said. “Getting to jump into investigative reporting right after graduation is a dream come true.”

The students are led by News21 Executive Editor Jacquee Petchel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist.

“We have seen a continual barrage of weather-related disasters, from hurricanes and wildfires, to tornadoes and snowstorms, take their toll on communities across the country,” Petchel said. “What we'll be investigating is how federal and local governments have handled the billions and billions of dollars spent on disaster recovery, as well as how communities across the country have fared over the years — decades after the fact.”

The News21 participants will work out of a Cronkite School newsroom and travel across the country to report and produce their stories. Their articles and multimedia will be featured on the project’s website and portions of previous investigations have been published by major news organizations including The Washington Post, NBC News and USA Today.

“After taking Big City Reporting with Debbie Cenziper and Investigative Reporting with Cheryl W. Thompson, I really began to develop an interest in investigative reporting,” Coleman said. “I realized that I was attracted to journalism because I believe all people deserve open communication. In my career, I want to pursue that mission of sharing information with the public that it deserves to know.”

Previous News21 Projects have included investigations into voting rights, post-9/11 veterans, marijuana laws, guns in America, drinking water safety and hate crimes, among other topics.

News21 projects have won numerous awards, including five EPPY Awards from Editor & Publisher magazine, two Student Edward R. Murrow Awards, and a host of honors from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Hearst Awards Program.