Introducing The 2019 Ida B. Wells Journalism Fellows

Introducing The 2019 Ida B. Wells Journalism Fellows

Ida B. Wells
Ida B. Wells Barnett, in a photo by Mary Garrity from c. 1893.

Aaron Ross Coleman and Katrease Stafford are two of the five recipients of the 2019 Ida B. Wells Fellowship, which has a goal to promote diversity in journalism by helping to create a pipeline of investigative reporters of color.

Fellows receive a $16,000 award and editorial guidance from Type Investigations, a New York City-based incubator for high-impact investigative reporting that holds the powerful accountable.

African Americans and 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, with 42 percent of newsroom jobs. Fewer than 10 percent of journalists come from a working-class background, according to a Type Investigations blog.

Aaron Ross Coleman @arcwrites is a New York City-based journalist. He writes at the intersection of race, business, and economics. His previous work has covered retail redlining and predatory finance. He has written for The New York Times, BuzzFeed, The Nation, Vox, CNBC, HuffPost, The Marshall Project and elsewhere. He will be reporting on discrimination and lending.

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Katrease Stafford @Kat__Stafford covers city government and how it intersects with the community at the Detroit Free Press. Stafford, a Detroit native, has received several awards for her work including the Society of Professional Journalists’ 2017 Young Journalist of the Year Award. She was also named a 2018 Rising Star by the News Media Alliance. She will be reporting on housing issues in Detroit.

Other Ida B. Wells fellows include:

  • Andrea González-Ramírez @andreagonram, a senior news and politics writer at Refinery29.
  • Gilda Di Carli @gdicarli, a Miami-based investigative freelance reporter who works in audio and text including NPR’s Spanish-language podcast, Radio Ambulante.
  • Mary Annette Pember @mapember, an independent journalist focusing on Native American issues.

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The fellowship honors Wells, the pioneering activist and investigative reporter who led the first campaign against lynching during the Jim Crow era. Born a slave, Wells dispelled stereotypes regarding rape and lasciviousness that led to Black men and women being lynched. She reported that the victims’ only “crimes” were threatening white supremacy through acts of resistance or achievement. She faced death threats for her work.

Type Investigations works with independent investigative reporters to produce deeply reported journalism covering immigration, labor, environment, corporate and government malfeasance, and civil and human rights. Its stories have led to shifts in corporate policy, resignations of public officials, FBI investigations, Congressional hearings and federal legislation.

Now in its fourth year, the Ida B. Wells Fellowship competition is made possible by Open Society Foundations — a grantmaking network founded by business magnate George Soros — and the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation with support from Foundation for a Just Society and the Present Progressive Fund at Schwab Charitable.