Schuster Institute, Fund for Investigative Journalism announce new collaboration

Washington-based fund provides finances, Brandeis Institute gives guidance

The Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism and the Fund for Investigative Journalism (FIJ) in Washington, D.C. have launched an innovative collaboration to support reporting on vital social justice and human rights issues—reporting now endangered in mainstream newsrooms.

Based at Brandeis, the Schuster Institute & Fund for Investigative Journalism Fellowships provide talented independent reporters with a blend of funding for their projects from the FIJ and professional guidance, including editorial and research support, from the Schuster Institute.

Drawing from a pool of journalists previously chosen to receive FIJ grants for their work, the Schuster Institute selected seven outstanding grant recipients as Fellows, based on the potential impact of their projects and their demonstrated commitment to reporting about injustice.

The Fellows are investigating a wide range of issues—from undercover reporting about America’s food system to the residual health effects of undetonated munitions in Laos to child sexual abuse in Orthodox Jewish communities—spotlighting abuses of institutional power in the United States and globally.

FIJ provided the new Fellows with crucial startup funds to launch their time- and resource-intensive reporting. The Schuster Institute gives them an intellectual home where professional journalists provide editorial and strategic guidance and other support, including extensive efforts to promote and magnify the impact of their findings.

Newly hired Schuster Institute Executive Editor Melissa Ludtke and Founding Director Florence Graves are developing the Institute’s expanded fellowship program. These new Fellows join seven other journalists who are already part of the Institute’s Ethics & Justice Investigative Journalism Fellowship Program.

Ludtke served for 13 years as editor of the Nieman Reports at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University and is a former Time correspondent and Sports Illustrated reporter.

The new fellows:

Scott Carney is a California-based investigative journalist and author whose reporting on crime and corruption has lead him across the world to trace the trade and sale of humans and their body parts. He is the author of “The Red Market: On the Trail of the World’s Organ Brokers, Bone Thieves, Blood Farmers and Child Traffickers” and a contributing editor at Wired.

Karen Coates & Jerry Redfern are a print and photojournalist team who reside in New Mexico and report primarily from Southeast Asia. Their recent work has focused on Cambodia and Laos, including the severe danger to Laotian farmers whose fields are—literally—potential bomb fields of unexploded ordnance left over from four billion pounds of bombs dropped on Laos by the United States between 1964 and 1973 during the Vietnam War. Up to 30 percent of those bombs didn't explode, and may remain a danger in the soil today. This year, ThingsAsian Press will publish their book “Eternal Harvest: The Legacy of American Bombs in Laos.”

Rebekah Cowell is a North Carolina-based investigative journalist who focuses on low-income, minority communities that abut hazardous waste facilities and have no platforms to voice their concerns about diseases related to pollution exposure. She is currently working on a six-part environmental justice series underwritten by a George Polk Grant for Investigative Reporting.

Jennifer Margulis is an Oregon-based author, lecturer, narrative nonfiction writer and editor who is investigating the overlooked dangers of some mainstream child-rearing practices, especially those where scientific evidence has been brushed aside in favor of special interests. Scribner will publish her next book in 2013: “The Business of Baby: How Corporations and Private Interests Skew the Way We Parent.”

Tracie McMillan is a New York-based investigative journalist whose reporting exposes economic injustice. For her forthcoming book, “The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee's, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table,” McMillian went undercover to learn what it takes to stay well-nourished in low-income America.

Hella Winston is a New York-based investigative reporter, author, and sociologist currently focusing on abuses of power in Orthodox Jewish communities. She is the author of the book “Unchosen: The Hidden Lives of Hasidic Rebels,” for which she gained nearly unprecedented access and insight  into highly insular Hasidic sects.

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