PHILADELPHIA (May. 7, 2019) —The Lenfest Institute for Journalism today announced the first-ever recipients of The Lenfest Next Generation Fund Award. The 21 NextGen award winners are Philadelphia-area journalists and students of color who will receive stipends to attend the national professional development conference of their choice and receive related support from the Institute.
In order for local journalism to survive and thrive, newsrooms — and the coverage they produce — must be reflective and representative of the communities they serve. The Institute’s aspirational goal is that 50 percent or more of working journalists in Philadelphia will be people of color by 2025. The Next Generation Fund is one of the steps the Institute is taking to help make this goal a reality. The Institute is also focused on improving communication and partnership within the Philadelphia news ecosystem; creating initiatives in digital training, talent development, and newsroom inclusion; supporting entrepreneurship and accelerating the digital transition of individual businesses and news organizations.
“This fund empowers journalists of color in the early and middle stages of their careers to grow professionally in the ways that make the most sense for them. We’re hoping that this program will help journalists of color achieve their goals and ultimately to take on leadership positions in local and national news,” said Lenfest Institute Business & Programs Analyst Cheryl Thompson-Morton.
Seven winners will attend the National Association of Black Journalists conference, four will attend the Asian American Journalists Association conference, four will attend the Investigative Reporters and Editors conference, three will attend the National Association of Hispanic Journalists conference, and three will attend the Online News Association conference.
The Lenfest Institute has committed an initial $25,000 to The Next Generation Fund, and each winner will receive awards of up to $1,200. The NextGen cohort will convene later this month at the Institute where they will meet each other and will share more about future plans, needs, and career goals.
Profiles of each winner are below:
Lenfest NextGen Fund recipients
• Hannah Chin is a student at Bryn Mawr College and will be attending the Asian American Journalists Association conference, where she hopes to continue to learn how to build trust between communities of color and the media. She has interned at The Philadelphia Inquirer and NBC 10 Philadelphia.
• Michaelle Bond is a reporter at the Philadelphia Inquirer where she has reported on issues of data algorithm bias and the undue burden placed on Philadelphians trying to obtain copies of their birth certificates. She will attend the Investigative Reporters and Editors conference where she hopes to pick up techniques for digging through records and databases to both find and report on stories.
• Gabriela Watson-Burkett is a producer for Atrévete; a bilingual community news initiative focused on Latino experiences in the Philadelphia area that broadcasts from PhillyCAM. With a communications and filmmaking background, she believes in powerful storytelling with a focus on ensuring communities of color are viewed from a more positive and complex perspective. She will attend the National Association of Hispanic Journalists conference.
• Anh Nguyen is a recent graduate from Klein Communications School at Temple University. She will be attending the AAJA conference where she hopes to learn how to continue anticipating the demands of employers while adapting quickly to changes in technology and practice.
• Rjaa Ahmed is a sophomore at Temple University Klein College of Media and Communication where she leads the AAJA Philadelphia student chapter. She will be attending the AAJA conference. In the future, she hopes to promote journalism and journalists who take into account intersectional identities perspectives.
• Hadiyah Weaver is a recent graduate of Temple University. She has interned at CBS3 and Radio One Philadelphia. As the former Treasurer for Temple’s Association of Black Journalists, she helped to coordinate a prison reform event with Roc Nation. She will attend the National Association of Black Journalists conference where she hopes to pitch herself to potential employers and strengthen her network amongst journalists of color.
• Cherri Gregg is a community affairs reporter for KYW Radio, and she also produces news and investigative pieces for CBS3-TV and KYWNewsradio.com. She was a past president of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists. She will attend the IRE conference where she will get training about how to use technology to identify issues that affect everyday Philadelphians and make connections and cultivate mentorships within the investigative journalism community.
• Raishad Hardnett is a former broadcast journalist navigating a print newsroom for the first time. He is currently producing longer-form documentary videos for The Philadelphia Inquirer. He will attend the NABJ conference. He hopes to continue to make cinematic films for the Inquirer that break cultural barriers while helping the organization gain national recognition as an emerging leader in cinematic journalism.
• Cassie Owens is a reporter at the Philadelphia Inquirer who will attend the Online News Association conference, where she hopes to pick up more skills to enhance stories for digital audiences. She will be building up from her current experience as a reporter that experiments with graphics, customized visuals for Twitter, in-line audio clips, GIFs, bites of multimedia, annotations and shorter audio stories.
• Darryl C. Murphy is a reporter at WHYY. He will attend the NABJ conference, where he hopes to meet with mentors and get insights into what would take for him to reach his ultimate goal, to become a national radio reporter. He is part of WHYY’s class of Creating Culturally Competent Newsroom trainees.
• Bobbi I. Booker is a Technology Culture Reporter for The Philadelphia Tribune where she is in charge of #TheNewNext, a column featuring in-depth podcast reviews, interviews with podcasters of color and digital technology and social media trends. Bobbi will be attending the ONA conference to maintain a presence in seemingly unattainable places that allow her access to proven strategies for professional growth and expansion.
• TyLisa C. Johnson is a Lenfest Fellow at the Philadelphia Inquirer who hopes to become a black, female investigative reporter at a national publication who focuses on stories that tell the experiences of those in marginalized, struggling communities, and explain what, or who has shaped, impacted, or created those conditions. She will attend the IRE conference where she hopes to learn how to continue the use of data in her reporting and expand the use of it.
• Jonathan Lai has been a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer for the past seven years where he writes about civil and social rights, particularly voting rights, and often uses data to cut through assumptions and political rhetoric. He will attend the IRE conference where he hopes to hone his knowledge of coding language and explore ideas for specific stories, as well as inspiration for new ways to think about and approach stories in the first place.
• Manuel McDonnell Smith is an assignment editor at NBC10 Philadelphia and current president of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists. His goals include transitioning from broadcast to online newsroom management. He will attend the ONA conference, where he hopes to continue the process of skills-building, career relationship development, and emerging technology exploration that will help to evolve him into a competitive candidate for leadership.
• Marissa Weekes Mason is an independent photojournalist who is helping to provide visual content for Philadelphia media from a perspective that is diverse and inclusive that accurately and positively reflects the diverse communities of Philadelphia. She will attend the NABJ conference where she hopes to get further training on how to change the perspective of how stories of black and brown victims of violence are told through imagery.
• Aneri Pattani is Lenfest Fellow at the Philadelphia Inquirer who is attending the AAJA conference. She hopes to connect with other reporters who have experience diversifying their beats within local newsrooms. She hopes to learn from other reporters new ways to find difficult sources and gain trust in new communities.
• Yanuara Ramirez is a journalism student at the Temple University Klein College of Media and Communication who is interested in broadcast journalism and will attend the NAHJ conference. While at Temple, she has been managing editor of the yearbook, and print executive editor of Fourteenth Street Magazine. She interned at The Philadelphia Inquirer last summer.
• Elizabeth Estrada works as a communication officer in the non-profit field in Philadelphia while also freelances as a reporter and producer for the public access media station in Philadelphia, PhillyCAM. She will attend the NAHJ conference in the hopes of gaining access to information, training, and education needed to elevate her skills as a budding journalist and transition to being a journalist full-time.
• DeArbea Walker is a Lenfest Fellow at The Philadelphia Inquirer who will attend NABJ to learn new skills that can be implemented in The Inquirer’s newsroom and can elevate the work and content on the sports desk, where she currently works. Particularly, she is looking to hone her digital and audio storytelling skills.
• Michael Butler is a full-time freelance journalist with bylines in Metro Philadelphia. He will attend the NABJ conference where he will be taking part in sessions that explore the amplification of voices and share stories from marginalized people that mainstream media tends to overlook while also gaining exposure for his portfolio and attending the convention Career Fair.
• Ernest Owens is a professional freelance journalist, editor at Philadelphia Magazine and member of the board of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists. He will be attending the NABJ conference where he will continue to strengthen his professional network and will promote and showcase the work of PABJ on the national stage. He will be picking up applicable skills that can immediately be applied to his board leadership with PABJ.