Kari Howard Fund for Narrative Journalism Announces Inaugural Grantees

Writers working in France and India are recipients of inaugural grants made by the Kari Howard Fund for Narrative Journalism, established by family and friends to honor a beloved editor who believed in the power of a well-told story, and administered by the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF).

During decades at The Los Angeles Times, Reuters and Nieman Storyboard, Howard inspired writers to observe acutely, listen to the melody of language and take chances with their writing. She died in January 2022.

In its initial year, the fund received 104 applications from across the globe. A selection committee of Howard’s family and former colleagues chose proposals by Jessica McHugh, who is based in France, and Romita Saluja, who works in India. Their stories will focus on climate issues and domestic abuse, respectively, and will publish in early 2024.

McHugh’s stories touching on culture, politics, history and identity, have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Nation, the Paris Review Daily, Time, The Guardian and Village Voice, among other publications. She said she was drawn to Howard’s reputation as an editor who “took a chance on offbeat stories, who allowed for a winding path in the reporting process, and whose journalism exuded warmth and not clinical observation.”

Saluja’s work focuses on themes of gender, development, health and human rights. It has appeared in The Guardian, The Washington Post, the BBC, Foreign Policy, Al Jazeera and many other outlets. “Having the luxury to spend months with a story, developing its character and giving it a shape that ensures respectable space for the people and issues we are writing about is something that most independent journalists can’t always afford,” Saluja said. “As someone who spends hours obsessing over the music that a sentence creates, I couldn’t have been happier to receive an award named after Kari Howard.”

Howard excelled at helping writers find the right story and the best way to tell it, said Marjorie Miller, a longtime colleague and member of the selection committee. “She was passionate about exposing injustices and putting human faces to world events, while never losing her sense of humor and eye for a delightful, quirky story,” she said. “We believe the two journalists we have selected would have intrigued and challenged Kari. We are excited to see the finished works.”

Howard’s sister, Alison, said it was gratifying to receive many strong pitches, making it difficult to choose grantees. “It showed that there are so many reporters across the globe who believe in the power of the narrative journalism Kari championed.” The stories that McHugh and Saluja are reporting will connect with readers on issues that concern everyone, she said.

About the Kari Howard Fund for Narrative Journalism

Kari Howard was a storytelling editor who championed the kind of writing that concerns itself with small moments: Of resiliency, dignity, absurdity, gut-busting humor or heartbreak. She loved writing that captured a sense of place. Howard’s death left a distinct approach to storytelling without one of its most capable champions. To ensure that such journalism lives on, the Kari Howard Fund for Narrative Journalism annually awards grants to support reporting and publication of compelling human stories wherever in the world they are found.

About the International Women’s Media Foundation

The IWMF is the only global organization built to serve the holistic needs of women and nonbinary journalists. We are a bold and inclusive organization that supports journalists where they are with awards, reporting opportunities, fellowships, grants, safety training and emergency aid. As one of the largest supporters of women-produced journalism, our transformative work strengthens equal opportunity and press freedom worldwide.