The International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) selected 14 journalists from six countries to participate as Fellows with the African Great Lakes Reporting Initiative. A group of eight women journalists will report on civic engagement from Rwanda. Concurrently, six women journalists will cover stories related to rural and economic development from Tanzania. Both trips will take place February 17-March 1, 2017.
All fellows will begin their trips in Nairobi, Kenya for a multi-day orientation and security training before departing for their respective reporting countries. While on the ground, fellows will have the opportunity to meet with local journalists, collaborate with international peers, and discover sites and sources relevant to their reporting. This is the IWMF’s first trip to South Sudan and second trip to Tanzania.
The IWMF designed the African Great Lakes Reporting Initiative to support journalists interested in pursuing stories that go beyond the well-established narratives of political instability, armed conflicts, and humanitarian crisis in the region. The program was created in 2014, building on the success of earlier IWMF reporting fellowships to the Western Sahara and DRC. To date, 77 journalists have covered a wide range of under-reported topics including humanitarian issues, democracy, food security, and development. Their work has been produced and published by leading media outlets around the world.
During the next four years, the IWMF will continue to lead groups of women journalists to the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. By 2019, more than 250 reporters will have together reshaped traditional media narratives about this complicated and promising region. The IWMF pays for fellowship-related expenses including travel, lodging, meals, and fixers/interpreters unless a selected journalist’s news organization wishes to assume these costs.
Visit our blog for updates from #IWMFfellows on the ground.
Ana Terra Athayde is a freelance video journalist based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She contributes to outlets such as The Guardian, BBC, Bloomberg, and CNN, covering a variety of subjects. Her work has recently focused on the impact of the Zika virus outbreak, as well as the political and financial crisis, on families all over Brazil. Athayde has reported from Brazil, the United States, Uruguay, and Spain. Before moving to Rio in 2015, Athayde was a staff video journalist for The Guardian in New York. She traveled throughout the United States to produce, film and edit videos on themes such as discrimination, same-sex marriage, politics and human rights. Athayde was a news producer for GloboNews TV, in Rio, from 2009 to 2013. Her work in Brazil won three national awards for a series about judges who were threatened by criminals. Athayde holds a master’s degree from Columbia Journalism School and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro.
Alejandra Sánchez Inzunza is a freelance journalist based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She writes about crime, violence, politics, and social matters in Latin America, Europe, and the United States. Her stories have appeared in The New York Times, El País, Vice News, Folha de Sao Paulo, and Caravan among others. Sánchez Inzunza won the Ortega and Gasset Award in 2014, the National Journalism Award in 2013, the German Journalism Award in 2015 and second place in the Latin American Drugs Award in 2014. She is co-founder of Dromómanos, an independent producer of journalistic projects, and is co-writer of the books Narcoamérica (Tusquets, 2015), Los 12 mexicanos más pobres (Planeta, 2016) and Visible Cities (Editorial RM, 2016). Sánchez Inzunza holds a master’s degree in journalism from the Autonomous University of Madrid in alliance with the newspaper El País.
Valerie Hopkins is a multimedia journalist based in Prishtina, Kosovo with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN). Her reporting focuses on the Brussels-mediated dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, and EU policy in the region. She also is the Features and Opinions editor of Prishtina Insight, an online magazine. Hopkins’ freelance work has appeared in Foreign Policy, Politico, the Guardian, Al Jazeera, Mother Jones, Newsweek, and elsewhere. Hopkins started her journalism career in in Sarajevo, Bosnia, where her first job was reporting on trials before the Bosnian war crimes court. She later became the daily web editor for the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP). Investigations she worked on were finalists for the Daniel Pearl Investigative Reporting Award and the Global Shining Light Award. Hopkins holds a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University. After graduating she was a 2013 Overseas Press Club Fellow, which sent her to Belgrade, Serbia as an intern with Thomson Reuters. Hopkins has a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the College of William and Mary.
Stefanie Jason is a features writer for Marie Claire South Africa (print and online). She is based in Johannesburg, South Africa, and her features are focused mainly on women’s issues in relation to identity, health, and social issues. Jason also writes opinion pieces, as well as stories about the country’s cultural landscape. In 2015, she received a silver in features writing at the Arts Journalism Awards, about stories such as how gentrification affects the artist class in and around South Africa. Jason worked at the Mail & Guardian newspaper for three years and has freelanced for South African publications such as City Press and House & Leisure.
Danielle Paquette is a reporter for the Washington Post based in Washington, D.C., where she writes about gender, policy, and the economy. She previously worked as a crime reporter for the Tampa Bay Times, Florida’s largest newspaper. Paquette’s stories have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Cosmopolitan, LA Weekly, and Indianapolis Monthly. While studying journalism at Indiana University, she won the Hearst National Writing Competition and was named Student Journalist of the Year.
Whitney Shefte is a senior video journalist at The Washington Post in Washington, D.C., where she has worked since 2006. She has documented everything from AIDS in D.C., to press issues in Pakistan, to the forgotten conflict in Western Sahara with the IWMF. Shefte has won Peabody, Emmy, Murrow, and Pictures of the Year International (POYi) awards for her work. Shefte and a team of other Post journalists were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory Reporting for a military medicine package in 2011, and she was a finalist for the Livingston Award in 2015. Shefte also teaches video journalism at Georgetown University and is president of the White House News Photographers Association. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication where she concentrated in photojournalism.
Megan Specia is a video journalist with The New York Times based in New York. She specializes in international multimedia storytelling, with a focus on human rights and conflict. Prior to working for The New York Times, Specia worked for Mashable as assistant real-time editor. While there she covered major stories in the field including the Baltimore riots, the Ferguson protests, the aftermath of the Paris attacks, the Brussels attacks, and the refugee crisis. She traveled to Jordan to report from the largest Syrian refugee camp in the region and Greece to report on refugees living in squalid conditions there. Specia reported on the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign and travelled across the nation, utilizing live streaming, Snapchat, and other emerging platforms. Before moving to New York in 2013, Specia lived in Ireland for four years, where she worked for Dublin-based news organization Storyful. While there, she worked in the newsrooms of Yahoo, ABC and VICE. Specia was University of New Hampshire’s 2015 Donald Murray Visiting Journalist. She received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Hampshire, with a dual honors degree in journalism and communications.
Kavitha Surana is an editorial fellow at Foreign Policy magazine in Washington D.C., where she produces breaking news and original reports. Previously, she was a fellow at New York magazine’s Bedford + Bowery blog, and freelanced from Italy and Germany for publications like Quartz, Al Jazeera America, OZY, Global Post/PRI, and Civic Idea. Much of Surana’s recent reporting has focused on migration policy, Syrian refugee issues, and European populism. In the past, she was awarded a Fulbright trip to Germany, as well as a grant from the Heinrich Boell Foundation. Surana also was selected for a grant from the Bureau for International Reporting to contributed to producing a special report for PBS NewsHour on religious education in Senegal. Surana studied history at Columbia University and holds a master’s degree in journalism and European studies from New York University.