Ruby Mellen is an Assistant Editor on the The Washington Post foreign desk based in Washington D.C. She has the rare ability of being able to alter the energy of any room she enters with a competent and calming aura, unconsciously. Mellen is exactly the kind of person you’d want by your side to lead a yoga sesh after the emotionally draining scenarios of HEFAT in Mexico City and is up for all the challenges of covering a Latin American country. Even though she doesn’t speak the native language in El Salvador, and perhaps because of this, she is hyperaware of avoiding parachute reporting and makes it a point to approach the stories this country has to offer with delicacy and tact.
What attracted you to the Adeltante! Fellowship?
I think that the IWMF is really great at offering opportunities to young professional women that they don’t always get in the workplace or aren’t able to do on their own if they’re freelance and for me the Adelante! opportunities was a way for me to tell new,important stories about Central America that kind of diverted away from the narrative– especially in El Salvador– of just violence, crime and destitution. I really wanted the chance to have the time and resources to really dig into those stories and tell them well and responsibly.
Why did you choose to focus on your chosen medium (print)?
I’ve just always been a writer and a storyteller. When I was little I really wanted to be a fiction writer and author until I realized that the real world was more interesting than anything I could makeup, especially now. I just think writing is where my strengths lie.
What are one of the stories that you’ve worked on that you are most proud of?
When I worked for Foreign Policy, I had a Google alert for Lebanon because I was really interested in that part of the region. One day I got a Google alert from a local Lebanese in the United States and it was a small news article about this Beirut-based photographer who had travelled through there and he was photographing all these towns in the US called Lebanon. So I reached out to him and ended up doing this big feature on him, his story and the fact that he is a Christian-Arab Lebanese man driving through all these rural towns called Lebanon in the US during the 2016 election year. He was a photographer so I wrote the text and we had this big graphic showing all the different towns he went to, their population, their median income and how they voted. That was so fun for me because it was a fun story to tell.
-Nathalie Nieves, 2020 Adelante El Salvador Fellow