Open Data

15 Journalists Chosen for Immigration Fellowships

March 25, 2014

Heartland 2013 Fellow Abbie Swanson took this photo of refugee children in rural Missouri, as part of her project on families moving to the Midwest to work in slaughterhouses.

Heartland 2013 Fellow Abbie Swanson took this photo of refugee children in rural Missouri, as they played with her radio equipment. Her IJJ project, broadcast on Harvest Public Media and NPR, focused on the struggles of families who moved to the Midwest to work in slaughterhouses.

Fifteen journalists have been selected for a fellowship program that will focus on challenges faced by children in immigrant families and how government policy impacts their lives.

The Institute for Justice and Journalism will conduct its annual “Immigration in the Heartland” program at the University of Oklahoma April 27-30.  The training places special emphasis on the issues developing as more immigrants settle in small towns and suburbs rather than the large cities that have been traditional immigration gateways.

This year’s program will feature discussions with experts and data journalism workshops. Among the featured speakers are Sonia Nazario, author of “Enrique’s Journey,” who will discuss the increase in child migrants, and sociologist Joanna Dreby, who will talk about the differences between immigrant children growing up in rural versus urban environments.

As part of their fellowships, reporters will be working on projects that will be published by their news organizations. The Heartland fellows and their affiliated media outlets are:

    •  Elaine Cha, KPCC Southern California Public Radio
    •  Stella Chavez, KERA North Texas Public Media
    • Liz Jones, KUOW Puget Sound Public Radio
    • Michelle Kanaar, Chicago Reporter
    • Shefali Kulkarni, Public Radio International
    • Yana Kunichoff, In These Times/Chicago
    • Amy Mayer, Iowa Public Radio
    • Chelsea McDougall, Northwest Herald/surburban Chicago
    • Alejandra Molina, Orange County Register
    • Maria Ortiz-Briones, Vida en el Valle/Fresno, Calif.
    • Hilary Powell, Lakeshore Public Media/Indiana
    • Brian Smith, Times-News/Twin Falls, Idaho
    • Lucio Villa, Hoy Chicago
    • Hansi Lo Wang, NPR
    • Elly Yu, Freelance/Atlanta


IJJ organizes the “Immigration in the Heartland” conference in partnership with OU’s Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication. The program is supported by the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, based in Oklahoma City, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which is dedicated to helping build better futures for disadvantaged children.

Previous Heartland fellows have produced thought-provoking, in-depth journalism on immigration issues, including a mini-documentary about teenage migrant farm workers, a radio series on families working for slaughterhouses in the Midwest and a photo project on unreported assaults against Mayan immigrants.

  • Citizen

    Will any of these journalists ever report the impact of mass immigration on Americans? On taxpayers? On businesses that follow the law?

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