Introducing the 58 Poynter-Koch Media and Journalism Fellows for 2022-23

The Poynter Institute is proud to welcome 58 emerging journalists to the fourth year of its prestigious Poynter-Koch Media and Journalism Fellowship program. The yearlong fellowship kicked off this month and includes a two-day online opening summit.

This impressive class of early-career media professionals includes reporters, editors, producers and photojournalists from news organizations across the country. They represent a variety of outlets and mediums such as The Texas Tribune, The Dallas Morning News, Baltimore Witness, WBTV News and WBEZ.

Fellows are placed as paid, full-time employees at participating news organizations and receive intensive training to develop cross-disciplinary skills and accelerate their careers in media. They will connect with seasoned mentors and award-winning journalists on a weekly basis and follow a robust, real-world curriculum led by Poynter faculty Kristen Hare.  

Hare, who has spent the last nine years covering local media, views this program as an opportunity to develop and retain top talent in local news. 

“We’re working against a whole industry that wants more and faster from its workforce,” said Hare, fellowship director since 2021. “This program takes the long view that more and faster are quick exits out of journalism. Our journalists, and the communities they serve, deserve better. Fellows will receive added layers of community, mentorship and training to help them carve out their place at the forefront of local news.”

The Poynter-Koch Media and Journalism Fellowship is a teaching partnership between Poynter and Stand Together Fellowships.

“Stand Together Fellowships is thrilled to welcome these 58 talented professionals to the Poynter-Koch Media & Journalism Fellowship,” said Hugh Cherry, director of education at Stand Together Fellowships. “We’re excited to see the experiences, perspectives, and passion they bring to tackling the challenges and opportunities facing the journalism industry, their workplaces, and the communities they serve. The free press is an essential part of a thriving free and democratic society, and we’re proud to invest in helping future leaders accelerate their professional development.”

Poynter-Koch Fellows will complete a series of experiential learning workshops and discussions about today’s most pressing issues facing the journalism industry. The weekly sessions will evolve to respond to the fellows’ needs and desires for growth in the industry and will include opportunities to build both hard and soft skills including covering trauma, the business of journalism, building audience-centered journalism and other core competencies. Fellows will also lead a capstone innovation project to address business and journalism challenges in their organization and attend three multi-day summits.

“The fellowship is a real opportunity for young journalists to connect with and get guidance from mentors who’ve seen it all in the industry, as well as peers who are also navigating some of the same tricky waters in other newsrooms across the country,” said Omar Gallaga, freelance reporter and one of the program’s lead advisers working with the fellows weekly throughout the program year. 

Other advisers include Benét Wilson, senior editor of The Points Guy; Caitlin Dewey, enterprise reporter at The Buffalo News; Gil Asakawa, associate editor of Nutrition Business Journal at New Hope Network; Katie Hawkins-Gaar, freelance writer and co-founder of Poynter’s Leadership Academy for Women in Media; Chris Sheridan, professor at Wake Forest University and Poynter adjunct; and Dan Lothian, executive producer of The World.

In addition to the Poynter-Koch advisers, guest instructors help bring the training experiences to life for fellows. This year, they include conflict experts Amanda Ripley and Hélène Biandudi-Hofer, StoryCorps founder David Isay, former CNN correspondent Moni Basu, Associated Press investigative journalist Kat Stafford, Axios’ Russ Contreras and The Journalist’s Resource senior editor Naseem Miller

For 2021-22 Poynter-Koch Fellow Will Schick, the program created a pathway to transition from a decade-long career in the Marine Corps to an entry-level reporter at Street Sense Media. Partway through the program, he leapfrogged into the role of editor-in-chief. 

“I wasn’t thinking about leading in the newsroom in the beginning. I was thinking more about how to become a well-rounded reporter. Through the fellowship, I realized, wow, I can actually tackle projects and I have ideas about how to lead,” said Schick, who is sending two other employees through the fellowship this year. “Our goal at Street Sense Media is to report fairly and accurately on issues related to poverty and homelessness. I can think of no better place for reporters and editors to develop the journalistic skills they need to do that than the Poynter-Koch Fellowship.” 

Poynter-Koch Fellows have also gone on to win major awards. The Miami Herald won a Pulitzer Prize this year for Breaking News Reporting, recognizing “its urgent yet sweeping coverage of the collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium complex.” Included in the winning submission are six fellows. 

Congratulations to the newest class of Poynter-Koch Media and Journalism Fellows:

  • Athiyah Azeem, Production Editor, Street Sense Media
  • Nicolás Baintrub, Newsletter Editor and Immigration Reporter, Enlace Latino NC
  • J.M. Banks, Culture & Identity Reporter, The Kansas City Star
  • Justin Baxley, Digital Content Manager, Tegna/13WMAZ
  • Nicole Blanchard, Investigative Reporter, Idaho Statesman
  • Alison Booth, Audience Growth Producer, The Kansas City Star
  • Kirstyn Brendlen, Digital Editor, Schneps Media/Brooklyn Paper
  • Courtney Buble, Reporter, Government Executive
  • Michael Butler, Business Reporter, The Miami Herald
  • Jannelle Calderon, General Assignment Reporter, The Nevada Independent
  • Megan Cardona, Service Journalism Reporter, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
  • Lexi Cortes, Investigative Reporter, Belleville News-Democrat/McClatchy
  • Willie Daniely III, MMJ, WTVG-13ABC
  • Sierra Dawn McClain, Reporter, Capital Press
  • Keely Doll, Education Reporter, Centre Daily Times
  • Esther Eaton, Deputy Editor, The Dispatch
  • Benjy Egel, Food and Drink Reporter, The Sacramento Bee
  • Cassandra Garibay, Housing Reporter, Fresnoland
  • Kelly Garrett, News Producer, WBRC 
  • Olivia George, Business Reporter, Tampa Bay Times
  • Mary Glen Hatcher, General Assignment Reporter, Green Valley News and Sahuarita Sun (Wick Communications)
  • Sean Golonka, General Assignment Reporter & Elections Reporter, The Nevada Independent
  • Katy Golvala, Investigative Researcher, CT Mirror
  • Aidan Graham, Editor, amNewYork
  • Morgan Hughes, City of Columbia Reporter, The State Media Company
  • Palak Jayswal, Culture Reporter, The Salt Lake Tribune
  • Lia Keener, Assistant Editor, Bay Nature
  • Indira Khera, Metro Reporter, WBEZ
  • Ava Kian, Race and Health Equity Fellow, MinnPost
  • Katherine Kokal, Community Reporter, The Palm Beach Post
  • Evan L’Roy, Staff Photographer, The Texas Tribune
  • Joni Land, Bend/Central Oregon Reporter, Oregon Public Broadcasting
  • Anila Lijo, Engagement Producer, Tampa Bay Times
  • Alexandria Mansfield, Growth and Development Reporter, The Florida Times-Union
  • Cory McCoy, Reporter/Editor, Tri-City Herald (McClatchy)
  • Marianna McMurdock, Staff Reporter, The 74
  • William Melhado, General Assignment Reporter, The Texas Tribune
  • Andrew Michaels, Senior Court Reporter, Baltimore Witness
  • Justin Mitchell, Senior News Editor, The Sun Herald/McClatchy
  • Diba Mohtasham, Associate Producer, NPR
  • Kate Murphy, Higher Education Reporter, The News & Observer
  • Reese Oxner, Breaking News Reporter, The Texas Tribune
  • Valentina Palm, Community Reporter, The Palm Beach Post
  • Josephine Peterson, Dallas County Reporter, The Dallas Morning News
  • Liesbeth Powers, Visual Journalist, The Dallas Morning News
  • Gordon Rago, Growth and Development Reporter, The Charlotte Observer
  • Omar Rodriguez Ortiz, General Assignment – Breaking News Reporter, Miami Herald
  • Kaela Roeder, Deputy Editor, Street Sense Media 
  • Karla Santos, Latino Communities News Specialist, RJ Media Group
  • Aliya Schneider, Digital Editor, Bronx Times
  • Mehr Singh, Editor-in-Chief, The Scope
  • Anne Snabes, Sarasota County Government/Politics Reporter, Sarasota Herald-Tribune
  • Hayley Sperling, Editorial Lead, Madison Minutes
  • Steven Trombello, Assignment Manager, WBTV News
  • Rose Varela Henriquez, Reporter, El Nuevo Herald 
  • Nick Wooten, Accountability Reporter, Ledger-Enquirer
  • Will Wright, Politics Reporter, The Charlotte Observer
  • Olivia Wynkoop, Reporter, Bay City News Foundation


About The Poynter Institute

The Poynter Institute for Media Studies is a global leader in journalism education and a strategy center that stands for uncompromising excellence in journalism, media and 21st-century public discourse. Poynter faculty teach seminars and workshops at the Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida, and at newsrooms, conferences and organizations around the world. Its e-learning division, News University, offers the world’s largest online journalism curriculum, with hundreds of interactive courses and tens of thousands of registered international users. The Institute’s website produces 24-hour coverage about media, ethics, technology and the business of news. Poynter is the home of the Craig Newmark Center for Ethics and Leadership, the Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact, the International Fact-Checking Network and MediaWise, a digital media literacy project for young people, first-time voters and senior citizens. The world’s top journalists and media innovators rely on Poynter to learn and teach new generations of reporters, storytellers, media inventors, designers, visual journalists, documentarians and broadcasters. This work builds public awareness about journalism, media, the First Amendment and discourse that serves democracy and the public good. 

Per Poynter’s Ethics Policy, Poynter maintains editorial independence regarding curriculum and content. The media and journalism fellowship relationship between Poynter and the Stand Together Fellowships is a teaching partnership. A list of Poynter’s largest funders and teaching partners can be found here.

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