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Center for Media Innovation relaunches $20,000 media fellowship 

The Center for Media Innovation at Point Park University is relaunching the second year of its $20,000 Doris O’Donnell Innovations in Investigative Journalism Fellowship after pushing pause in 2020 during the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The pandemic has highlighted two conflicting truths about local journalism – the public wants and needs access to original reporting, and the newsrooms that generate that content are more fragile than ever,” said Andrew Conte, director of the Center for Media Innovation. “The O’Donnell fellowship addresses these needs by helping local newsrooms tell enterprising stories in areas of the United States that remain largely uncovered.”

THE APPLICATION DEADLINE HAS PASSED. The winner will be announced April 14, 2021.

With the goal of making an even bigger impact, the fellowship this year also will award second- and third-place prizes of $5,000 and $2,500. The fellowship is made possible through a three-year grant from the Allegheny Foundation.

The fellowship winner will have eight months to report and publish or broadcast stories. The honoree will be required to come to Point Park University’s Downtown Pittsburgh campus to meet with students and attend a celebration of their work. If the ongoing pandemic does not allow an in-person visit, other arrangements will be made.

A panel of seven distinguished judges with credentials in innovative and investigative journalism will evaluate applicants based on value, innovation, engagement, diversity and ability. That panel includes:

  • Penny Abernathy, a former executive at The Wall Street Journal and New York Times who is now a visiting professor at Northwestern University, collaborating with colleagues at the Medill School on the Local News Initiative. She is the author of “The Expanding News Deserts,” a major report that documents the decline and loss of local news organizations in the U.S.
  • David Folkenflik, a media correspondent for NPR News, and host and editor of On Point from NPR and WBUR, Boston’s NPR station. His stories and analyses are broadcast throughout NPR’s newsmagazines, including All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and Here & Now.
  • Andrew Fraser, senior publishing editor at The Wall Street Journal. He spent time as editor of the Valley News Dispatch newspaper in suburban Pittsburgh and as business editor of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Fraser also worked nearly two decades at The Associated Press in newsroom management roles and as a reporter and editor.
  • Amber Hunt, an investigative reporter for the Cincinnati Enquirer. She is part of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team at the Enquirer, where she also hosts the podcast “Accused,” an award-winning true crime serial that reached No. 1 on iTunes and has 20 million downloads to date. She’s written six books, including the New York Times bestseller “The Kennedy Wives.
  • Brentin Mock, a Pittsburgh-based staff writer for CityLab, a standalone website from Bloomberg Media that explores trends shaping our country’s urban future, and captures the creativity and vibrancy of our increasingly urbanized world.

  • Carl Prine, former editor of the Navy Times, who covered the invasion of Iraq for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and was later deployed to Iraq as an Army guardsman. Prior to the Navy Times, he covered the military beat and breaking national news at the San Diego Union-Tribune. In 2012, Prine won an Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for “Rules of Engagement,” a report on a 2007 incident in which U.S. soldiers shot three unarmed deaf Iraqi boys.

  • Salena Zito is a contributor to The Wall Street Journal and RealClearPolitics, Washington Examiner reporter and New York Post columnist, as well as coauthor of “The Great Revolt: Inside the Populist Coalition Reshaping American Politics.”

“Right now, journalists have little spare time or energy to think about anything beyond their work and the daily challenges they’re facing,” Conte said. “We have made the application process as painless as possible, and it’s our hope that these additional two weeks will make it even easier for journalists who need support.”

THE APPLICATION DEADLINE HAS PASSED. The winner will be announced April 14, 2021.