The following was sent out from The New York Times’ Dean Baquet, who leads the fellowship:
Since announcing the investigative reporting fellowship program, we have received inquiries from young journalists who want to participate, and veteran reporters and editors inside and outside The Times who want to work with us. It has been exciting to watch, and a stirring tribute to the need for more investigative reporting in America’s cities and states.
Sona Patel, one of our star journalists, has been an invaluable guide as the program starts to take shape. So I am thrilled to announce that Sona will join me full time, and take on the title of program and editorial director.
She will help launch the program, and recruit the first class of participants. As an added bonus, her work with the audience team will be invaluable as we ensure that the investigative work we produce has impact.
For the past two years, Sona has led the community team and pioneered some of our most important reader-focused projects. Among other projects, she has worked closely with reporters to develop coverage of how the pandemic reshaped America’s health care system. She has also helped Times reporters find sources and story ideas through reader comments and callouts. When I did a little of my own digging into Sona’s background and work, our head of audience Hannah Poferl was pretty direct. ‘Sona,’ she said, ‘can do anything.’
She started her career as a beat reporter for The (San Luis Obispo) Tribune, covering the small coastal town of Los Osos, which was mired in a multibillion dollar bankruptcy proceeding. She joined The Times in 2012 after three years at The Seattle Times, where she was part of the team that won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news reporting.
In the coming days and weeks, we will be announcing the appointment of other editors, including a deputy who will join me in editing stories and driving local investigations. I intend to be deeply active in all aspects of this work.
The thought of picking local investigations, holding local institutions accountable and helping to create the next generation of investigative reporters excites me to no end. This is the work that got me started in journalism. Sona, the soon-to-be-named deputy, and others inside and outside The Times will be partners in what I hope will be an ambitious and lasting contribution to journalism, and to reporting in particular.