Media News

Seven journalists win McGraw Center Biz Journalism grants

June 28, 2023

Posted by Chris Roush

Seven veteran journalists have been named the latest recipients of the McGraw Fellowship for Business Journalism. Each of the winning projects will receive a grant of up to $15,000.

The new McGraw Fellows will explore subjects ranging from the FDA’s standards for drug approval and the role of payments and communications companies in US prisons, to the labor and environmental practices of companies in the green economy.

The McGraw Fellowships, an initiative of the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Center for Business Journalism at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York, were created in 2014 to support ambitious coverage of critical issues related to the global economy, finance and business. The Fellowships – awarded twice a year – enable experienced journalists to produce deeply-reported investigative or enterprise stories. Some 65 journalists have since won McGraw Fellowships.

The new McGraw Fellows for Summer ‘23 are:

  • Pramod Acharya: A freelance investigative journalist and documentary producer living in Nepal, Acharya will use his fellowship to examine the labor practices of Western brands operating in the Middle East. Acharya covers the issues of forced labor, modern slavery, and human trafficking in Asia and the Persian Gulf. His recent investigations have covered the exploitation of South Asian migrant workers in Qatar’s construction sector, the experiences of human trafficking survivors in the UAE and Kuwait, the plight of imprisoned migrant workers in Saudi Arabia, and the operations of trafficking rings in Asia and Arab nations. He also writes about climate change, human rights, and other social justice issues; previously, he worked in the US as a Data Reporter at Investigate Midwest, focusing on agribusiness-related topics.

    Acharya’s work has been published in various international outlets, including The New York Times, The Guardian, Reuters, BBC, CNN, Channel 4, Open Democracy, Financial Times, and His video story for The New York Times, highlighting the exploitation of Nepali migrant workers during Qatar’s construction spree in the run-up to the World Cup, was a finalist for the Pictures of the Year International’s Documentary News Reporting Award in 2022. Acharya has also been involved in investigations on human rights issues, collaborating with organizations such as Amnesty International, The Remedy Project, Fair Square, and One World Research.

  • Jeanne Lenzer and Shannon Brownlee: Lenzer is an award-winning independent journalist based in New York. Brownlee has been a journalist and public intellectual for thirty-plus years. Together they will examine the FDA’s falling scientific standards for drug approvals and how industry money and influence has affected these standards.

    Lenzer has been a medical investigative journalist for more than two decades. She has written for Mother Jones, Washington Post, The New York Times, The New Republic, Discover, Atlantic, Smithsonian, The BMJ (a leading international medical journal), and many other outlets. She is the author of The Danger Within Us: America’s Untested, Unregulated Medical Device Industry and One Man’s Battle to Survive It.

    Brownlee’s career spans 30 years, first as a senior writer at US News & World Report then a Schwartz Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation, and most recently as Senior Vice President of the Lown Institute, a healthcare think tank based in Boston, MA. The winner of numerous journalism awards, she has been published in the New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, Washington Monthly, Sunday Times of London, New Republic, Slate, Time, Washington Post and several leading medical journals, among others. She is the author of Overtreated; Why Too Much Medicine is Making Us Sicker and Poorer.

  • Eric S. Peterson and Emma Penrod: Peterson is the executive director and founder of The Utah Investigative Journalism Project. Penrod is an award-winning investigative journalist based in the state. They will investigate environmental and labor issues facing companies in the green economy.

    Peterson has been an investigative reporter in Utah for the past decade and gained acclaim for breaking major stories about pay-to-play corruption allegations at the Utah Attorney General’s Office years before his competition. He’s won nearly a dozen First Place awards from the Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in its most competitive division.  He placed third nationally in the 2014 Association for Alternative Newsmedia Awards for coverage of homelessness in Salt Lake City, a series that included time spent undercover at the local homeless shelter. In 2022 he won the National Association of Real Estate Editors’ grand prize for reporting on evictions. He is also the past president of the Utah Headliners.

    Penrod focuses on agriculture, energy and environmental health news, and has a particular interest in exploring science-based solutions for building sustainable and equitable businesses. Her work has appeared in numerous trade and business publications, as well as consumer outlets including Sierra magazine, Newsweek, Insider, The Weather Channel, High Country News and The Salt Lake Tribune. In 2019 she was recognized for her contributions to environmental health by Utah Physicians for Healthy Environment. Her work in collaboration with other investigative journalists at Religion Unplugged to expose a secretive $100 billion investment account held by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has received honors from the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing and other organizations. She is also a published historian, the author of two books and current president of the Utah Headliners.

  • Kit Ramgopal: A New York-based investigative reporter, Ramgopal will cover concentration in the U.S. poultry industry and the unique financial challenges facing farmers under contract.

    She is a freelance print and television journalist, currently working as an associate producer for “60 Minutes.” Previously, she was a reporter with the NBC News Investigative Unit, where she specialized in national security, elections, technology and government spending. Her collaborative work has been recognized by the Livingston Awards, the National Headliner Awards, National Press Club Awards, the Emmy Awards and the Toner Prize for Excellence in National Political Reporting, among others.

  • Tatiana Walk-Morris: A Detroit-born, Chicago-based independent journalist, Walk-Morris will examine the rise of prison payment and communications companies in the U.S. and their impact on prisoners and their loved ones.Her reporting primarily focuses on business and technology, but she has also reported on health and social justice issues. Her work has appeared in Vanity Fair, Vox, Vice, The Chicago Reader, Hour Detroit magazine and various other local and national publications; in addition, her business-to-business reporting has appeared in publications like Chicago Lawyer magazine, Planning magazine and Dark Reading, where she covered law, urban planning and cybersecurity. She currently contributes to Retail Dive and Payments Dive, covering the retail and payments industries. Her 2018 Cosmopolitan article  on the Transportation Security Administration’s screenings of Black women’s hair was cited in a 2019 congressional hearing regarding policies to prevent unlawful TSA profiling.

More than 100 journalists working across a wide array of subjects applied for the latest round of the Fellowships. Each winning project receives funding up to $15,000. In addition to financial backing, the McGraw Center provides Fellows with editorial guidance and assistance in placing stories with media outlets.

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