2012 Immigration in the Heartland Fellows Announced

"With immigration policy front and center in this year’s political campaigns, 14 journalists have been selected to take part in a fellowship program that challenges reporters to go beyond familiar sound bites and cover the complexities of immigration with depth and context.

The Immigration in the Heartland program is being conducted by the Institute for Justice and Journalism in partnership with the University of Oklahoma’s Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication and its Institute for Research and Training. It is funded by a grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

An April 20-25 conference will feature discussions with experts, field reporting and professional workshops at Gaylord College in Norman and in Oklahoma City. Issues to be explored include the election-year debate over immigration policy, the electoral impact of immigrants, the demographics of immigration, new developments in state legislation and the effect of federal, state and local enforcement programs.

The selected journalists, from print, broadcast and online reporting sites, are:

  • Graham Brewer, Oklahoma Watch
  • Kate Brumback, Associated Press, Atlanta
  • Cindy Carcamo, Orange County Register, Santa Ana, Calif.
  • Kristen Hare, St. Louis Beacon
  • Sandra Hernandez, Los Angeles Times
  • Jude Joffe-Block, KNPR Nevada Public Radio, Las Vegas
  • Maria Martin, freelancer, NPR and Latino USA, Antigua, Guatemala
  • David Montero, Salt Lake Tribune
  • Monica Ortiz Uribe, KRWG Radio, Las Cruces, N.M.
  • Erica Pearson, New York Daily News
  • Jeremy Redmon, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  • Edward Sifuentes, North County Times, San Diego.
  • Jessica Weisberg, freelancer, the Guardian (U.K.), Chicago
  • Maria Zamudio, Chicago Reporter

Each fellow will produce an in-depth project story or a series of shorter stories about immigration. The program’s faculty includes seven IJJ senior fellows: Vallery Brown, staff reporter at the Oklahoman; Daniel Kowalski, immigration attorney and editor-in-chief of Bender’s Immigration Bulletin; Phuong Ly, director of Gateway California; Kari Lydersen, Chicago freelancer; Martha Mendoza, national writer for the Associated Press; Dianne Solís, senior writer at the Dallas Morning News, and Warren Vieth, a Gaylord College professor and interim editor for Oklahoma Watch.

The Institute for Justice and Journalism, based in Oakland, Calif., supports in-depth reporting and commentary through professional development fellowships and workshops.  IJJ is an independent 501(c)3 organization, building on nine years of affiliation with the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism at the University of Southern California.  Its website provides reporting resources to strengthen journalism about justice issues.

Program Highlights

Three Pulitzer Prize winners will participate in the 2012 Immigration in the Heartland conference at Gaylord College in April. Vargas, Kammer and Mendoza are among more than a dozen immigration experts and veteran reporters who will work with the 14 professional journalists who received Heartland reporting fellowships this year.

Jose Antonio Vargas

Jose Antonio Vargas, a former Washington Post reporter who sparked a national debate last year by writing “My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant” for the New York Times Magazine, will speak to conference participants on the evening of Monday, April 23. Vargas, founder of the advocacy group Define American, was part of a Washington Post team that won a Pulitzer for its coverage of the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech.

Jerry Kammer

Jerry Kammer, a former Arizona Republic immigration reporter who now researches policy issues for the Center for Immigration Studies. Kammer received a Pulitzer in 2005 for exposing the Randy Cunningham congressional bribery scandal.

Martha Mendoza

Martha Mendoza, an Associated Press national writer based in California, will train conference participants in the use of the TRAC immigration database and the Freedom of Information Act process. Mendoza won a 2000 Pulitzer Prize as part of a team that revealed how American soldiers early in the Korean War killed hundreds of civilians at the No Gun Ri bridge."