We Media Fellowship Recipients

The Media Center offered 15 fellowships for nonprofit, academic and independent media to attend the We Media conference at The Associated Press word headquarters on Oct. 5.

We received about 140 applications from all over the world. It was a highly qualified, exceptional applicant pool, making it very difficult for us to select just fifteen people. Somehow we managed.

Here are the We Media fellowship recipients and their statements about why they wanted to attend We Media:

Nathalie Applewhite
Candidate, Master of International Affairs School of International and Public Affairs
Columbia University

I am working and studying at the crossroads of the fields of media and communications and political science. My interest in media and communications stems from my belief that media’s power lies in its ability to transform perceptions and create new models for understanding and communicating. And today, innovations in new media facilitate a form of empowerment where marginalized communities can tell their own stories and reach wide and diverse audiences.

Last fall, I was one of four US delegates on a US-Syria Citizen’s Exchange program through Columbia University’s Center for International Conflict Resolution. Inspired by this experience, I am developing a media diplomacy initiative which seeks to harness the power of video and Web technologies to facilitate a sustained dialog across borders in an effort to challenge stereotypes, increase understanding and transform relations between the people of Syria and the United States. In many ways, this is an extension of the work I did as an independent filmmaker with my documentary, Picture Me an Enemy, about two young women from the former Yugoslavia which explores the demonization of the Other in times of conflict.

The We Media conference will provide an opportunity to engage and interact with some of the pioneers and visionaries in the field today, and will surely provoke ideas on the potential for new media technologies to shape the way our democracy and our security develop in the future.

Anjali Arora
Freelance Consultant in Information Architecture / User Experience Design

I am a user experience designer / information architect, and Visiting Faculty in Information Architecture at New York University.

I wish to attend this fascinating event in order to better understand the phenomenal changes happening around us as a result of a mix of highly accessible technology and more and more people becoming active producers in the media world. From camera-phone-wielding citizens that help the law-and-order establishment as happened during the recent London bombings, to bloggers who can now not only comment on events as they perceive them but are very likely to find large audiences for their writings; the remarkable success of wikipedia, flickr, delicious: all social applications that work so well, but would have been hard to imagine even five years ago: an encyclopedia built largely by ordinary folk, open-authoring and yet so relevant: you must be kidding!

I recently completed my masters from the Interactive Telecommunications Program, and an area that intrigues me about new media and new technologies is social software and social networks in the digital world. The nature of connectedness offered by new technologies, as also by new ideas / abstractions such as tagging, are mind-boggling and fascinating at the same time. Today, as I sit in New York, looking for a job to sustain me, my mind is working away at entrepreneurial ideas in these fields. In a year or two, I hope to start my own venture that applies ideas from social software, interaction design and findability, and concepts from tagging and beyond to create an exciting product line. I am not sure what shape it is going to take as yet, but I know I need to do it: it is a deep yearning with me to explore and pursue this path of entrepreneurship and new technologies. Attending this conference will play a powerful role in helping me shape and mold this dream.

Dr. Ralph Braseth
Director of Student Media & Assistant Professor of Journalism
The University of Mississippi

If you think the mainstream commercial media is not fully grasping the impact and implications of the "new" journalism and media models, I’d like to invite you to the academic world. Far from being places where new ideas and concepts thrive, WE academic types, for the most part, remain uninformed of the changes and developments in journalism technology. Most of us are stuck on the inverted pyramid and the five Ws and the H. Rather than collaborating and thinking about using the strengths of all media to tell the best possible story, the majority of WE academics is entrenched in the media holes we grew up knowing and practicing. Ironically, newspaper people, the journalists who stand to benefit the most from WE media, seem the least likely to accept change, let alone discuss it. Citizen journalism is not a familiar term and those of us who do know about the concept remain suspicious of “untrained” journalists not to mention the idea is just plain threatening.

I want to attend WE MEDIA in NYC on October 5 because my students deserve to better understand the changes that are coming. My job is to help train the next generation of journalists/storytellers. Our current journalism education models are perhaps stumbling blocks for students attempting to pursue a journalism career.

Four years ago, our student media center decided to make what seemed then like a radical change and a big gamble. We had and continue to have no shortage of critics and naysayers regarding our efforts. Nevertheless, we moved forward and have built what we believe is one of the first fully converged college newsrooms in the country. Our goal is to produce students who will become the next generation of leaders and employees in the journalism and communications professions.

Although we continue to struggle with the problems that accompany major change, we have started to see our students slowly develop into multi-media journalists.

This past year, I visited every newspaper in the state of Mississippi (24 dailies and about 100 weeklies) and every television station with a news department. Unlike so many others, I believe journalism’s best days can still be ahead of us and my students are beginning to believe so, too, but only if WE embrace change and stop sitting on the sidelines waiting and watching.

Journalism education needs to pull up a chair to the discussion. I want to come so my students can learn what I will learn. And in the near future, the highly adaptive media companies that survive are going to need some nimble and talented journalists that I hope to help produce.

Kent Bye
Director, The Echo Chamber Project
MetaThought Productions

The Echo Chamber Project is an open-source collaborative documentary about the failures of the broadcast television news media leading up to the war in Iraq, and how I produce the film will provide some innovative solutions to large-scale, decentralized citizen journalism.

Collaborative editing of this film will be accomplished with an open-source, Internet-based infrastructure and analytical methodologies that will provide a proof-of-concept for how complex investigative journalism projects could be facilitated with a diverse ecosystem of citizen journalists.

This collaborative process includes the distributed transcription of interviews by volunteers, open-sourcing the text and audio of interviews with nearly 70 journalists, media critics, new media leaders and other scholars, and then using the social software of Drupal to add folksonomy tags to sound bites, stringing together sound bite sequences within Drupal, and then generating valid XML to interface with the Final Cut Pro editing software.

I am documenting this process with a video blog, and provide a number of links with more details here: http://www.echochamberproject.com/WeMediaConference

I look forward to attending the We Media Conference to gather more insights and institutional support for The Echo Chamber Project.

Andy Carvin
Director, Digital Divide Network, EDC Center for Media & Community

I’m attending the We Media conference because I am profoundly interested in the role citizens can play as content producers to improve quality of life in their communities.

I run the Digital Divide Network (www.digitaldivide.net), the Internet’s largest community of activists working together to improve Internet access among marginalized communities. DDN strives to educate policymakers, private sector leaders and the public about the role of online technology in civic engagement and economic development. I am particularly interested in the role of blogs and related tools in this regard. Recent surveys suggest that the average blogger is white, well educated and well-off, as is the average blog reader. Blogging has giving countless people a voice, yet the well-connected continue to influence policy within our society, while marginalized communities sit on the sidelines.

That’s why we’re working to introduce blogging, podcasting and vlogging to underprivileged communities. I’ve just returned from podcasting and videoblogging trainings in Ghana, and recently organized the first k-12 vlogging project in Atlantic City, one of America’s most economically challenged communities (www.acroughcuts.com). I’m also working with a group of volunteers to create an open-source tool for mobcasting (www.mobcasting.org) so people anywhere can record and hear podcasts by making a local telephone call. This will have profound impacts on communities that lack Internet access but possess mobile phones.

John Mwendwa Gitari
Fanning Fellow, Kettering Foundation

I am a 32 year-old Fanning Fellow at the Kettering Foundation, a nonprofit research corporation in Dayton, Ohio, which seeks solutions that will “make democracy work as it should and make changes in how democratic policies are practiced.”  I am interested in the fellowship as the conference theme ties very closely with my work as a research fellow. I am writing a paper on how the power of the media can be harnessed to maximize civic and political engagement with a bias for countries undergoing transition. It will provide a comparative newsroom perspective of the technological, market place and political challenges facing the media, with case studies from both transitional and more established democracies.  The seminars will be an excellent opportunity to acquire the latest research on the multi-media world, critique it first hand, and integrate it into my field of study for future academic and training needs. The inter- and intra-personal conversations and social networking events will enable me to sharpen and broaden my topic-related intellectual horizons and build networks crucial to the field for future work, especially in my country Kenya.

Timothy Karr
Campaign Director, Free Press

We Media presents a crucial opportunity to begin solving one of the looming problems of citizen journalism: engaging the millions of Americans drawn to blogging and other participatory media with structural media reform issues.

Too much is at stake for this crowd to remain mute. Legislation is now working its way through local, state and federal rulemaking bodies that could bar millions from access to the most essential tool of the movement: affordable, high-speed Internet. Unless we mobilize to better bridge the digital divide, a majority of Americans will not have access to the new and revolutionary media. Other policies under debate could impact the quality and diversity of content available via public media.

As the campaign director at the nonprofit organization Free Press, I lead the media reform movement’s work to increase public participation in this crucial policy debate at all levels of government. As a widely recognized blogger at mediacitizen.org, I am on the leading edge of participatory journalism. 

At We Media, I intend to continue to build bridges between these two constituencies — media reformers and citizen journalists — work which was begun.

Kathryn Kross
Deputy Director, Center for Public Integrity

I hail from the world of commercial media, having spent nearly 20 years at ABC News. More than half of that time was spent as a producer for Nightline. I was honored to have won five Emmys and a Nieman fellowship at Harvard before becoming a senior producer for World News Tonight with Peter Jennings. Most recently, I spent almost three years at CNN’s Washington bureau, first as a deputy and then as bureau chief where I managed a staff of 300 people. I find myself now at the Center for Public Integrity, a non-profit that practices investigative journalism in the public interest.

I am a happy convert to the nonprofit world, someone who believes that nonprofit, non-partisan journalism will play an increasingly vital role in our society. The Center meanwhile is looking to build on its past successes and enhance its impact through emerging technology. That’s where the We Media Fellowship comes in.

Since 1990, the Center has released more than 275 investigative reports and 15 books. Founded by the inspirational Chuck Lewis, the Center has been honored 33 times by its journalistic peers. Under the new leadership of Executive Director Roberta Baskin, we hope to continue Chuck’s work and expand the Center’s reach, to build a community around our Web site, and ensure the Center’s relevancy far into the next century. I hope the We Media Fellowship can guide us in the journey.

Katie Lips
Creative Technologist and Co-Founder, Kisky Netmedia

I wish to attend the We Media: Behold the Power of Us conference. I am an independent creative technologist working on arts and media projects as an artist and through my small company which I set up with my partner. My projects have synergy with the We Media ethos as they are about user-generated content and active and passive publishing, and I feel I can learn further about these topics through the conference program.

Working with mobile-phone technologies, I aim to create environments which allow people to communicate in new ways. I use technology to enable greater personal creativity and communications ownership for my audiences and would welcome the chance to discuss these concepts and ideas with the We Media attendees. My previous projects have employed the concept of the “audience as artist,” the “user as content contributor,” and have focused on enabling enhanced use of mobile phones and their features.

I am particularly interested exploring in how individual artists and small organizations can enter the wireless content industry (a traditionally “walled garden”) through using collaborative Web technologies to make mobile systems more useful, usable, enjoyable and powerful. I believe simple Web-based technologies can be used to influence the mobile content space. I hope to learn from the global nature of the conference and apply these learnings to my European projects.

For me, the We Media conference represents an opportunity to learn about how communities and individuals collaborate online and how I might apply this to future projects, using both Web and mobile technologies. I hope to learn about how the “power of communities” directs technology service design.

Ndesanjo Macha
Blogger, Jikomboe and Digital Africa

I am applying for the fellowship to attend the forthcoming conference, We Media: Behold the Power of US.  I am a Tanzanian blogger currently based in the US.  I maintain two blogs.  My primary blog, Jikomboe, is in Kiswahili.  Jikomboe has become an inspiration to many other African bloggers, journalists and writers interested in creating a multilingual cyberspace. Kiswahili is spoken by about 100 million people in Africa. My second blog, Digital Africa, is in English. It deals with issues of media, politics, culture and information revolution in Africa.  I occasionally contribute to the Global Voices weblog.

I believe that a conference such as this one should strive to reflect multiple and diverse global experiences. One of the promises of advances in new media is the possibility of amplifying stories, experiences, and voices from the South, which are normally marginalized in the mainstream media. My participation will be a step towards creating a truly inclusive participatory media.

Ron Mwangaguhunga
Editor, The Corsair

I am a New York blogger and cultural columnist for Razor Magazine who regularly covers the evolving landscape of broadcast, digital and print journalism in this age of interactivity. As a media gawker, virtually all of the conversations on the “We Media: Behold the Power of Us” schedule are of interest to me and my fifteen thousand weekly blog readers.

The Corsair blog has been tracking the rise of citizen journalism, from the digital camera footage sent in during the London bombings to their role in the new CBS Evening News format. The conversation on that emerging phenomenon with Dan Gillmor, Susan DeFife and Lex Alexander is an event that I would like to attend and blog about.

The “Culture, Politics and Buzz” panel with Ana Marie Cox, Dominik von Jan and Farai Chideya of Popandpolitics.com, where I am a contributor, is, likewise, a conversation that I would like to hear.

Finally, the opportunity for social networking and creative collaboration is too great to resist. 

I am, as the We Media Behold the Power of Us registration form says, “seeking to tap into the shared knowledge and the collective intelligence of the connected, empowered society.”

Steven C. Podd
Principal, Nesaquake Middle School

I have always been interested in all media and technology my entire career in education. Formerly, I taught media/film/TV technology classes in high school, and work hard as an administrator to insure the faculty and students are aware of the latest technology in computers and media opportunities.

I have been in the forefront in my district in trying to establish a pilot program for TV technology and use in my middle school. My school is now wired and I am planning to introduce classrooms to classroom TV connections, and student TV productions in the near future. I also enjoy introducing media and technology to my graduate students who are training to become future administrators.

I would be very interested in attending the NY City conference on October 5 as the turn-key person in administration in my district for this area. I am a media "junkie" and would be fascinated to attend such a prestigious conference.

John Schott
Chairman, Cinema & Media Studies
Carleton College

I’m delighted to join the most advanced thinkers and makers in the We Media revolution to share ideas about the import and future of this extraordinary transformation in the production and dissemination of news.

My immediate goal is to guide the creation of an all-campus “blogazine” at Carleton College (a private liberal arts school in Northfield, MN), in which students will tell their own stories about campus life and post them daily to the publication. Students will work as single-camera reporters, audio journalists and photo essayists, telling stories with the full range of interactive narrative techniques. This project, probably the first of its kind, should be online by mid-fall, and will be a formal publication of the college.

Additionally, I am looking forward this winter to presenting a class on the rise of personal media and the cooperative citizens journalism movement. This class will include critical commentary and discussion with hands-on production. It will feature a multi-class unit with Chuck Olsen of Blogumentary.

As a long-time executive producer for a national public television series, I am developing a national series on The We Media Revolution. I am eager to meet the “movers and shakers.”

Additionally, I am looking for ideas about how to expand and maintain my weblog portal to information and perspectives on image practices in the Middle East, Camera/Iraq <www.camerairaq.com>. For many visitors, this has become a key link to critical perspectives on the visual image in the Middle East.

Elina Shcop
Founder, Kaleidoscope of Living (KOL)

A few years ago, I pondered a question: How would the understanding of a global Kaleidoscope of Living (KOL) alter the way citizens introspect and interact? What would the world look like if our combined cultures were so intertwined that each of our "living" rituals blossomed from a collage of cultures? What if we could recreate the paradigm of global civilization? KOL, a pending non-profit organization, aims to build a network of global citizens who educate, influence and enlighten each other about the rituals and ideals of their respective cultures.  Written by citizens, advocates, educators, students and visionaries, KOL will create a forum in which citizens discuss "living" through the perspective of the multitude of existing cultures.  How do peers celebrate lifecycle events in India, Chile, Japan, Russia, Spain, Rwanda, Turkey, etc…?  The KOL blog aims to provide citizens a global collaboration of values, ideas and action to help them relate to one another on a humane basis, understand the "life" of inhabitants of the world and, hopefully, respect and admire each other’s differences.

Nichelle Stephens

I have been blogging for two years, and I have used my blog as a way to communicate to my friends and people who share common interests in art, book, food and music. Blogging has been a vehicle for me to express myself creatively and articulate my opinions. The wonderful thing about it is I know that there are people out in the world who can relate to me. Blogging destroys the lonely planet. Recently, I served on the advisory board of BlogHer. At the BlogHer conference, I lead an open discussion where we talked about how African Americans and Latinos can use their blogs to citizen journalists to report on news in their communities and to voice their opinion. I am passionate about blogging because it is important for everyone to have a voice.

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