The McGraw Fellows
Seven veteran journalists won grants of up to $15,000 as the 2015 recipients of the McGraw Fellowships for Business Journalism. The winning projects covered a wide range of issues, from the unregulated rise of genetic testing to the link between digital labor and the de-skilling of the American workplace and the economic challenges ahead for Cuba as relations with the U.S. are restored.
The McGraw Fellowships, an initiative of the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Center for Business Journalism at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, were created in 2014 to support ambitious coverage of critical issues related to the U.S. economy and business. The Fellowships, awarded twice a year, enable accomplished journalists to do the deep reporting needed to produce a distinguished investigative or enterprise business story. Altogether, 16 Fellowships have been awarded to date.
Some 130 journalists working in nearly a dozen countries applied for the 2015 Fellowships. The winners were chosen following interviews and a thorough review of detailed proposals, work samples and references.
The new McGraw Fellows for 2015 were:
A freelance journalist based in Denver, William M. Adler’s work has appeared in Esquire, Rolling Stone, Mother Jones, and the Texas Observer. He also has written three books of narrative nonfiction: Land of Opportunity, an intimate look at the rise and fall of a crack cocaine empire; Mollie’s Job, which follows the flight of a single factory job from the US to Mexico over the course of fifty years; and The Man Who Never Died, a biography of the labor martyr Joe Hill. He is a past recipient of the Ted Scripps Fellowship in Environmental Journalism and the Alicia Patterson Foundation Fellowship. Most recently he co-founded and served as news director for a community radio station in rural Costa Rica.
Adler’s Fellowship project examines the economic, environmental and geopolitical ramifications of the planned Nicaraguan Interoceanic Canal, a Chinese-built 178-mile waterway across the Central American isthmus that would be the world’s biggest construction project. His story is currently being edited for publication in Pacific Standard magazine.
Beth Daley is an award-winning reporter at the New England Center for Investigative Reporting. She covered the environment, science and education for the Boston Globe for more than two decades before joining NECIR. A Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2008 for stories examining the impact of climate change on New England, Daley was a 2011 Knight Fellow at Stanford University. While there, she created EnviroFact, a collaborative clearinghouse to verify environmental claims, and helped develop a crowd-sourced online investigative journalism show. Daley’s two-year investigation of mislabeled fish in Boston-area restaurants also won awards from the Society of Business Editors and Writers (SABEW) and the National Press Club.
Daley’s Fellowship project investigated the increasing use of unregulated genetic tests in medicine, their costs and the industry’s role in promoting them. Daley’s previous work on the subject won a 2015 Best In Business Award for health care reporting from SABEW as well as top honors for investigative reporting from the Association of Health Care Journalists. Her first McGraw Fellowship story ran in the Boston Globe in October 2015; a second was published by the Globe in March 2016.
A Seattle-based freelance technology reporter, Mark Harris writes regularly for the Economist, the Guardian and New Scientist, and is a Contributing Editor at IEEE Spectrum magazine. Prior to moving to the U.S. in 2008, he wrote and edited for many British newspapers and magazines, including the Sunday Times, the Independent and Metro. Harris was a 2014 Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT. His 2012 investigation into the failures of portable defibrillators won the Grand Neal Award, the top prize in business-to-business journalism, from American Business Media.
Harris used the Fellowship to explore digital labor and the deskilling of the American workplace. He examined the role of the online marketplaces and digital technologies that are radically altering the world of work, allowing jobs that once demanded hard-fought skills and years of education or experience to be parceled out to the cloud. His story, “It’s Not Just Robots: Skilled Jobs Going to ‘Meatware’,” ran on the digital site Backchannel in June 2016.
A freelance journalist based in Vermont, Rowan Jacobsen writes frequently for Harpers, Outside, Mother Jones, Orion, and other magazines. His Outside piece on the Bolivian cocoa trade, “Heart of Dark Chocolate,” received the Lowell Thomas Award from the Society of American Travel Writers for best adventure story of the year; his Eating Well piece on the collapse of honey bee colonies, “Or Not to Bee,” received a James Beard Award; his Harper’s piece on endangered Indian elephants, “The Homeless Herd,” was named best magazine piece of the year by the Overseas Press Club; and his Outside piece “Spill Seekers” on the impact of British Petroleum’s Gulf oil spill was selected for Best American Science & Nature Writing. He was a 2012 Alicia Patterson Foundation fellow, writing about endangered cultures on the borderlands between India, Myanmar, and China. He is also the author of six books, including Fruitless Fall, The Living Shore, and Shadows on the Gulf.
Jacobsen used the Fellowship to look at the potential of Silicon Valley’s new high-tech meat substitutes to disrupt the traditional meat industry and mitigate its significant contribution to climate change. His story, “The Biography of a Plant-Based Burger,” was the September 2016 cover of Pacific Standard magazine.
Robert Lenzner is a veteran financial reporter who has covered Wall Street for nearly 40 years, A longtime National Editor for Forbes Magazine whose work has appeared in the Economist, Vanity Fair, the Boston Globe and elsewhere, he is the author of the best-selling biography “The Great Getty.” In 2014 he was a Fellow at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School, where he wrote on the media’s failure to foresee problems that led to the 2008 financial crisis — and how it can avoid similar mistakes in the future.
Lenzner has used the Fellowship to examine the vulnerability of giant banks in the U.S. and Europe to the growing threat of cyber attacks. His story is currently being edited for publication.
Maria Perez is a staff reporter for the Naples Daily News, where she reports on Southwest Florida’s multi-ethnic communities. A native of Spain, she covers immigration policy, housing, labor conditions and other issues affecting the working class. Perez, who previously reported for El Nuevo Herald in Miami and El Mundo in Madrid, received a Sigma Delta Chi award for public service journalism in 2013 from the Society of Professional Journalists.
Perez produced a 12-part bilingual multimedia series for the paper in August, 2015 on the economic changes underway in Cuba as local entrepreneurs and U.S. multinationals alike seek opportunities to tap into a market in dire need of investment and development.
A freelance reporter and former correspondent for the Financial Times in New York and New Delhi, Amy Yee was a 2013 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economics and Business at Columbia University. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Economist, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, the Washington Post and other publications. In 2014, she was a Gold winner in the United Nations Correspondents’ Association awards for reporting from South Asia. In 2013, Yee was a member of a GlobalPost team that was awarded first place for Public Health Reporting by the Association of Healthcare Journalists; she was also a two-time winner in the South Asian Journalists Association Awards.
For the Fellowship, Yee wrote half-a-dozen stories in the summer of 2015 on the efforts to improve safety in Bangladesh’s garment factories two years after the collapse of Rana Plaza, the world’s deadliest textile industry disaster, for outlets including the Washington Post, NPR and the Voice of America.
One of those stories, “Exporting Clothes, Importing Safety,” was included in the annual anthology of “Best American Essays” published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and was named the outstanding business story of the year by the South Asian Journalism Association. It was originally published by the digital site Roads & Kingdoms in 2015.