The McGraw Fellows
Seven veteran journalists were awarded grants of up to $15,000 in 2014, as the first recipients of the McGraw Fellowships for Business Journalism. The winning projects explored a wide range of issues: from Chinese investment in the U.S. food industry and the challenges online giant Amazon faces as it expands in Europe, to the unregulated rise of genetic medical tests and the link between digital labor and the de-skilling of the American workplace.
The new Fellowships, an initiative of the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Center for Business Journalism at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, were created to support ambitious, long-form 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. Each McGraw Fellow receives a stipend of $5,000 a month for up to three months.
Roughly 150 journalists from more than a dozen countries applied for the initial awards. The winners were chosen following interviews and a thorough review of applicants’ detailed proposals, work samples and references. In addition to financial backing, the McGraw Center provides Fellows with editorial support and assistance in placing their stories with established print, radio or digital outlets.
The 2014 McGraw Fellows were:
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.
At the time of his Fellowship, Jay Greene was a business reporter for The Seattle Times focused on covering Amazon.com. He previously spent ten years as BusinessWeek’s Seattle bureau chief, where he wrote primarily about Microsoft. He has also worked as a senior writer for the technology news Web site, CNET. Greene is the author of “Design Is How It Works: How the Smartest Companies Turn Products into Icons” (Penguin/Portfolio). He’s also won several national awards, including, most recently, the Best In Business Award for Explanatory Journalism from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW) for a series he wrote in 2012 on the life cycle of an iPhone.
Greene used his Fellowship to write a three-part series for The Seattle Times examining the legal and cultural difficulties faced by online giant Amazon as it expands internationally. The series, which ran in August 2014, was a finalist for SABEW’s 2015 Best in Business Awards for explanatory journalism.
Nate Halverson is a freelance reporter living in San Francisco. His current work with The Center for Investigative Reporting examines the growing corporate battle to control the world’s increasingly coveted food and water sources. In May 2014 he finished a two-year project helping report a PBS Frontline documentary on the U.S. casinos operating in Macau, China, now the world’s largest gambling center. Previous to that, he spent five years as a staff reporter at The Press Democrat newspaper in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he investigated the failure of Sonoma Valley Bank, uncovering questionable loans between senior bank officials and a group of tight real estate developers, which this year resulted in four people being arrested and charged with felony bank fraud. Halverson graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Economics.
Halverson’s Fellowship project focused on the massive buying spree China has begun in the U.S. and around the globe to feed its growing middle class population. In a series of stories produced for The Center for Investigative Reporting and PBS NewsHour, he uncovered the deep role that the Chinese government played in the purchase of Smithfield Foods, the largest acquisition ever of a U.S. company by a Chinese firm. His stories also examined broader concerns that China’s expansion into the American market could ultimately undermine the food security of the United States.
Halverson’s video story for PBS NewsHour, “Who’s Behind the Chinese Takeover of the World’s Biggest Pork Producer?” won a 2015 Emmy for outstanding business and economic reporting in a regular newscast.
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.
Tom Mashberg is an award-winning investigative reporter and editor and former Sunday editor and investigative editor at the Boston Herald. He has worked as an editor and reporter for The New York Times and The Boston Globe. His work includes exposés on the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum heist; the Massachusetts Medical Examiner’s Office; the Boston Police Department; and the plague of heroin abuse in New Jersey, for which he was a Pulitzer co-finalist in 2014. His investigative reporters have won numerous awards from the New England Associated Press Newspaper Association. Mashberg is a two-time recipient of a George Polk grant for investigative reporting from Long Island University. Since 2012, he has also been a regular contributor to The New York Times culture section, focusing on art and antiquities theft and repatriation. He is coauthor of “Stealing Rembrandts: The Untold Stories Behind Notorious Heists,” a Wall Street Journal true crime bestseller.
Mashberg’s Fellowship project explores the business and economic ties between heroin use and the spread of powerful prescription painkillers. It is currently being edited for publication.
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.