Three veteran journalists were awarded grants of up to $15,000 as the first recipients of the McGraw Fellowships for Business Journalism. The funding will support reporting on Chinese investment in the U.S. food industry, the overseas challenges faced by online giant Amazon and the economic links between the growth in prescription pain drugs and rising heroin addiction.

The newly launched 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.

In an age when many news organizations no longer have resources to tackle complex, time-consuming stories, 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.

Nearly 70 journalists from more than a half-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 guidance and assistance in placing their stories with established print, radio or digital outlets.

The first McGraw Fellows for 2014 are:

Tom Mashberg Pix*Tom Mashberg: An award-winning former investigative editor for the Boston Herald, Mashberg will delve into the business and economic ties between heroin use and the spread of powerful prescription painkillers. The project is a follow-up to a yearlong series produced by The Record (Bergen County, NJ) that a finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting. Mashberg played a key role in reporting that series, which looked at the deadly addiction crisis caused by the widespread abuse of street heroin and opiate-based prescription pain medications in New Jersey. During the Fellowship, he will again work with The Record to build on those earlier stories.

Nate Halverson Pix*Nate Halverson: A San Francisco-based freelance writer who is working with The Center for Investigative Reporting, Halverson will focus on the massive buying spree China has begun in the U.S. and around the globe as it looks to play an expanding and influential role in world agriculture. The need is urgent for a country where 1.4 billion people are increasingly demanding more meat but where farmland is already pushed to near capacity. The project will look at what China’s plans could mean for food and water scarcity–an issue that many say will rival access to oil as the largest source of geopolitical unrest in the coming decades.

Jay Greene Pix*Jay Greene: A business reporter for the Seattle TimesGreene will use his Fellowship to examine the legal and cultural difficulties faced by online giant Amazon as it expands internationally. The Internet retailer’s aggressive, hyper-competitive style has fueled its rapid rise in U.S., but it has run into objections overseas from lawmakers, unions and others who want to protect their businesses, their workers–and perhaps most important, their cultures. While Amazon remains popular with consumers, these international challenges have slowed its powerful growth engine.

Applications for McGraw Fellowships will be considered twice a year, in the spring and the fall. The deadline for Fall 2014 proposals is Oct. 24, 2014.

The McGraw Center for Business Journalism was established in early 2014 by the family of the late Harold W. McGraw, Jr., former chairman and CEO of McGraw-Hill and long-time publisher of BusinessWeek magazine. The Center is dedicated to enhancing the depth and quality of business news coverage through training, student scholarships and support for veteran journalists.

For more information about the McGraw Fellowships or the McGraw Center for Business Journalism, please go to or contact Jane Sasseen at [email protected].