In the spring of 2021, the MIT Technology Review announced a fellowship focused on exploring the different ways technology and data are being used to address inequality issues during the pandemic.
With the help of the Heising-Simons Foundation—a family organization based in Los Altos and San Francisco, California that supports projects focused on climate, clean energy, community, opportunity, education, human rights, and science—our call is aimed at finding journalists who can provide thoughtful reporting and insight into systemic, technology, and challenges that the covid-19 virus has brought to disadvantaged communities. Fellows each receive a minimum of $7,500 to conduct their work and the opportunity to publish in the world’s oldest technical publication.
We are proud to announce that the fellowship recipients are:
Lavon Roberts, a freelance journalist covering science, health, and technology from New York, will write about rolling out high-tech immersive recharge rooms for health professionals as a pilot scheme that expands from doctors to other frontline hospital workers. The judges said that her work stood out from the crowd, had a clear, concise and convincing effect.
Eileen Shelley, a Georgia-based freelance writer and documentary filmmaker, studies the impact of COVID-19 on black Americans, and explores how we can better understand the disease and its cultural impacts. The judges had hoped that her work would fill in a missing element from the current coverage of the pandemic. “By focusing on the lives of black women – and her own experience with the long-term symptoms of COVID-19 – Ellen Shelley reports will delve into the intertwining burdens of chronic disease, medical racism and misogyny,” they said.
Chandra Whitfield A multi-media writer and journalist from Colorado, he will examine how black women have been particularly affected by the intersection of the pandemic and domestic violence—and will look at how relevant data is collected. The judges said it “identified an important policy issue” and formulated the proposal “with a sense of purpose and urgency”.
Our newsroom fellowship goes to Rob Chany, which covers environment and science at the University of Montana Missoulian. Robb and his colleagues have been exploring the results of responding to the virus and increasing federal financial support in Montana’s indigenous communities, particularly on the Black Feet Reservation. The judges agreed that his proposal was the “clear winner” in its category.
The evaluation of the entries was a panel of experienced journalists and researchers with intimate knowledge of the issues at hand: Alexis Madrigal, participant in public radio KQED forum; Crystal Tsotsi, a geneticist at Vanderbilt University and a board member of the Indigenous Biodata Consortium; Mark Rochester, a seasoned investigative journalist and managing editor of the San Diego nonprofit newsroom Inewsource; And Sima Yasmine, journalist, physician, and director of the Health Communication Initiative at Stanford.