Press Release: Northwestern Selects Social Justice Fellowship Winners

Medill students, professional journalists to investigate mental health issues

October 10, 2014 | by Julie Deardorff | Northwestern News Press Release

EVANSTON, Ill. — An eclectic group of journalists looking to probe deeper into mental health care issues in Chicago has been selected for the second round of an innovative social justice reporting program at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications.

The pioneering initiative, called the Social Justice News Nexus, brings together fellows from the Medill graduate program and from outside Northwestern, including reporters and community or media leaders.

Reporting through the lens of social justice, the 16 fellows (10 professionals and six students) will investigate the city’s public mental health clinics, the mental health care crisis in the Cook County Jail, the link between mental health and violence, and the critical lack of mental health care on the city’s South and West sides.

Student reporters will work directly with a professional journalist; every two weeks they will attend workshops focused on mental health and/or social justice journalism and reporting skills. Their packages of work will ultimately be published by a Chicago-area media outlet.

“The program works to harness both journalistic and community-based resources to serve as catalysts for social change,” said Northwestern’s Jack Doppelt, a journalism professor and principal investigator of the initiative.

Launched in January and funded by a two-year grant from the McCormick Foundation, the program’s first cycle produced stories on drug policy and the impact of drugs in Chicago communities.

Their pieces were published widely, including Chicago’s local public radio station, WBEZ (91.5 FM), The Chicago Reporter, Catalyst Chicago, The Gate and on the Social Justice News Nexus website.

Veteran journalist Bill Healy teamed up with students Caroline Cataldo and Will Houp during the first cycle to “On Chicago’s West side, mothers and children fight addiction side by side” for for WBEZ. Healy is also part of the second round of fellows.

Northwestern’s Louise Kiernan, an associate professor of journalism will oversee the students. Research associate Kari Lydersen will lead the professional journalists. Hana Worku is the coordinator of the News Nexus.

Biographies on the current fellows can be found on the Social Justice News Nexus Web site.

– See more at:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *