Young journalists take next steps

Reprinted with permission from The Washington Post

By Lynne Perri


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A Pulitzer: The Washington Post won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service“For its compellingly told and vividly presented account of the assault on Washington on January 6, 2021, providing the public with a thorough and unflinching understanding of one of the nation’s darkest days.“

Graduate students working in The Washington Post practicum under John Sullivan, a Post reporter and senior editor at IRW, received contributing reporting credit in the series and played a key role in the overall coverage of the attack.

For more than a year, those students also have populated and maintained a database tracking all the Capitol rioters and their legal cases. A shout-out to American University grad students McKenzie Beard, Caroline Cliona Boyle, Heather MacNeil, Aneeta Mathur-Ashton, Vanessa Montalbano, Megan Ruggles, Nick Trombola and Carley Welch. And congratulations to Sammy Sussman, a recent graduate of the University of Michigan and former IRW intern who also contributed to the winning work. Sussman will join IRW again this summer.

Several of IRW’s interns of the past year are now moving on:

• Aarushi Sahejpal is joining Miles, a transportation rewards start-up in Mountain View, California, and has been accepted into the Master’s in Data Science program at American University. Sahejpal worked on The Accountability Project as an intern at IRW.

• Aneeta Mathur-Ashton continues at Yahoo News, where she is working with Chief Investigative Correspondent Michael Isikoff to cover major unfolding issues in Congress. She covered immigration issues while at IRW and maintained our timeline tracking the administration’s changes to immigration policy.

Lauren Berryman joined Modern Healthcare as the Healthcare Reporting Fellow in Washington, D.C., this month. She’ll be writing feature stories and covering breaking news about health policy and health business. Berryman has been covering public health issues while at IRW, including one on the increase in childhood cancer despite better treatment and another on how states are regulating the use of toxic chemicals, rather than waiting for the EPA to take action.

Heidi Kirk will join WBOC TV as a reporter, working out of its Milton, Delaware, bureau and covering Sussex County. She starts in July. Kirk focused on video editing with IRW and also researched a sports investigative piece. She recently completed an internship at The Lead with Jake Tapper on CNN.

Haley Murphy will join Singer Associates Public Relations in San Francisco as an assistant account executive in June. Murphy’s research and reporting on sexual assaults will be featured in upcoming stories.

Riley Rogerson is joining the Report for America program as the Anchorage Daily News politics reporter in D.C. Rogerson worked on stories related to toxic air and water in IRW’s collaboration with Public Health Watch, including a story about the Oxbow plant in Texas that continues to emit as much lung-damaging sulfur dioxide as it did before the Clean Air Act was passed 51 years ago.

Carley Welch will join Politico as a digital producer this summer. Welch has spent the academic year researching issues around access to clean water as part of a deeper look at environmental issues; her work will be included in upcoming stories.

And two students in our graduate practicum at The Washington Post are joining the news organization full time:

McKenzie Beard is joining the 202 newsletter team as a full-time researcher for The Health 202. Beard began working for the newsletter in January.  

• Vanessa Montalbano is joining the 202 newsletter team as a full-time researcher for The Climate 202.

As part of the practicum, both students contributed to the data analysis and reporting on multiple investigations in the newsroom, including “The Attack: Before, During and After” stories about the insurrection, and the podcast series “Broken Doors,” which examines the use of no-knock warrants across the country. They and other practicum students also researched candidates who supported “the big lie” and voting officials who faced threats for their work upholding the 2020 election results.