2011 Dart Academic Fellows Named

Fourteen journalism educators from the United States, Canada, Great Britain and Australia will gather at Columbia University in June for intensive training on teaching accurate, ethical, and sensitive coverage of tragedy.

The Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma today announced the recipients of the 2011 Dart Academic Fellowship Program.

The fellows – 14 journalism educators from North America, Australia, and Great Britain – will meet at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism from June 15-18 for intensive training on teaching accurate, ethical, and sensitive coverage of tragedy. Sponsored by the Dart Center with additional support from the University of Washington Center for Global Studies, this year’s program marks the second annual Dart Academic Fellowships.

“Like our 2010 inaugural class, this year’s group has an impressive variety of local, national, and international professional and personal experience,” said Meg Spratt, director of Dart West, Dart’s academic office located at the University of Washington Department of Communication. “Each fellow has shown a passion and commitment for learning more about trauma and applying that knowledge to their journalism teaching.”

The 2011 Dart Center Academic Fellows are (detailed biographies below):

  • S.L. Alligood, Assistant Professor, Middle Tennessee State University School of Journalism
  • Lisa Armstrong, Adjunct Faculty, Craft of Journalism, City University of New York
  • Susan Bell, Trainer, Concordia University, Centre for Oral History, Montreal, Canada
  • Bruce Berman, Assistant Professor and Visual Journalism Sequence Coordinator, New Mexico State University Department of Journalism & Mass Communication
  • Dan Close, Associate Professor, Elliott School of Communication, Wichita State University, KS
  • Emma Gilliam, Lecturer, Broadcast Journalism, Cardiff University, Wales, UK
  • Andrea Miller, Associate Professor, Louisiana State University Manship School of Mass Communication
  • Orayb Najjar, Professor of Journalism, Northern Illinois University Department of Communication
  • Sarah Niblock , Head of Journalism, Brunel University, London, UK
  • Katherine Reed, Associate Professor Print and Digital News, University of Missouri, Columbia
  • Andrew Skerritt, Assistant Professor of Journalism, Florida A&M University, School of Journalism and Graphic Communication
  • Douglas Underwood, Professor, University of Washington Department of Communication, Seattle
  • Alexandra Wake, Lecturer, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia
  • Amy Schmitz Weiss, Assistant Professor, San Diego State University School of Journalism and Media Studies

S.L. Alligood joined the Middle Tennessee State University faculty in the fall of 2008 following almost 30 years as a print reporter, including more than 11 years at the Nashville Banner, where he received Honorable Mention in the Dart Award competition. In 1998, Alligood moved to The Tennessean, also in Nashville, where he worked for ten and a half years and primarily wrote human interest and narrative stories on a variety of beats. He also was an embedded reporter covering the 101st Airborne Division in Afghanistan and Iraq. His writing has won numerous awards in national, regional and state contests. Alligood has written for USA Today, Newsweek and numerous regional publications. He also was a contributor to "Saluting American Valor: Selfless Courage at the Moment of Truth" (2010), a selection of stories about servicemen and women who have been decorated in battle during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

Lisa Armstrong has written for numerous publications and websites, including the Washington Post, National Geographic, Parade, Ms., Essence, Theatlantic.com, USA Today, The Daily Beast and O, The Oprah Magazine. Armstrong grew up in Nairobi, Kenya and in recent years has traveled to Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, India, Tajikistan and other countries, writing mostly about humanitarian issues. She won an award from the American Society of Journalists and Authors for an article about a Kenyan village formed by women who were allegedly raped by British soldiers. Armstrong has been reporting from Haiti since the January 2010 earthquake through a grant from The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Her work there has focused primarily on violence against women and girls and the challenges faced by people living with HIV. Armstrong has master’s degrees in journalism and in urban planning with a concentration in international development.

Susan Bell is a journalism trainer at Concordia University. She has 20 years experience as a journalist. Much of that time has been spent as a host and award-winning documentary producer at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, most recently as a trainer/producer with the CBC’s Northern Services. She has also trained women in Afghanistan as part of a project funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). Still an active journalist, she is currently working on a French- and English-language documentary project to tell the stories of First Nations survivors of Canada’s residential school system. In 2008, she was a Nieman Global Health Reporting Fellowship finalist, with a study plan centered on the need to train journalists to interact more sensitively with traumatized people.

Bruce Berman has been a professional photographer for almost four decades. He has always worked in the documentary—or Concerned Photographer— style. His initial projects were in Chicago where he photographed Appalachian migrants, Black Panthers during the tumultuous 1960s and the gritty street life of its Rust Belt years. For the past 26 years his main work has concentrated on the U.S./Mexico border, particularly the narrow stretch of land that encompasses El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico. Berman has created the Border Blog so that followers of his work can keep up with his Photo of the Week, the border, Juarez, El Paso, Chicanisimo, the mythical place that is known as El Chuco. In addition, Berman’s work can be seen on a regular basis in The New York Times, Time and other national and international publications. He specializes in teaching Documentary Photojournalism and Multimedia. 

Dan Close is an associate professor in the Elliott School of Communication at Wichita State University. He has been a college teacher for 26 years. He was a reporter and editor at The Wichita Eagle and other newspapers for 14 years. Close was the editorial consultant for “Bind, Torture, Kill: The Inside Story of the Serial Killer Next Door” (HarperCollins, 2007).  In his professional and freelance career, Close has covered multiple homicides, killer F-5 tornadoes, tear gas-infused race riots, violent union strikes, deadly plane crashes, crippling ice storms and flooding. He has reported on homeless drifters, abandoned elderly and people with mental illnesses. Close has been the adviser to the WSU student newspaper for 13 years and has helped thousands of students deal with difficult stories of tragedy and human emotion. He has presented at numerous national and regional conferences. 

Emma Gilliam teaches on the MA/postgraduate diploma in journalism as well as the BA in Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies. She's been at Cardiff University's Centre for Journalism for almost four years, and before that worked for almost two decades in BBC newsrooms across England's local radio network as a reporter, producer, presenter, news and programmes editor. Gilliam has also worked for BBC World Service Trust as a journalism trainer and project director. She's trained hundreds of journalists and programme makers in Ghana, Somalia, Somaliland, Russia, Burma, Thailand and India and developed projects focusing on media communication for development. A graduate of the Cardiff postgraduate journalism scheme herself, Gilliam has used her journalism skills across radio, television and community-based interactive programming. 

Andrea Miller serves as Journalism Area Head and Co-Rector of the Mass Communication Residential College, and teaches broadcast and multi-media journalism. Prior to joining the Manship School’s faculty, Miller received her PhD from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism. Additionally, Miller was an award-winning television news producer for a decade.  While serving at a station in Dallas, Miller developed an interest in breaking news and crisis coverage that has translated into an academic research stream and her current work on a book that explores media lessons from the Gulf Coast’s dual disasters: Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. In 2009, Miller was a member of an interdisciplinary team that received a Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium Coastal Storms Program grant to study effective hurricane communication. In fall 2011, Miller will teach a crisis communication graduate class and is excited about the opportunity the fellowship holds for its success. a  

Orayb Najjar teaches courses in international journalism, digital photography and magazine design. Her research areas center on online media law in the Middle East and on political cartoons as a form of visual communication. Her latest publication asks “what do the images of Abu Ghraib ‘want from us’?” Early in her career, she covered faculty and student activities for Birzeit University's newsletter in the occupied West Bank before the West Bank erupted in rebellion. This was her first experience in covering news and photographing people under occupation. She has been interested in conflict reporting since then. The Feb. 14, 2008, shooting of students at NIU took place right above the photography lab in which she teaches, and in March 2011, one of her students, football player Devon Butler, was shot outside campus. “If there is a time for learning more about trauma reporting, this is it,” Najjar says.

Sarah Niblock is Head of Journalism and Reader in Journalism at Brunel University, London, UK. She founded her department in 2006 after working at some of the most prestigious journalism departments in the UK. Now two of her department’s programmes are accredited by the National Council for the Training of Journalists as a hallmark of their quality. Niblock’s journalism career began on the Birkenhead News in 1987, where she reported on the Hillsborough disaster in which 96 football fans lost their lives. She then worked for the Liverpool Echo, covering stories of national significance such as the killing of toddler James Bulger by two 10-year-olds. Sarah has a PhD in psychoanalysis and visual culture, and has written numerous single and co-authored books, papers and chapters on journalism, media and popular culture.

Katherine Reed joined the journalism faculty at the Columbia Missourian after a five-year stint in Prague, Czech Republic, where she was the editor-in-chief of Prague Business Journal and an instructor at the Center for Independent Journalism. She taught news writing and reporting at Hollins University in Roanoke, Va., where she also worked as a copy editor and film/theater reviewer for the Roanoke Times. Reed received a master's degree in English and creative writing from Hollins University in Roanoke, Va., in 1991 and a bachelor's degree in journalism (news-editorial) from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1982. 

Andrew Skerritt is an assistant professor of journalism and adviser to The Famuan student newspaper. Before joining SJGC, he worked as a newspaper columnist, editor and reporter for two decades, most recently with the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times. He also worked at the Rock Hill (South Carolina) Herald, the Asbury Park (New Jersey) Press and Gannett Westchester (New York) Newspapers. He is an award-winning short-fiction writer; his essays and columns have appeared in newspapers all over the country. Skerritt has a bachelor's in journalism from Howard University and master's in liberal arts from Winthrop University.

Doug Underwood is Professor of Communication at the University of Washington and the author of four books, including his latest, "Chronicling Trauma: Journalists and Writers on Violence and Loss," which is forthcoming from the University of Illinois Press. Underwood has taught two journalism classes with trauma as their focus: “Trauma, News, and Narrative,” which analyzes the role that traumatic stories and life events have played in the writing careers of prominent literary figures, and a narrative journalism class in which students often incorporate themes of trauma into their writing. Underwood joined the UW communication faculty in 1987 after a 13-year career as a political journalist and investigative reporter. He was the state capital bureau chief and the chief political writer for the Seattle Times; a congressional correspondent and environmental specialist in the Gannett News Service’s Washington, D.C. bureau; and a labor and government reporter for the Lansing (Mich.) State Journal. 

Alexandra Wake has been a journalist for 25 years. Initially trained in print, she now boasts a career spanning radio, television and on-line. Wake has worked in Ireland, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, as well as Australia. Alex worked for three newspapers: The Rockhampton Morning Bulletin, the Mackay Mercury and The Star (Ireland), and for the ABC in Queensland. She has trained working journalists at the South African Broadcasting Corporation, worked as a journalism educator at Dubai Women’s College in the United Arab Emirates and served as a senior media advisor for a Queensland government minister. Alex still works as a freelance editor and news reader at Radio Australia (the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s international broadcaster). Her research interests include journalism education, journalism’s role within various cultures, and media portrayal of multicultural and indigenous groups. Her current teaching responsibilities include: Journalism: An Introduction; Radio Journalism; Broadcast Journalism: Radio; Advanced Print Reporting and Feature Writing.  

Amy Schmitz Weiss received her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in 2008. A former journalist who has been involved in new media for more than a decade, Schmitz Weiss also has worked in business development, marketing analysis, and account management for several Chicago Internet media firms. Her research interests include online journalism, media  sociology, news production, and international communication. She has presented her research at several national and international conferences. Recent publications include several peer-reviewed journal articles, chapters in journalism textbooks, and a co-authored book published in December 2007. 

She is presently researching the role of collaborative processes in newsrooms in the United States and abroad. Schmitz Weiss is also investigating the importance and benefits of virtual worlds and online distance education as a pedagogical tool for training journalists and journalism students to cover news events such as crises and natural disasters.