Names in the news

Two top journalists are in the news, and I have very minor connections to them and wanted to reflect their important work.

Nikole Hannah-Jones is an award-winning journalist whose reporting on racial injustice has been an important contribution—and driver—for our nation’s continued conversation about what we need to understand about slavery and racism and injustice. She created the 1619 Project and received the Pulitzer Prize for commentary. Earlier this year, the journalism school at UNC hired Nikole for a Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism, but the university’s board of trustees refused to award her tenure. That’s wrong, and it’s been the topic of the news for the last couple of months; for example, the latest coverage from NPR is this by David Folkenflik.

I met Nikole at UNC; we were both Roy H. Park Fellows at the j-school, and she earned her masters degree in 2003, a year ahead me. I’m in awe of what she’s accomplished, and I’m angry that UNC won’t allow its journalism students to be taught and mentored by her.

Ed Yong, a supremely talented science journalist, is the recipient of the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting. His articles in The Atlantic about COVID-19—and pandemic preparations even before we knew about COVID-19—have been great reads full of insights and clear explanations. Ed definitely deserves that prize.

I met Ed in 2010 when he attended ScienceOnline2010. Here’s his recap (as he headed home to England sick with whatever virus burned through our attendees that year).

I’m now seven months into my new position as clinical research communications specialist at the Duke Clinical Research Institute. It’s an engaging job, and I’m enjoying it, and yet I miss writing narrative features, so I’ve made a story pitch to a magazine for a profile of a Duke-trained marine scientist on St. Croix protecting the endangered sea turtles. (Here’s my post and photo from Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge last month.) I’m definitely not in their league, but Nikole and Ed inspire me to strive to make a difference through reporting and writing.



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