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Northwestern Launches a Social Justice News Collective

Medill student and community fellows look at impact of drugs on Chicago

EVANSTON, Ill. --- A Palestinian film maker, a Puerto Rican actor, a Venezuelan broadcast reporter and a long-time editor of a journal written by Chicago public housing residents are all part of a new and experimental social justice reporting program at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications.

Launched in January and funded by a two-year grant from the McCormick Foundation, the innovative initiative -- the Social Justice News Nexus -- brings together the talents of community reporters and Medill faculty and graduate students to focus on critical issues facing Chicago neighborhoods. For a fuller story, visit the foundation’s blog.

For six months, the inaugural News Nexus class of 14 community fellows and eight Medill graduate student fellows are researching and reporting on the myriad ways that drug abuse and drug policies impact Chicago’s neighborhoods. At the end of spring quarter, they will have created a package of stories -- in print, video and other platforms -- that will appear in media outlets throughout the Chicago area.

Adriana Cardona Maguigad, who edits a Chicago community newspaper, is using her fellowship to report on local rehabilitation centers, neighborhood drug users and the illegal drug market. She says the community fellowship will allow her to bring to light stories about Chicagoans victimized by an illegal drug industry in Chicago’s Back of the Yards and other neighborhoods.

Medill Professor Jack Doppelt, principal investigator of the initiative, views the News Nexus as an opportunity to generate public dialogue and debate on crucial issues and contribute to social change. Medill faculty Louise Kiernan and Kari Lydersen are fellowship directors. Winnie Wang is News Nexus coordinator.
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