The W.K. Kellogg Foundation has awarded the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) a $400,000 grant to partially fund a new criminal justice reporting project. This three-year special reporting series will focus on producing multimedia content on criminal and juvenile justice issues affecting communities of color. The project is scheduled to launch first in the state of New Mexico.

AAJA will partner with the National Council on Crime & Delinquency (NCCD) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) to train journalists, with an emphasis on journalists of color, in strong investigative skills and increased knowledge of criminal and juvenile justice issues. The project also hopes to partner with local media to enhance current state coverage of juvenile and criminal justice issues.

This special reporting project will bridge the gap between the lack of substantive media coverage of these issues and the opportunity for positive change. By educating and training journalists on criminal and juvenile justice systems and on better techniques for covering these topics as they relate to communities of color, AAJA aims to ignite quality media coverage in those areas to support systemic change and ensure authentic stories are included in coverage. In addition, the cohort of journalists trained by this project will be able to disseminate these strategies into future jobs in newsrooms across the country.

“AAJA is a trusted and respected leader among journalist associations for developing journalists of all backgrounds to most effectively report on the issues affecting communities of color,” said AJ Jones, Chief Policy and Communications Officer at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. “We are eager to see how this project will help tell the stories of children of color and their families more fully and authentically, as they are often disproportionately impacted by incarceration and the criminal justice system.”

“The media exerts tremendous influence and power in shaping public perception and understanding of critical social issues,” said Kathy Park, Chief Executive Officer of NCCD. “With this influence comes great opportunity to drive the direction of social change and ignite the types of conversations and questioning that lead to effective policy reform. NCCD is honored to be part of this unique collaborative partnership that will develop a well-trained cohort of journalists who are knowledgeable about criminal and juvenile justice issues and have access to diverse sources who can support balanced, thoughtful, impact-focused reporting in geographic areas where journalistic expertise on these issues may be under-developed.”

“IRE is honored and excited to be part of this project,” Executive Director Mark Horvit said. “We look forward to working with a committed group of journalists and helping to add to the work already being done in New Mexico to explore this vitally important topic.”

Journalists will broaden their sourcing and learn how to more effectively develop sources for stories in diverse communities, strategies which they will be able to disseminate to newsrooms around the country. “We are pleased to partner with Investigative Reporters and Editors, NCCD and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to diversify and innovate reporting on criminal justice issues,” said AAJA National President Paul Cheung.” The grant will further our joint mission to develop minority journalists who are skilled in investigative reporting as well as reimagine criminal justice reporting from the ground up.” 



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