The John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships will welcome seven journalism leaders from Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America to Stanford University to be part of the JSK Class of 2023-24.
Beginning in September, these JSK Fellows will pursue a range of innovative ideas that seek to champion press freedom in a world where journalists and independent media are increasingly under attack.
This is the second year that JSK will focus its international fellowships on supporting journalists who want to work on ideas that respond to threats to independent reporting, some from countries where it is dangerous to be a journalist. These threats run the gamut from imprisonment and physical danger, to intimidation, financial pressure and government censorship. They also include disinformation campaigns that fuel hostility toward journalists, often resulting in dangerous misinformation for its citizens.
“We believe the growing level of hostility to journalists by repressive regimes and the deterioration of press freedom across the globe are challenges that need the focus and attention of the JSK Fellowships and this group of talented international journalists to work toward solutions.”Dawn Garcia, JSK director
The next JSK Fellowships class will include journalists from Afghanistan, Austria, Czechia, Georgia, Mexico, the Netherlands and Nigeria.
Before coming to Stanford, these journalists have begun projects to fight misinformation in Nigeria; helped finish the investigative stories of a murdered colleague in Slovakia and sought to improve media coverage of gender violence in Mexico. One led a team using pioneering open source reporting methods for investigations, including the assassination of a journalist in Palestine and murders of civilians in Ukraine. One journalist was forced to flee the Taliban, helping employees of his women’s news agency come to the U.S., where he has continued to run his organization in exile. Another created a news organization in Georgia to cover misinformation and global networks that are being built by authoritarians. A digital journalist from Austria reported on the collapse of the former Austrian government, which had planned to strictly reduce the financial and journalistic independence of Austrian media.
Throughout their 10 months at Stanford, the fellows will connect with Stanford resources and experts, participate in tailored workshops, individual coaching and peer-to-peer learning to grow as effective change agents and leaders, to seek solutions to the most urgent problems facing journalism.
“We are eager to bring these terrific journalists to Stanford and have them make use of the vast resources available at one of the world’s top universities,” Garcia said. “Their work could not be more urgent or needed.”
These seven international fellows will join a thriving JSK community. More than 1,000 people from more than 80 countries have participated in journalism fellowships at Stanford since the program first began in 1966.
JSK will be announcing the 2023-24 U.S. Fellows in early May.
International fellows, JSK Class of 2023-2024
Hannah Ajakaiye leads FactsMatterNG, an initiative of the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) that promotes information integrity by making facts go viral. The project uses humor, eye-catching videos and graphics to share the truth in a way that is as compelling as the fake news that can spread like wildfire on social media. In this role as an ICFJ Knight Fellow, Ajakaiye works with four newsroom partners to strengthen their fact-checking desks, leading training sessions on the production of social media videos and marketing techniques to extend the reach of fact checks. In 2019, as an ICFJ TruthBuzz Fellow she worked with Africa Check, an independent fact-checking organization. She also collaborated with reporters from Daily Trust, a prominent newspaper with wide reach in northern Nigeria. A native of Nigeria, Ajakaiye is an award-winning journalist and data enthusiast with a passion for development and social justice issues.
Natalia Antelava is a co-founder and editor-in-chief of Coda Story, an award-winning newsroom that covers the roots of global crises. She is the author of Coda’s weekly Disinfo Matters newsletter and is the host of Undercurrents: Tech, Tyrants and Us, a narrative podcast created in collaboration with Audible. Originally from Tbilisi, Antelava has been a BBC correspondent in the Caucasus, Central Asia, Middle East, Washington DC and India. She has covered the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008, the wars in Iraq and in Eastern Ukraine and reported undercover from Burma, Yemen and Uzbekistan. Her investigations into human rights abuses in Central Asia, Iraq and the United States have won her a number of awards. In addition to a career in broadcast journalism, Antelava has written for the Guardian, Forbes magazine and the New Yorker.
Karla Casillas Bermúdez is an independent investigative journalist currently working with the Mexican production company Mezcla where she is head of research for three upcoming documentaries on Netflix. She also did research for the Ariel Award winning documentary The Three Deaths of Marisela Escobedo, also on Netflix. Casillas has a special interest in changing narratives applying a gender perspective. Between 2020 and 2021, she was appointed coordinator for the Urgent Manual for the Coverage of Gender Violence and Femicide in Mexico. This project, led by United Nations Women, seeks to change the media narrative on violence against women and girls, as well as femicides. Previously, Casillas was the Madrid correspondent for El Financiero, she also coordinated the investigation unit at the Mexican newspaper El Universal and was the editor-in-chief of the VICE News en Español bureau in Mexico City.
Pavla Holcová is an investigative journalist and founder of the independent outlet investigace.cz, a member center of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. She is also OCCRP’s editor for Central Europe. Holcová has contributed to major cross-border projects such as the Panama Papers, the Russian and Azerbaijani Laundromats, the Pegasus Project, the Pandora Papers, and the Russian Asset Tracker. Together with her colleague Ján Kuciak, she exposed ties between the Slovak government and Italian mafia. After Kuciak was murdered, Holcová helped finish his stories, investigate the murder, and with her team, unravel one of the European Union’s most jaw-dropping corruption scandals, implicating senior judges and police figures and eventually bringing down a government. Holcová is the winner of the ICFJ Knight International Journalism Award, the World Justice Project’s Anthony Lewis Prize Award and the Allard Prize for International Integrity.
Faisal Karimi is the founder and director of the Afghanistan Institute for Research and Media Studies, which includes Afghanistan Women’s News Agency, a multimedia news platform to cover women’s issues in that country, and Kaashi Media. He is the founder and editor-in-chief of both of those organizations. In 2021, after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and increasing threats to journalists, Karimi helped employees of his women’s news agency — a team of female journalists and producers — escape to the U.S. He continues to run his organization in exile, reflecting the voices of Afghan women and providing much needed information and news to people in Afghanistan. Currently, Karimi is also a journalism visiting scholar at San José State University; he is conducting research on journalism under Taliban rule. Prior to the Taliban takeover, he also taught in the School of Journalism and Communication at his alma mater Herat University in western Afghanistan.
Eoghan Macguire is the lead editor of the open source investigative site, Bellingcat. He leads a team of editors and social media producers, while also working with dozens of investigators to bring stories of significant public interest around the world to light. He and his colleagues oversaw Bellingcat’s award winning investigations into the poisoning of Alexei Navalny by a state-backed assassination team, the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh by IDF forces and long-term editorial projects monitoring incidents of civilian harm during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. During his tenure, Bellingcat has almost doubled its annual readership and more than doubled its social media following while continuing to produce hard hitting investigations that pioneer new methods of open source reporting. Previously he worked at CNN and NBC News as a reporter, feature writer and editor.
Patrick Swanson is a digital journalist working as head of social media for Zeit im Bild (Time in Pictures), part of Austrian Public Broadcasting ORF. He is responsible for the largest news pages on social media in Austria with a total combined audience of 2.3 million users on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. In his work, Swanson focuses on reimagining online journalism and digital storytelling for young audiences. In 2019, Swanson and three of his colleagues won the Walther Rode Prize, one of the most prestigious awards in Austrian journalism, for their coverage of the Ibiza scandal. The scandal led to the collapse of the former Austrian government, which had planned to massively reduce the financial and journalistic independence of Austrian Public Broadcasting and other media outlets in the country.