Meet the 2018 SFJ Diversity Fellows: Brittany Britto & Janelle Harris

The Society for Features Journalism is happy to announce that Brittany Britto, @brittanybritto, and Janelle Harris, @thegirlcanwrite, are the 2018 Penny Bender Fuchs Diversity Fellows! They will be joining us at our conference Sept. 12-15 in New Orleans (which you should also register for now!).

Here are some more things to know about them.

Brittany Britto


Brittany Britto is a general assignment features reporter and blogger for The Baltimore Sun, where she writes about culture, the arts, entertainment and viral news.

A proud Terp twice over, Brittany graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park, with a bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in creative writing, and a master’s in journalism from the Philip Merrill College of Journalism.

In her downtime, Brittany enjoys spending time with loved ones, hanging with the locals in foreign destinations, trying new foods, crying during episodes of “This is Us,” and hoarding various sized notebooks and journals.

Q: Tell us about your current work.

I am a general assignment features reporter at The Baltimore Sun, where I report on local arts, entertainment, and my favorite topic — culture.

Q: What’s your favorite story or project you’ve ever worked on and why?

Working on the Baltimore Club Dance story turned into a fun, collaborative project that allowed me to work with Baltimore Sun photographers, editors and a talented interactive designer to take the written story to an experiential level with gifs, video, and a special layout. I also curated a playlist with the help of some of the Baltimore Club scene’s most pivotal figures and learned some dance moves along the way (TBD on my “crazy leg”). But most of all, I got to see why Baltimore is so proud and passionate about their culture. It also led to at least one other story, which we’ll release this summer.

Q: Most memorable person you’ve ever interviewed?

I interviewed Ta-Nehisi Coates about which part of Baltimore he misses the most. It was pretty cool getting to talk to a storyteller who has had an impact on the city.

Q: Advice you would give to an aspiring features journalist?

The best advice I have for aspiring features journalists is to say “yes” and tackle as many stories as you possibly can early on. In my time as a reporter, I’ve been thrown into so many different stories on topics I know little about, which has taught me how to be more versatile and make stories more engaging. It has also allowed me to hone in on what I like to write about, which is the cultural expression and histories of marginalized communities.

I’d also say, don’t be afraid to spend time with sources, especially in-person. With deadlines, it can be hard to really take your time with certain interviews, but often, when it comes to features writing, I find putting in a little extra time allows a writer to paint a better picture for their readers (and sometimes, it earns the respect of the subject and puts them at ease).

Q: Favorite guilty pleasure reads/social media feeds?
Overall, Twitter is probably my guiltiest pleasure. My timeline allows me to follow a bunch of different outlets and personalities to make sure I’m getting a mix of coverage, opinions and insight on what’s happening. “Moments” has also been a decent tool when checking social media’s temperature for the day. A not-so-guilty pleasure is O Magazine. It’s the perfect way to put my day on pause for a bit and get some much-needed positivity. And … Oprah, amirite?

Q: What book is on your nightstand right now?

“The Comfort Food Diaries,” by former New Yorker editor Emily Nunn. I love stories about family, food, travel and transformation, and so far, Nunn’s book has been a nice blend of all four. Plus, she includes recipes, so you can try your hand at what she’s making in the book.

Q: Because we love recommendations, what are some of your favorite restaurants—from hole-in-the-wall to let’s-dress-up-and-go-out kind of dining—in your town?

When looking for some good Italian food and the best happy hour in Baltimore, my coworkers and I visit La Scala Ristorante, which boasts $7 bowls of homemade pasta and decadent espresso martinis. They also have bocce ball, which makes for a fun activity while waiting for your food or post-meal. If sharing and sampling is your thing, visit La Cuchara, a Basque restaurant, which has some pinxtos and other small plates, delicious cava, and mouthwatering churros.

Brunch at Blue Moon Cafe is bound to fill you up and excite your taste buds, with Cap’n Crunch french toast, a Frito pie french toast, and the “Sweet Baby Jesus,” a heap of hash browns, crab meat, eggs and hollandaise sauce, topped with Old Bay (Warning: might need help walking out of the restaurant after this).

If you’re not afraid to get a little dirty and dig in hands first, crack open some crabs and indulge in seafood at LP Steamers.

And don’t forget Baltimore’s carryout staples. Sunny’s Subs has one of the best chicken boxes in the city and also serves lake trout—a fried fish sandwich that has nothing to do with a lake, or trout, for that matter. Wash it all down with a half-and-half, a sugary mix of sweet tea and lemonade. I’ve learned, it’s the Baltimore way.

Q: Last song you sang out loud.

“What’s My Name” by Rihanna featuring Drake (at the gym!)

Q: Favorite quote.

“Your work is to discover your world, and then, with all your heart, give yourself to it.” — Unknown

Janelle Harris

JanelleHarris2016 (1) (1)

A writer since she won a crisp dollar bill in an elementary school essay contest, Janelle uses her platform as a storyteller to explore the experiences, challenges and diversities of women and people of color, particularly Black folks, who she loves fiercely.

As a journalist, her work covers race, class, gender and culture and has appeared in more than 40 print and digital publications.

As an editor, copywriter and communications consultant, she has shaped content that reframes played out narratives and equitably represents communities undervoiced in mainstream media. She believes in the magic of stilettos, cookies and cream milkshakes, and saying “hi” to strangers on the street.


Q: Tell us about your current work.

I’m in a space where I want to try new things. I want do some documentary work. I want to learn photography. I want to launch a podcast. I want to write longer, feature-length articles.

Right now, I’m working on a series of stories that lift up the voices of poor people. I think they’re talked about, but not necessarily talked to, so I’m shopping some pieces about the realness of poverty, like the psychological effects of gentrification, for example.

Q: What’s your favorite story or project you’ve ever worked on and why?

I traveled to Alaska to interview a Native community in Anchorage about a rites of passage program and ceremony for teenage boys. In addition to learning about a culture so different and far away from my own, the beauty of nature was breathtaking. The people were super friendly and I loved their community-centeredness, putting family and honor over anything external.

I interviewed an elderly couple — he was 92, she was 86, I think — who made feathered fans for the boys to use in the ceremony celebrating their transition into manhood. It was my first time using a translator for to ask questions and they were all incredibly patient with me. It was such a dope experience.

Q: Most memorable person you’ve ever interviewed?

I have a bucket list of folks I really want to meet and most of them are older, so I tracked down Gloria Richardson — civil rights legend, white privilege eviscerator, fearless bayonet pusher — and interviewed her in March this year. She’s 96 and still remembers the details of her protests and negotiations so clearly, it’s amazing.

I can’t remember what I did yesterday but she can recall with clarity a conversation she had with Malcolm X 50 years ago. I’ll never forget it.

Q: Advice you would give to an aspiring features journalist?

Create systems to help streamline the un-sexy parts of writing: transcribing interviews, fact-checking, following up with sources. When I started outsourcing my transcriptions and doing checklists for my facts, I had more time to focus on the thinking and writing, which is what I want to be doing anyway.

Q: Favorite guilty pleasure reads/social media feeds?

I love Red Table Talks with Jada Pinkett Smith on Facebook and my short attention span lets me stay on the treadmill if I’m watching a Broadly or Refinery29 mini-documentary on YouTube.

Q: What book is on your nightstand right now?

“Barracoon,” by Zora Neale Hurston

Q: Because we love recommendations, what are some of your favorite restaurants — from hole-in-the-wall to let’s-dress-up-and-go-out kind of dining — in your town?

For casual sit-down, the fried chicken at Langston Bar and Grille on H Street is so good. It’s tiny in there, but the people are friendly and you don’t feel the smallness of the space as much.

Henry’s Soul Café in Oxon Hill, just a few steps across the southeast DC border, has godly soul food. There are a few tables but I’d go on ahead and carry out.

The Hamilton on F Street in Northwest is get-dressed-and-go-out nice, but their chicken wings and mumbo sauce is the best in the city, in my opinion.

The Monocle on D Street NE by Union Station has amazing steaks and the best darn house breads I’ve ever tasted. You actually feel sad when the bread basket is empty. And a lot of politicians and chichi uppity folks eat there, so you might catch a whiff of gossip while you’re eating, which is cool if you’re interested.

Q: Last song you sang out loud,

“For the Love of You” by the Isley Brothers (loud AND off-key)

Q: Favorite quote

It’s not an absolute favorite, but it’s one of them: “The man who can murder on the printed page can do so time and time again and need not fear jail or death.”
—Addison Gayle, Jr.

Of course, I would change that to “man” to “woman.”


SFJ diversity fellowship seeks journalists of color to join us in New Orleans

SFJ diversity fellowship seeks journalists of color to join us in New Orleans


Are you a journalist of color interested in features writing? Do you know someone who is?

The Society for Features Journalism is again sponsoring the Penny Bender Fuchs Diversity Fellowship Program for U.S. journalists of color in conjunction with its annual conference, which this year is in New Orleans.

Diversity Fellows will learn what’s happening in features departments nationwide while networking with outstanding journalists specializing in lifestyle, culture and entertainment coverage.

Fellowships cover SFJ conference registration, airfare within the U.S. and hotel. Fellows also will be reimbursed for expenses toward baggage and transportation.

What’s required?

RESUME + ESSAY: A resume and single-page essay explaining what you love about your job and how you have distinguished yourself in arts and/or features coverage.

PHOTO: A photo of yourself for the conference program and SFJ website.

LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION: One letter from someone who can talk about your work.

› For writers, three storytelling examples.
› For editors, three samples of sections you edited with comments on how stories were generated or edited.
› For copy editors, three headlines with attached stories, plus two stories with editing comments.
› For designers, three samples of layouts.
› For journalists with online-only work, list website links in your application letter.

Deadline for applying is May 25.

Selections will be announced by June 10. Email applications, with attached PDFs, to Jeneé Osterheldt at

See poster for details!


Meet SFJ diversity fellows Michelle Zenarosa of Everyday Feminism, Rashod Ollison of Virginian-Pilot

Michelle Zenarosa


Michelle is a media-maker, storyteller, and new mom based in Los Angeles. With over a decade of experience in the industry, Michelle currently serves as the managing editor for the online magazines Everyday Feminism and the newly launched Woke.

She was formerly an editor at Fusion Media and New America Media, as well as a producer for the PBS featured docu-series, “Maria Hinojosa’s America By The Numbers.”

She received her bachelor’s degree in journalism at California State University, Long Beach, and her master’s in public affairs journalism at University of Maryland, College Park, where she served as the Howard Simons fellow for the Washington Post.

Twitter (and Instagram) handle: @zenagrossa

Q: Tell us about your current work.

A: I am currently the managing editor for two publications. The first, Everyday Feminism, is one of the world’s most popular feminist digital media sites in the world with millions of viewers across 140 countries. Everyday Feminism has been known for its unique, inside-out approach to applied intersectional feminism.

The second, Woke, is an upcoming digital media company and creative agency that features content that creates spaces for underrepresented communities to showcase stories that speak to their authentic lives. We connect tech-savvy, multi-cultural Millennials to content on identity and culture shift and are set to launch in August.

In my over 15 years of working in the journalism industry, I’m proud to say that while my storytelling has taken on many different iterations, my commitment has always stayed the same: to tell stories that amplify voices that are not often heard in mainstream media.

Q: What’s your favorite story or project you’ve ever worked on and why?

A: My favorite project I’ve worked on is running a local youth media organization called VoiceWaves. Under my helm, I was able to grow a six-person blog to a vibrant community media organization with a multimedia website and print newspaper that was translated into 16 different languages with hundreds of youth reporters producing content about their communities.

Q: Most memorable person you’ve ever interviewed?

A: I was once lucky enough to interview the dynamic legendary journalist Helen Thomas at a conference once 10 years ago. I hadn’t known much about her until I was assigned to interview her, but of course, when I talked to her, she delivered.

In a climate when journalists weren’t asking hard-hitting questions she told me, a young journalist just forming my path, not only to not be afraid to be a bold objector to injustice, but that it was my duty as reporter. At 87 years old, her example and brash attitude inspired my then 23-year-old self to trust my gut and to never compromise my beliefs.

Q: Advice you would give to an aspiring features journalist/student?

A: Keep at it. The ever-changing media industry is getting more difficult to survive in as a journalist. Instead of aspiring to work at legacy institutions with some job security, journalism has sort of become like a gig economy where freelancing and short contract jobs have become the norm. But if you keep going, even at the hardest times, I truly believe that you’ll find that gold at the end of the rainbow. Even if it means that gold will look like cultural shifts instead of actual, literal money.

I truly believe that if we provide what the world is calling upon to offer and we do that well, we can financially sustain ourselves.

Q:  We all read serious journalism! But what are some of your favorite fun/guilty pleasure reads/social media feeds?

A: I religiously follow Wendy Williams and 105.1 The Breakfast Club. And I have no guilt whatsoever about it, but Teen Vogue is killing it and is serious journalism.

Q: What book is on your nightstand right now?

A: Roxane Gay’s “Hunger.”

Q: Because we love recommendations, what are some of your favorite restaurants — from hole-in- the-wall to let’s-dress- up-and- go-out kind of dining — in your town?

Thai food is my favorite food and here in L.A., we have the best of it. For cheap street food eats, I go to the late night spot, Sanamluang Cafe. I’ve been going there for years and it’s open till 4 a.m. The garlic pepper tofu over rice with a fried egg is life.

For mid-priced Thai, it’s all about Wat Dong Moon Lek. The place has grown, and the clientele has become more transplant-y thanks to the cute pop culture art and attractive Thai waiters, but the food is damn good. Get anything on the menu and don’t second-guess getting a slushy. They always do you right.

For (modern) fine dining, make a reservation at Night+Market. One order of the “ice cream sandwich,” which is condensed milk ice cream sandwiched between grilled sweet bread and fried mung beans on top, won’t be enough. I guarantee you’ll at least need to order two. Other standouts are the crab fried rice and the oxtail. The food is unforgettable.

Rashod Ollison


Rashod is an award-winning culture critic and author from Little Rock, Ark. He’s currently the staff culture critic and entertainment writer for the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va. He’s also been a staff critic at the Baltimore Sun, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Dallas Morning News, and the Journal News in Westchester, N.Y. His literary debut, “Soul Serenade: Rhythm, Blues; Coming of Age Through Vinyl,” was published in 2016.

Facebook: Rashod Ollison
Twitter: @rashodollison
Instagram: @rashodollison

Q: Tell us about your current work.

A: I’m the culture critic and entertainment writer at the Virginian-Pilot. I average about three to four pieces a week, from critical essays to longer narrative stories for the Pilot’s Sunday Magazine.

My literary debut, “Soul Serenade: Rhythm, Blues; Coming of Age Through Vinyl,” was published in January 2016 by Beacon Press/Penguin Random House. Critically well-received, it was released in paperback last January.

A memoir written like a novel that centers on my childhood in central Arkansas in the 1980s and early ’90s, the book blossomed from a piece I wrote for the Sunday Magazine. I’ve tentatively started another project, a novel about a mother and son imprisoned by their relationship.

Q: What’s your favorite story or project you’ve ever worked on and why?

A: Writing my book, something I did in an almost clandestine way, was rewarding creatively and, given the subject matter, emotionally. Three years ago at the Pilot, I wrote a serial project, “The 25 Greatest Musicians of Hampton Roads,” in which I contextualized the careers of famous and unsung musicians from various genres with roots in Virginia.

Q: Most memorable person you’ve ever interviewed?

A: Donna Summer. She was the first celebrity interview I was assigned when I started
out as a music critic intern about 20 years ago. I did what no reporter is supposed to do: I started the interview gushing over her and going on and on about how much I loved her music, being the totally obnoxious fan. But she was so nice and graciously steered me back to the matter at hand: the interview. Ten years later when I interviewed Summer again, I was very seasoned and knew what the hell I was doing.

She remembered our encounter a decade earlier, and, again, she was so kind and encouraging. She didn’t have to be, but she was.

Q: Advice you would give to an aspiring features journalist/student?

A: Read everything — features, poetry, novels, nonfiction, whatever. Study well-written pieces and take them apart, analyzing what makes them work, and fold some of those techniques into your own writing.

Q: We all read serious journalism! But what are some of your favorite fun/guilty pleasure reads/social media feeds?

A: I read those inane Buzzfeed lists.

Q: What book is on your nightstand right now?

A: I have several because I’m forever behind on my reading. Currently on the nightstand: “Selected Poems” by Gwendolyn Brooks, “Home,” by Toni Morrison, and “Life on Mars,” by Tracy K. Smith.

Q: Because we love recommendations, what are some of your favorite restaurants — from hole-in- the-wall to let’s-dress-up-and-go-out kind of dining — in your town?

A: I don’t dine out too often in Hampton Roads, Va., because the area, basically seven sprawling suburbs connected by bridges and tunnels, is overcrowded with way too many chain restaurants. I do a lot of cooking at home, but there’s a great Chinese joint, MeiZhen, up the street from my place. I’m in there so much they know my face and know my order before I even place it.

2017 SFJ conference schedule: Success Stories

sfj17 banner

REGISTER TODAY! $125 for college students; $350 for members; $450 for non-members!



4-5:15 P.M. | SFJ board meeting
The Star’s Press Pavilion, 1601 McGee St.
Board and committee chairs gather to discuss last-minute details about the conference and begin planning for next year.

6-9 p.m. Opening reception at the hotel
Brookside Room at the Westin Kansas City at Crown Center, 1 E. Pershing Road
Come meet your fellow features creatures, register for the conference and relax.

THURSDAY, Sept. 28

Location: The Star’s Press Pavilion, 1601 McGee St.

8-9 a.m.: Shuttle service from hotel to Press Pavilion. Continental breakfast and registration at the Pavilion.

9-10 a.m.: Robb Armstrong of “Jump Start (an Andrews McMeel syndicate) will tell us how he went from a college student at Syracuse University with a comic strip to becoming a nationally syndicated cartoonist. He’s also written a memoir, Fearless: A Cartoonist’s Guide to Life.”

10-11:15 a.m.: Digital tools you shouldn’t live without, by Jennifer Brett of Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Topics she’ll cover include:

  • How to repurpose user-generated content from Facebook without an embed code. (once you have secured the content creator’s permission, of course)

  • How to use geo curation to enhance social searches

  • How to repurpose ephemeral Snapchat or Instagram Stories

  • How to create engaging social pushes to promote your content using a combination of apps

  • Facebook Live tips

11:15-11:30 a.m.: Break.

11:30 a.m. to noon: Visit KC, KC’s tourism bureau, welcomes us. 

Noon-1:30 p.m.: Awards luncheon. 

1:30-2 p.m.: Break

2-3 p.m.: SFJ winners tell all.
They’ve received their awards – now hear about their work. Jim Haag, a contest coordinator and retired Virginian-Pilot features editor, will lead a panel discussion with Rashod Ollison of The Virginian-Pilot, Jeneé Osterheldt of The Kansas City Star and Christopher Wynn of The Dallas Morning News.

3-4 p.m.: Show & Steal. Sharon Chapman and Laura Coffey.
One of the most popular segments of the conference, editors share their best ideas from the year past for anyone to steal.

4-5 p.m.: Shuttle service back to hotel.

5:30-6:30 p.m.: Shuttle service to Andrews McMeel from hotel lobby.

6-9 p.m.: Silent Auction at Andrews McMeel, 1130 Walnut St.
If you have “Doonesbury,” “For Better For Worse” or “Phoebe the Unicorn” in your paper, then you’re an Andrews McMeel client. The syndicate is hosting this year’s Silent Auction in its lovely art deco digs.

FRIDAY, Sept. 29

Location: The Star’s Press Pavilion

8-9 a.m.: Shuttle service from hotel to Press Pavilion. Continental breakfast 

9-10 a.m.: How to dive deep, author Candice Millard
Kansas City-based bestselling author and journalist Candice Millard has written three award-winning New York Times bestsellers: “The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey,” “Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine & the Murder of a President” (about James Garfield) and her latest, “Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape and the Making of Winston Churchill.” Candice will explain how she does her meticulous research and how she finds the story that no one else has told.

10-11:30 a.m.SPJ-Google News Lab Training: Google Tools Fundamentals with Abigail Edge
Freelance journalist Abigail Edge will give an overview of how Google’s tools can help you research stories, fact-check, find what’s trending, and locate useful datasets. The workshop will highlight: advanced Google Search techniques, Google Trends, Google Public Data Explorer, and more to ensure you’re covered on how to fully uncover things.

11:30-noon: Break

Noon-1 p.m.: Lunch + Diversity Fellows presentation
Grab a bite to eat while listening to our amazing Diversity Fellows, Rashod Ollison of The
Virginian-Pilot and Michelle Zenarosa of Everyday Feminism and Woke magazines.

1-2 p.m.: Facebook Live shows: How to do them, and do they make money?
The Kansas City Star has launched several regularly scheduled Facebook Live shows, some of which are sponsored. Here are some lessons The Star has learned, presented by Brittany Coale (digital sales manager), Rachel Crader (growth editor), Jill Silva (Chow Town Live host and barbecue writer) and Shelly Yang (video journalist).

2-3 p.m.: Atten-TION! with Jennifer Rowe of Missouri School of Journalism
Help your stories get noticed with exciting headlines and compelling leads. This session will provide tips for how to write attention-grabbing headlines and story leads with contemporary and classic examples from award-winning features. Learn how to sell your stories and start them off so that readers just can’t turn away.

3-4 p.m.: Lynden Steele: Life after the Pulitzer — how to find the story after the story
Lynden, assistant managing editor for photography at The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and his team won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography for its coverage of the protests in Ferguson. But the stories don’t end with journalism’s highest honor; Lynden will share how the newsroom followed up with even more award-winning coverage.

4-4:15 p.m.: Meet the future
We’ll introduce our student attendees.

4-4:15 p.m. | Changing of the guard
It’s a time-honored tradition: The current SFJ president, Kathy Lu, turns over the gavel – and a few other surprising pieces of clothing – to the incoming president, Jim Haag. Then, sadly, it’s time to wrap it up.

4:30-5:30 p.m. | SHUTTLE BACK TO HOTEL

Free evening. Students heading to Royals game. Meet at the lobby to board the bus.

SATURDAY, Sept. 30 (Campus connection)

This session is designed for our college participants. However, journalists who would like to volunteer to help provide feedback or network with the students are welcome.

Location: The Star’s Press Pavilion, 1601 McGee St.

8-9 A.M. | Shuttle service + hot breakfast 
Pick up shuttle at the hotel; breakfast

9 a.m. to noon: Network & feedback
Professional journalists — Jim Haag, Kathy Lu, Margaret Myers, Jeneé Osterheldt, Alice Short,  and Emily Spicer — will spend time with each student who wants feedback on various topics, including on resumes, clips and interview tips.

12:30-1:30 p.m.: SFJ board meeting, with lunch
The planning for next year begins now, as the new officers and committee members begin setting goals for 2018.


This tour is designed for any conference participant who wants to get to know a little bit about the city we’re meeting in.

10 A.M. | Depart hotel on bus

10:15-10:30 A.M. | Visit American Jazz Museum, 1616 E. 18th St.
Explore the museum’s history in the changing exhibit, “The Legacy Plays On,” which celebrates the museum’s 20th anniversary.

10:45-11:15 A.M. | Tour the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, 1616 E 18th St.
Video presentations and memorabilia chronicle the history and heroes of the leagues – from their origin after the Civil War to their demise in the 1960s.

11:20-11:50 A.M. | More time at AJM, 1616 E. 18th St.
Linger at the place that honors jazz masters such as Count Basie, Charlie Parker, Big Joe Turner and hundreds of others.

NOON-1 P.M. | Lunch at Gates-Bar-B-Q, 1221 Brooklyn Ave.
Enjoy a family-owned Kansas City tradition, cafeteria-style. Owner George Gates will offer a history of his place and KC’s role in the world of barbecue.

Apply now for our 2017 Diversity Fellowship!

Apply now for our 2017 Diversity Fellowship!

The Society for Features Journalism is committed to developing news-gathering staffs that are representative of the multicultural communities its members serve.

Toward this goal, SFJ is sponsoring the Penny Bender Fuchs Diversity Fellowship Program for journalists of color in conjunction with its annual conference, which this year is in Kansas City.

Programming will feature a heavy emphasis on storytelling and leadership, and Diversity Fellows will learn what’s happening in features departments nationwide while networking with outstanding journalists specializing in lifestyle and entertainment coverage.

Fellowships cover SFJ conference registration, airfare within the U.S. and hotel. Fellows also will be reimbursed for expenses toward baggage and transportation.

Deadline:   May 25, 2017

Application requirements: resume, essay, photo, letter of recommendation, work samples (see flyer below for more details)

Submit: Email applications with PDF attachments to Margaret Myers at

Questions: 202.266.7263

SFJ 2017 fellowship

Meet 2016 SFJ diversity fellows from Bradenton Herald, Washington Post, UT-Austin

We are excited to introduce our 2016 Penny Bender Fuchs Diversity Fellows! They each will receive an expense-paid trip to attend our annual conference, happening in Aug. 10-13 in Austin, Texas.

Get to know them a little here.

Jenny Abella, The Washington Post

AAJA VOICES 2014 mugs

Jenny Abella

Jennifer Abella has been a copy editor at The Washington Post since 2000, when she graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Currently the copy chief for Washington Post Magazine, she has held several positions at the paper, including features copy chief and deputy

copy chief of the universal news desk. In her spare time she is a pop culture junkie and Anglophile who blogs and manages social media for UNC’s annual Jane Austen Summer Program.


Q: Tell us about your current job.

I oversee copy editing and production for The Washington Post Magazine: I slot copy, oversee proofing, manage production deadlines, publish stories to the Web and compile our entertainment calendar.

Q: What are some of the favorites stories you covered?

We’ve done some great stories recently, including a mascot boot camp and an infographic about black superheroes going mainstream.

Q: How do you use social media?

I am on social media every day mostly for personal use, but also to support my volunteer work for the Jane Austen Summer Program in North Carolina. My work with JASP allows me to experiment —  on a small scale —  with concepts I’ve gleaned from working at The Post.

Q: Why is features journalism important to you?

I love learning about the personal angles of stories — not just policies or politics, but also the way they affect people’s lives.

Q: What is your favorite quote?

“I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.” – Jane Austen, “Pride and Prejudice”

It applies to anything you love, really — you don’t even feel it happening; it just happens.

Q: What kinds of media do you personally read for fun and news?

I am thoroughly addicted to Twitter, particularly news accounts that have a geeky/entertainment bent: The Mary Sue, Hitfix, IGN, Vulture, The Hollywood Reporter.

For fun, I read young adult literature as well as pop culture-centric nonfiction.

Q: What do you hope to get from SFJ conference?

I’d like to get back in touch with the roots of editing and working with writers to craft a strong narrative without losing the writer’s voice. I’m also really interested in the impact of social media on features stories. I’d love to learn more about crafting compelling social headlines for our content and how other publications enhance their long reads for the web in an age when readers have such short attention spans.

 Amaris Castillo, Bradenton Herald

Amaris Castillo Photo

Amaris Castillo

Amaris Castillo is a law enforcement/island reporter for the Bradenton Herald, where she has worked since 2014.

Castillo has a multimedia series called Bodega Stories, where she publishes stories and portraits of people who frequent her parents’ Latin market in Saint Petersburg, Fla. The project is her small way of preserving language and culture, which means a lot to her as a first-generation American.

Castillo was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., to Dominican parents and has a master’s from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and a bachelor’s from the University of South Florida.


Q: Tell us about your current job.

As the law enforcement/island reporter for the Bradenton Herald, I am regularly sent out to cover breaking news situations such as shootings, fires and crashes. I also report on Anna Maria Island, a 7-mile barrier island that’s filled with challenges related to tourism and all that it brings to residents and business owners. There are three cities on the island, so my job is to keep track of what’s going on in each city. As the night reporter at my newspaper, I’m also called on to cover general assignment stories that range from graduation ceremonies to animal rights protests.

Though law enforcement and the island are my primary beats, I am always searching for interesting feature stories, as well as stories on the immigrant experience — one of my interests.

Q: What are some of the favorite stories you covered?

One is a series on a Honduran boy who crossed the border to reunite with his parents in Bradenton and the challenges he now faces as he seeks asylum. Another story I enjoyed working on was the historic and absolutely bizarre election tie-breaker in Bradenton Beach between an ousted mayor and current-mayor/former- vice mayor — it was one of those “only in Florida” stories where I witnessed an election tie broken through a deck of cards.

Though interviewing people who are grieving after losing a loved one is extremely difficult, I feel it is an honor to tell their stories. Some of my favorite stories have been about grieving and loss; I wrote a story about a grieving mother who lost her daughter to a heroin overdose just days prior to our interview, and I also recently sat down with a local family who lost four relatives in the Ecuador earthquake. It means a lot to have people willing to speak to me despite their overwhelming grief — I do not take this lightly and always do my best to treat what they tell me with great care.

Q: How do you use social media?

I use social media to share my work, as well as the work of my colleagues and other journalists I admire.

I also use social media as a reporting tool; there have been times where these networks have helped me reach a new source. Thanks to Facebook and Twitter, I am able to dig and dig and dig until I am able to reach someone I need to speak to for a story.

Q: Why is features journalism important to you?

Features journalism is important to me because it stretches beyond the formulaic and cut-and-dried story. It allows journalists to expand and try to incorporate feeling and the essence of a source in the story — the exhausted eyes of a grieving mother, the nervous face of a graduate about to step onto the stage and receive his diploma. I am drawn to feature stories because they bring me in and make me feel as if I am a witness to what’s being done and what’s being said.

Features journalism not only informs the public, but it engages the public.

Q: What is your favorite quote?

“Nothing happens unless first we dream” by the late poet/writer Carl Sandburg.

Q: What kinds of media do you personally read for fun and news?

For news, I read the Bradenton Herald, Tampa Bay Times, The New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, NPR, to name a few. I also listen to NPR and different podcasts on my commute to and from work.

For fun, I enjoy watching Buzzfeed videos and I enjoy reading cultural sites such as Remezcla. I also really enjoy reading independent media like The Mash-Up Americans and La Galeria Magazine.

Q: What do you hope to get from SFJ conference?

I hope to leave the SFJ conference inspired, rejuvenated and with tools on how to become a better storyteller. My newspaper is smaller compared to other area newspapers, and so I hope to learn and soak in as much as I can to bring this knowledge back to my colleagues.

I look forward to meeting features editors from all over the U.S. and asking them what makes a great feature story to them personally — what are some do’s and, most importantly, what are some don’ts? I am so excited to be in the same space as others who are passionate about features journalism and look forward to productive discussions and workshops that will be both challenging and stimulating.

Emily Gibson, The University of Texas at Austin


Emily Gibson

I was born in Baltimore, Md., and grew up reading preteen tabloids such as Tiger Beat and J-14. Thankfully, my taste in magazines and journalism evolved, but my appetite for it didn’t.

I measure my lifetime in what blog or project I was writing at the time (my first “novel” was written when I was in grade school and was called Lobster Face, my first middle school blog was about music and was called CantBeatIt, I currently co-run a magazine, etc.)

When I got to high school, I took a newspaper course and that small taste of newsroom experience confirmed what I already knew: that I was going to give this journalism thing a shot.


Q: Tell us about your current job.

I currently intern for The Austin Chronicle, I am the communications assistant for the UT School of Biomedical Engineering and I run my own magazine, SMEAR Magazine, which published online and in print (we are currently working on our second print issue.)

Q: What are some of the favorites stories you covered?

I wrote a story about Texas’ first theatrical wrestling league run completely by female-identified people, which was a really awesome experience. I also worked on a story about the Austin Music Census citing a lack of gender diversity in the Austin scene, and how women musicians in Austin responded to that.

Most recently, I did a story about front man John Pelant from a band called Night Moves, which was a good experience because I had wanted to do a long form music feature for some time.

Q: How do you use social media?

I use social media to start conversations. Whether it is a joke status I post on Facebook or a questioning tweet about a policy or a news event, my main goal is always to get people talking and comfortable talking to each other. I think that, at its core, that is the purpose of social media: to be able to talk to people and bring people from different backgrounds and perspectives together.

Q: Why is features journalism important to you?

Features journalism is what attracted me to the field. Being able to meet people from different backgrounds and tell their stories seems like such an ideal job that I often have to remind myself that it is something I am really working toward. I think it’s important to use these platforms to tell stories that make people think – to represent the unrepresented voices and to provide a different perspective on issues. The fact that I am pursuing a job where I can tell people’s stories that could possibly incite some sort of change is exciting to me, and it is important to me to become the best features journalist I can be so I can better represent these people and their stories.

Q: What is your favorite quote?

“We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.” – Chuck Palahniuk

Q: What kinds of media do you personally read for fun and news?

For news, I read The Austin Chronicle, The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun and Texas Monthly. For fun, I typically like to read memoirs – the most memorable one I have read in the past year was “Slave: My True Story” by Mende Nazer, and I am currently reading “Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise” by Ruth Reichl. I also like to read music magazines, specifically Impose and Pitchfork. And fiction-wise, I typically enjoy books that are a little strange or dystopian – Chuck Palahniuk and Margaret Atwood, for example.

Q: What do you hope to get from SFJ conference?

I am extremely excited to attend the SFJ conference. I hope to learn about the industry from people working in the field and hear the stories of how they decided to pursue features journalism and their favorite stories they’ve worked on.

Apply now for 2016 Diversity Fellowship

Apply now for 2016 Diversity Fellowship

SFJ is now taking applications for its 2016 Penny Bender Fuchs Diversity Fellowship for journalists of color.

The fellowship covers all costs to attend our 2016 conference in Austin, Texas, from Aug. 9-14. Conference programming will focus on storytelling on all platforms.

Applicants should have a high interest in features journalism.

Deadline for applying is May 5.

SFJ diversity fellow