Monday, July 26, 2021

Knight Science Journalism Program Names 2021-22 Project Fellows, including Nina Berman


Via Knight Science Journalism

July 26, 2021

Twenty-one distinguished journalists will pursue a diverse range of projects related to science, health, technology, and the environment.

The Knight Science Journalism Program (KSJ) is pleased to announce that it has selected a group of 21 distinguished science journalists for its 2021-22 project fellowship class — a cohort that ranges from award-winning freelance writers to staff reporters for outlets such as The Dallas Morning News, The New York Times, and MIT Technology Review.

It marks the second year that KSJ will offer the remote project fellowships, which were established in response to the unique challenges and public health concerns presented by the Covid-19 pandemic. The fellowships are designed to support journalists pursuing a diverse range of projects related to science, health, technology, and the environment. Each fellow will receive a stipend and a budget for project related expenses, as well as access to seminars, workshops, mentoring, and a large offering of online resources at MIT. (KSJ’s traditional in-person fellowships are expected to resume in the 2022-23 academic year.)

The newly selected fellows will pursue in-depth reporting projects probing issues such as globalization in the artificial intelligence industry, inequities in maternal health, animal lab testing, and environmental justice in the Deep South. “It’s an impressive array of projects that really embodies the multitude of ways our lives are touched by science.” said KSJ associate director Ashley Smart. “We’re proud to be able to support so much important work — and the talented journalists who are undertaking it.”

“The Knight Science Journalism Program is honored to contribute to the work being done by this talented group of science journalists,” said KSJ director Deborah Blum. “It’s a pleasure to see such innovative and insightful work across so many platforms – books, documentary films, podcasts, long-form investigative stories – all with such a promise of making a difference.”

Selected from a highly competitive pool of applicants, the 2021-22 fellowship class includes authors, reporters, documentary photographers, and multimedia journalists representing every time zone in the contiguous United States. Seven journalists will receive full-year fellowships supported by $40,000 stipends; fourteen will receive single semester fellowships supported by $20,000 stipends, with nine in the fall semester and five in the spring semester fellowships.

The Knight Science Journalism program, supported by a generous endowment from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, is recognized around the world as the premier mid-career fellowship program for science writers, editors, and multimedia journalists. The program’s goal is to foster professional growth among the world’s small but essential community of journalists covering science and technology, and encourage them to pursue that mission, first and foremost, in the public interest.

Since its founding in 1983, the program has hosted more than 350 fellows representing media outlets from The New York Times to Le Monde, from CNN to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and more. In addition to the fellowship program, KSJ publishes the award-winning digital magazine Undark and administers a national journalism prize, the Victor K. McElheny Award, honoring local and regional science reporting. KSJ’s academic home at MIT is the Department of Science, Technology and Society, which is part of the School of Humanities Arts and Social Sciences.

Nina Berman is a documentary photographer, filmmaker, author and professor at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Her books include “Purple Hearts – Back from Iraq,” (Trolley, 2004), “Homeland,” (Trolley, 2008) and “An autobiography of Miss Wish” (2017). Berman’s project, When the Jets Fly, is a multi-channel documentary film, photography and audio report investigating the environmental impact of USA military training focusing on Whidbey Island, WA, and the greater Puget Sound area.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Spyware reform critical as at least 180 journalists revealed as potential Pegasus targets


Via The Committee To Protect Journalists

New York, July 19, 2021 – In response to reports that at least 180 journalists were identified by investigative reporters as possible targets of Pegasus spyware, produced by the Israeli company NSO Group, the Committee to Protect Journalists reaffirmed its call for immediate action by governments and companies around the world to stem abuse of powerful technology that can be used to spy on the press.

“This report shows how governments and companies must act now to stop the abuse of this spyware which is evidently being used to undermine civil liberties, not just counter terrorism and crime,” said Robert Mahoney, CPJ’s deputy executive director. “No one should have unfettered power to spy on the press, least of all governments known to target journalists with physical abuse and legal reprisals.”

The reporting, known as the Pegasus Project, was conducted by a consortium including investigative journalism nonprofit Forbidden Stories and global media outlets such as The Washington Post. Amnesty International, which performed technical analysis, reported that more than 180 journalists had been identified by the consortium on a list of 50,000 phone numbers allegedly linked to clients of NSO Group technology. In a statement emailed to CPJ, an NSO spokesperson said there was nothing to link the 50,000 numbers to NSO Group or Pegasus. In a rebuttal published online, the company said the consortium’s allegations were false.

NSO has repeatedly told CPJ in the past that it licenses Pegasus to fight crime and terrorism. The July 19 statement said its products were “sold to vetted foreign governments.”

“NSO Group will continue to investigate all credible claims of misuse and take appropriate action based on the results of these investigations,” it said. “This includes shutting down of a customers’ system, something NSO has proven its ability and willingness to do, due to confirmed misuse, has done multiple times in the past, and will not hesitate to do again if a situation warrants.”

CPJ has issued recommendations to policymakers and companies to combat spyware abuse against the media.

Monday, July 12, 2021

July 16: Uranium Remembrance Day

color photogrph by Nina Berman of Trinity Site during visitors day
Nina Berman: Trinity Site #1, White Sands Missile Range, NM , 2016


On July 16, 1979, the worst accidental release of radioactive waste in US history happened at the Church Rock uranium mine and mill site.

While the Three Mile Island accident (that same year) is well known, the enormous radioactive spill in New Mexico has been largely unknown - it is the US nuclear accident that almost no one knows about. Just 14 weeks after the Three Mile Island reactor accident, and 34 years to the day of the Trinity atomic test, the small community of Church Rock, New Mexico became the scene of another nuclear tragedy. 

color photograph of Residents from Navajo communities gather on Uranium Remembrance Day, Church Rock, NM July 16, 2016.
Nina Berman: Residents from Navajo communities gather on Uranium Remembrance Day, Church Rock, NM July 16, 2016. 

More than 1,100 tons of uranium mining tailings and 100 million gallons of radioactive material emptied through a collapsed dam and into the Puerco River, running directly through numerous communities. The" in a remote area inhabited by possibly the most poverty-stricken and disenfranchised community of people in the country - Native Americans. Rarely is the Church Rock anniversary either known or noted.

color photograph of faralitos for Uranium Remembrance Day, Church Rock, NM 2016
Nina Berman: Uranium Remembrance Day, Church Rock, NM 2016

Nina Berman received the 2016 Aftermath Project Grant for “Acknowledgment of Danger,” a look at the “toxic legacy of war on the American landscape.” She photographed the Church Rock community and the Trinity site as part of the project. Berman is a documentary photographer, filmmaker, author and educator. Her wide-ranging work looks at  American politics, militarism, environmental contamination and post violence trauma.  Her photographs and videos have been exhibited at more than 100 venues from the security walls of the Za’atari refugee camp to the Whitney Museum of American Art.  She is the author of Purple Hearts – Back from Iraq (2004), portraits and interviews with wounded American veterans, Homeland (2008), a look at the militarization in post-September 11 America, and most recently, An autobiography of Miss Wish (2017), a story told with a survivor of sexual violence which was shortlisted for both the Aperture and Arles book prizes.  Additional fellowships, awards, and grants include the New York Foundation for the Arts, the World Press Photo Foundation, Pictures of the Year International, the Open Society Foundation, the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University and the Aftermath Project. She is a member of the photography and film collective NOOR images and is a professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism where she directs the photography program. She lives in her hometown of New York City.