Updates from Recent FIRE Recipients

Since its founding in 2016, the FIRE program has provided custom reporting services to 150 reporters on stories touching on everything from toxic pesticides to prison gerrymandering—stories that have won the Participant Media Spotlight Award, the Society of Professional journalists’ Lisagor award, the Frontline Club award, and were finalists to the Lisagor, Livingston, Foreign Press Association, and Wincott awards.   

FIRE is primarily a service provider for the field. While a small portion of the reporters received story grants, and others have gone on to receive grants elsewhere, all received FIRE’s hands-on research and editorial guidance, including 79 reporters in the past three years.  

We’ve tracked a handful below, with their recent work.  

  • Ayo Awokoya (Editorial Consultancy/Virtual Newsroom 2018)

Released an investigation with co-reporter Tobias Jones on the exploitation of majority-African migrant labor to grow Italian produce. Their story appeared in the Guardian UK in 2019, winning a Frontline Club award.

  • Cat Ferguson (Editorial Consultancy 2017)

Became a 2018 Livingston Award finalist for her 2017 Verge report on exploitative rehab referrals, which leverage online marketing to direct patients to low-quality private facilities.

  • Natasha Gilbert (Editorial Consultancy 2016)

Released a December, 2019 story with Stat News on how waste products from pharmaceutical factories contaminate waterways. 

  • Gretchen Rachel Hammond (Editorial Consultancy 2018)

Produced a five-part series on corrupt guardianship laws in Michigan, in 2019, which was a finalist in the 2020 Chicago Society of Professional Journalists (Lisagor) awards.

  • Natasha Haverty (Editorial Consultancy 2017) 

Created a podcast on prison gerrymandering, the practice of incorrectly counting inmates in the census for political gain, for Reveal in 2020.

  • Karen Landman (Editorial Consultancy 2020)

Delivered an October, 2020 story on the creation of Georgia's faulty COVID-19 dashboard and its consequences, for Atlanta magazine.

  • Scott Morris (Editorial Consultancy 2019)

Released a series, published by ProPublica in June 2020, on California businesses that profit from negligent disposal of toxic waste. 

  • Christopher Pala (Virtual Newsroom 2018)

Wrote on toxic pesticides causing illness in Hawaii for the Earth Island Journal in late 2020.

  • Emily Pamler (Virtual Newsroom 2016)

Conducted an investigation with co-reporter Jessica Huseman on how Child Protective Services in every state fail to comply fully with national law, winning the Boston Globe Spotlight Award and publishing in the Globe in December, 2019.

  • Kira Zalan (Virtual Newsroom 2018)

Parlayed her FIRE-supported reporting into an August, 2020 piece, published with co-reporter Emmanuel Freudenthal in OCCRP, that used flight data to uncover the powerful role of private contractors in perpetuating U.S. airstrikes in Somalia.

While continuing to develop their FIRE-supported investigations, the following reporters released these additional stories:

  • Ali Alibrahim (Editorial Consultancy 2019)

Wrote on the plight of medically vulnerable communities in Syria and Turkey in light of COVID-19, including increased violence against people with special needs, as well as a retrospective on the assassination Raed Fares and its legal implications, all published in 2020.

  • Clair MacDougall (Editorial Consultancy 2019)

Published a story on the difficulties facing journalists in Burkina Faso for Columbia Journalism Review in November, 2020. 

  • Natalia Megas (Editorial Consultancy 2019)

Covered COVID-19 in three stories in the Guardian in 2020, including one documenting the experiences and deaths of healthcare workers on the frontlines

  • Alden Wicker (Editorial Consultancy 2019)

Released a November, 2020 story in the New York Times with co-reporter Elizabeth Paton on the collapse of the fashion empire built by Indian designer Manish Arora.