Quarterly Newsletter From Dean Geeta Anand

March 27, 2024

Spring 2024

Dear Berkeley Journalism community:

With great optimism about the future of our school, I share with you news of the largest gift in the history of Berkeley Journalism: Alum Angela Filo (’99) and her husband David Filo, the co-founder of Yahoo, have pledged $10 million to Berkeley Journalism.

This foundational gift in our five-year $54 million Campaign for Berkeley Journalism will give us the opportunity to support our students as never before and strengthen our world-class programs. We will begin by doubling the financial aid we offer to the incoming class this fall.

The gift advances our goal of changing who gets to be a journalist in this world. Increasing financial aid is key to liberating our graduates from the burden of student debt so they can go on to build careers in journalism.

In addition to directly providing endowment support for future generations of students, the gift provides a matching gift challenge to inspire other donors to create new Berkeley Journalism master’s fellowship endowments.

The gift will also enable Berkeley Journalism to expand its reporting on major issues, such as the climate crisis, and continue to address the decline of local news.

“Great journalism is essential to a thriving democracy,” said Angela Filo, a member of the school’s Advisory Board. “We have to invest in training the next generation of journalists who will ensure that communities have access to reliable and responsive information they can trust.”

Read the full announcement here about this extraordinary gift.

With elections threatened by disinformation, an accelerating climate crisis and ongoing violence globally, the role of journalists is more vital than ever before. So, too, is our role in educating the people we are counting on to hold the powerful to account and ensure that all stories are told.

Our democracy needs us to educate a new generation of exceptional fact-finders, storytellers and boundary breakers. This gift and our Campaign for Berkeley Journalism will enable us to achieve our ambitious vision that is essential to the future of journalism, democracy and our planet.


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Geeta Anand
Dean and Professor

What follows are some of the highlights from our prolific journalism community over the past few months. We share these snapshots knowing it is impossible for us to feature all of the accomplishments in this limited space. Please follow our social media channels to learn more about our community’s important work and accolades in real time. We ask for your grace if we have inadvertently left anyone out.

Campaign for Berkeley Journalism

It’s a big goal for a big vision. We’ve just publicly launched a five-year $54 million Campaign for Berkeley Journalism. We’re changing who gets to be a journalist. Reinventing climate journalism. Training the next investigative reporters. Supporting local news. And investing in a world-class journalism education. Please watch our Campaign video, learn more and get involved here.

Awards and Honors

Nani Sahra Walker ('18) with her Oscar for "The Last Repair Shop."

Nani Sahra Walker (’18) with her Oscar for “The Last Repair Shop.”

It’s been quite a few months of awards and accolades for the Berkeley Journalism community.

Nani Sahra Walker (’18) and Professor Jason Spingarn-Koff (’01) were executive producers of L.A. Times Studios’ “The Last Repair Shop,” which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.

Brian Howey (’22) won a George Polk Award for Justice Reporting, for a piece he developed — with Professor David Barstow’s guidance while he was a student — on a deceptive police tactic used on the families of victims of police violence. Alum Brett Murphy (’16), was part of ProPublica’s team that won a Polk Award and the Selden Ring Award for reporting on the Supreme Court. Both Murphy and Howey are also finalists for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.

Steve Saldivar (’10) was awarded the 2023 National Ruben Salazar award in Digital from the CCNMA Latino Journalists of California for “The Zoot Suit Riots Cruise brings back ‘a forgotten era,'” which was published in the Los Angeles Times.

Berkeley Journalism Advisory Board members Bill Whitaker (’78/’16) and Carrie Lozano (’05) were awarded top honors from the UC Berkeley Foundation and the Cal Alumni Association. Whitaker was named Alum of the Year and Lozano awarded the Campanile Excellence in Achievement Award. Whitaker said about his time at Berkeley: “We were photographers, writers, anchor people and camera people — we did it all. It was wonderful training for my life in journalism.”

Dean Geeta Anand and State Senator Steven Glazer were awarded service awards from the NorCal chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, the oldest U.S.-based journalism organization of its kind.

A side-by-side collage of two black and white photos. The left image shows a bald man with glasses and a beard, alumni from the Goldsmith Prize, wearing a light-colored suit. The right image shows an investigative reporting enthusiast with short hair, a nose ring, and ear gauges, smiling in a casual shirt.

Investigative reporters Brett Murphy (‘16) and Brian Howey (’22)

Student News

Students are gathered around a professor, David Barstow, who is seated in a chair. All are looking at the camera.

The Developing Your Blockbuster Investigative Story class pictured in the newsroom of the IRP, from left to right: Marissa Muller, Sasha Schell, Charles Ayitey, Saumya Gupta, Laura Fitzgerald, Professor David Barstow, Hana Beach, Beki San Martin, Kathleen Quinn, Max Harrison-Caldwell, Cayla Mihalovich, Tarini Mehta, Kate Raphael and Cara Nixon. Photo by Marlena Telvick.

Students in our Investigative Reporting Program have published major stories in leading publications over the past few months. IRP students and alums contributed to the second series of “On Our Watch,” a podcast on KQED about “New Folsom” prison. Cayla Mihalovich (’24) investigated how survivors of forced sterilization in California were denied reparations.

As part of the IRP’s “Aging in America” series funded by the SCAN Foundation, Holly McDede (’25) published a story on the push to urge specialized training for California police officers interacting with people with dementia. Luiz H. Monticelli (’25) was the photographer. Celeste Hamilton Dennis (’24) wrote “It’s a Crisis. Hoarding is Costing some Older People their Homes” in the San Francisco Chronicle, with photos by Florence Middleton (’24).

Two individuals are depicted in separate images side by side. On the left, a woman with dark hair is smiling with her arms crossed, wearing a red and blue plaid shirt. On the right, Jeremiah Rhodes, one of the student commencement speakers for the Class of 2024, is smiling and resting his chin on his hand, wearing a blue striped shirt.

Class of 2024 student commencement speakers Tarini Mehta and Jeremiah O. Rhodes.

Current and former IRP students Bella Arnold (’24), Hanisha Harjani (’23), Simmerdeep Kaur (’24), Grace Marion (’24), Adam Solorzano (’24) and Krissy Waite (’23) contributed research to a story in The Guardian by the IRP’s Lisa Pickoff-White (’09), exposing how at least 22 Californians have died while being held face down by police since 2016.

In “Veil of fire and smoke over Richmond from what Chevron says is a flare,” first-year students Erika Zaro, Amaray Alvarez, Yichong Qiu and Reporter-in-Residence Fellow Ana Tellez-Witrago covered a breaking story about a fire at the Chevron refinery.

Negar Ajayebi (’25) was named a White House Correspondents’ Association scholarship recipient. Ajayebi has been a freelance audio journalist researching, editing and hosting podcasts for almost a decade. She’ll be attending a special luncheon for scholarship winners and the annual White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner in Washington, D.C. at the end of April.

A man smiles at the camera. He is holding a video camera that leans on his shoulder

Sasha Schell (’24) reporting in Brazil for his thesis project. Photo by: Cicero Pedrosa.

Alumni News

The New York Times Magazine recently published a 26-page cover story featuring Richard Barnes‘ (’79) photographs documenting the collections of seven notable individuals who died in 2023, for its annual “The Lives They Lived” issue. Barnes was also featured in the fall/winter edition of California, the UC Berkeley alumni magazine, about the backstory of photographing “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski’s cabin, his first assignment for the magazine in 1998.

A man kneels while using a camera on a tripod in a cluttered workshop filled with large white sculptures. The natural light streaming through the windows adds clarity to the scene, ideal for capturing content for our Quarterly Newsletter as Dean Geeta Anand's arts initiative highlights various abstract and figurative sculptures.

Richard Barnes’ (’79) photos were featured in a recent cover story in The New York Times Magazine.

At our annual “Cal @ Sundance” event in January, there was much to celebrate. Myah Overstreet (’23) debuted her thesis film, “To Be Invisible,” co-edited by Noah McMillan (’23) and William Jenkins (’23) — only the third student thesis to show at the festival. Professors Jason Spingarn-Koff and Jennifer Redfearn were supervising producers. Director, producer and cinematographer Daphne Matziaraki’s (’16) “The Battle for Laikipi” competed in Sundance’s World Cinema Documentary Competition. Four alums worked on the film, including Maya Craig (’17), James Pace-Cornsilk (’16), Lauren Schwartzman (’18) and Emily Thomas (’18). Sweta Vohra (’10) produced “Power” (commissioned by Spingarn-Koff at Netflix), which also screened as a world premiere.

Half of the page is a man with short grey hair looking at the camera. The other half is an image of a book cover that reads At the Edge of Empire: A Family's Reckoning with China. Edward Wong, New York Times Correspondent

Edward Wong

Lecturer and Advisory Board member Edward Wong (’98), a diplomatic correspondent for The New York Times who reports on foreign policy from Washington, D.C., has a new book out titled “At the Edge of Empire: A Family’s Reckoning With China.” Named one of Foreign Policy’s Most Anticipated Books of 2024, it’s a dual narrative that tells the story of modern China by braiding an intergenerational family memoir with first-person contemporary reporting.

knobs on a board that are the colors of the American flag, red, white, and blue. The words read: A Hulu Original Documentary. A Journey to Remix the American Sound. A Peter Nicks Film. Anthem. Now Streaming. Hulu.

Image for Anthem, a film by Peter Nicks

Pete Nicks (’99), Sean Havey (’14) and Chris L. Jenkins‘ (’00) documentary “Anthem” (Proximity Media) had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival and is available to watch on Hulu. Reflecting upon “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “Anthem” follows acclaimed composer Kris Bowers and music producer Dahi as they take a musical journey traveling across America to create a new sound, inspired by what our country’s national anthem might be if written in today’s time.

Director Alexis Bloom‘s (’01) latest film “Catching Fire: The Story of Anita Pallenberg” recently premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. The film is slated for release by Magnolia Pictures in May.

Jason Cohn (’98) and Camille Servan-Schreibrer‘s (’98) latest film “Modernism, Inc” had its California premiere at the SF Indie Film Fest in February. Talia Mindich (’22) was the associate producer and assistant editor. Nina Goodby (’11) was assistant editor.

As an IRP student in the second-year seminar, “Developing Your Blockbuster Investigative Story,” with support from IRP Managing Editor Bernice Yeung, Iqra Salah (’23) produced a report on patients forced to turn to racketeers in Nigeria due to severe blood shortages, for Al Jazeera. Additional reporting by Linus Unah (’23).


Faculty News

A man, Professor Bill Drummond, stands next to a woman, Professor Lisa Armstrong, and three students. They are in front of San Quentin.

Professor Bill Drummond, Professor Lisa Armstrong, Berkeley undergraduates Sandhya Dharini Ganesan and Esther Jeromine Cannesson and Wendy Medina (’24) at the San Quentin Guild Commencement. Photo by Vincent E. O’Bannon.

Professor Jennifer Redfearn, who received UC Berkeley’s prestigious Philomathia Prize in January, used the honor to organize “Immersive Environmental Storytelling” and showcase multidisciplinary storytelling about the climate crisis.

Professor Edward Wasserman wrote a powerful op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Why I still encourage my students to pursue journalism, even in the face of mass layoffs.”

Professor Lisa Armstrong wrote a story in The Guardian about why Black women are more likely to experience infertility than white women. Listen to a fascinating interview with her about the story here. She was also interviewed by KTVU about the crisis in Haiti. Armstrong and Professor Bill Drummond were on hand for the San Quentin Guild Commencement at the prison on March 15 (see photo above).

Professor Jennifer LaFleur was part of a Center for Public Integrity team whose investigation into the patchwork safety net for homeless students was recognized with a special citation in the Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Philip Meyer Journalism Award.

Our new spring lecturers include NPR Senior White House Correspondent Tamara Keith (’01) co-host of the NPR Politics Podcast, who is teaching a 5-week online political reporting course focused on the 2024 elections. Caron Creighton (’19), resident filmmaker at SFFilm FilmHouse teaches “Video Reporting and Storytelling.” Tom Giles, who works with Bloomberg’s San Francisco, New York and London bureaus, teaches “Covering Silicon Valley” as part of our new Business Journalism program, a joint initiative with Haas School of Business. The Washington Post’s Daron Taylor, a senior animator and video editor, teaches an online course called “Animating the News.” Ankita Mukhopadhyay Kumar, a journalist and documentary filmmaker, is teaching the Reporting on India class.

Lecturer Nick Romeo wrote “An Economics Lesson from Tolstoy” for The New Yorker. His recently published book “The Alternative: How to Build a Just Economy” was reviewed by The Guardian.

Lecturer Adam Hochschild’s latest book “American Midnight: The Great War, A Violent Peace, and Democracy’s Forgotten Crisis” (Mariner) was named to History Today’s (Britain’s leading history magazine) 2023 Books of the Year list.

California Local News Fellowship

As part of our state-funded California Local News Fellowship program, forty reporters are working in newsrooms across the state, writing stories about housing and rent control, health care, prison life and more. Watch this brief video that features alum Williamena Kwapo (‘23), a reporter for the Black-owned Sacramento Observer.

In January, the program selected incarcerated journalist Steve Brooks as its 40th Fellow. Read about Brooks and the contributions he’s making to local news in the Bay Area.

The applicant pool for our second California Local News Fellowship cohort grew by 28 percent this year. By this fall, we will have almost 80 early career journalists — many of them graduates of our school — working at nearly 80 California outlets.

Ferriss-UC Berkeley Psychedelic Journalism Fellows

A grid of headshots in our Quarterly Newsletter features ten people: five in the top row and five in the bottom. Each person, including Dean Geeta Anand, has a name label underneath their image. The individuals display various expressions and are shown against different backgrounds.

The 2024 Ferriss-UC Berkeley Psychedelic Journalism Fellows have been announced and include alum Anne Marshall-Chalmers (’22). The groundbreaking fellowship, established by leading podcaster and bestselling author Tim Ferriss in 2021, is a project of the U.C. Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics. Launched in 2020, the BCSP was co-founded by Michael Pollan, a longtime faculty member at Berkeley Journalism.


A bald man with glasses wearing a blue denim shirt looks into the camera with a slight smile. The background features lush green foliage, suggesting an outdoor, natural setting. The image has a warm, serene ambiance.

Emeritus Professor Michael Pollan to speak at Zellerbach Playhouse on May 3. Photo by: Tabitha Soren.

March 27: Investigative Reporting Program Managing Editor Bernice Yeung talks with Pulitzer Prize-winning sociologist Matthew Desmond at City Arts & Lectures, co-presented by the San Francisco Public Library, 7:30 pm at the Sydney Goldstein Theatre about his latest book, “Poverty, by America.”

April 3: Professor Shereen Marisol Meraji talks with Hanif Abdurraqib at City Arts & Lectures, 7:30 pm at the Sydney Goldstein Theater about his new book, “There’s Always This Year: On Basketball and Ascension.”

April 9: Professor Ken Light hosts the Fotovision Lecture: An evening with photographer James Nachtwey at the David Brower Center in Berkeley. More information and tickets here.

April 12: The 5th annual Media Mayhem virtual career fair and networking event, co-hosted by our student chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), will bring together recruiters from outlets such as The New Yorker, KQED, Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg, Associated Press, The Athletic, Seattle Times, Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting, Mother Jones, Inside Climate News and Chicago Public Media, among many others. Our reputation is that our students are that good. Is your news organization interested in attending? Contact Director of Career Development Betsy Rate, here.

April 19–21: 16th Annual Reva and David Logan Symposium on Investigative Reporting.

April 23: The Possibility Lab presents Conversations with Possibility: Journalism & Public Policy featuring leading political reporters Marisa Lagos (KQED), Melanie Mason (’10) (POLITICO), and Laurel Rosenhall (’02) (Los Angeles Times). The reporters will discuss the important intersections between government, politics and journalism — and share best practices for current and aspiring policy practitioners. More info here.

A person with short, dark hair wearing glasses and a patterned blouse poses against a dark gray background. They are smiling slightly and donning a large, chunky necklace.

Carrie Lozano

Filmmaker Carrie Lozano (’05), president and CEO of ITVS, will be the keynote speaker at Berkeley Journalism’s 2024 Commencement ceremony May 11. Read more here.

Through April 26: The Reva and David Logan Gallery of Documentary Photography hosts “For Better or Worse: The beauty and desperation of downtown San Francisco.” The exhibit of student work will be up until Friday, April 26. We invite everyone to stop by the school on weekdays to see these remarkable images in the halls of North Gate Hall.

May 3: KQED’s Mina Kim talks with Emeritus Professor Michael Pollan at Zellerbach Playhouse about our individual and collective well-being, from changing what’s on our tables to what’s on our minds. The event celebrates Michael Pollan’s body of work and the establishment of a new Michael Pollan Narrative Journalism Fund at Berkeley Journalism. Tickets go on sale April 2.

A collage of student headshots. Each are against a black backdrop.

Photojournalism students currently exhibiting their photos in the Logan Gallery clockwise from top left: Florence Middleton, Gisselle Medina, Samuel Tanner, Max Harrison-Caldwell, Shannon Faulise, Najim Rahim, Jule-Sophie Hermann, George Alfaro, Grace Marion, Khwaga Ghani and Emily Brower. Photos: Jule-Sophie Hermann.


A group of students in the courtyard of North Gate Hall. Several of them have their arms around one another. Two people stand on a bench behind the others.

First-year producers of the outstanding short documentaries that premiered at Showcase pictured in the courtyard of North Gate Hall with their J283 instructors Cassandra Herrman and Caron Creighton March 19, 2024. From left to right: Caron Creighton, Cassandra Herrman, Veronique Eshaya, Zoe Rosenblum, Matthew Busch, Liliana Cortés, Zane Karram, Cecil Egbele, Becca Duncan, Thomas Sawano, Denis Akbari, Walter David Marino, Amin Muhammad, Isabella Marzban, Sophia Sun, Nadia Akbar, Alicia Chiang, Neenma Ebeledike and Hallie Applebaum.


Black and white photo. A group of people who are Berkeley alumni at a gathering in what looks like a restaurant or pub.

Alumni and student meetup at IRE and NICAR’s annual data journalism conference March 7-10 in Baltimore, hosted by Professor Jeremy Sanchez Rue (‘07).

About this letter: The Dean’s Quarterly News is sent to alumni, donors, students, faculty, media partners and others in Berkeley Journalism’s broad community. If you’d like to follow ongoing developments in real-time, find us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and X. Have alumni news or accomplishments to share? Please send it, along with a high-res headshot and bio to journalism@berkeley.edu. Are you hiring? Please reach out to career.services@berkeley.edu. Want to learn more about donating to the school? Contact stevekatz@berkeley.edu. Sign up for our mailing and events lists here.

Dean's Newsletter

Black and white portrait of Berkeley Journalism Dean Geeta Anand with short hair and hoop earrings, wearing a dark top. The background is blurred foliage.

Quarterly Newsletter from Dean Geeta Anand

Geeta Anand. Photo by Christopher Michel. Dear Berkeley Journalism Community, We live in a moment like no other. The threats to democratic culture posed by weaponized disinformation, partisan disharmony, and…