2013-14 Fellows

fellows_2013-14New York, NY – April, 2013 – Columbia Journalism School has named three journalists as the 2013- 2014 Spencer Fellows in Education Reporting to pursue projects that will examine the impact of evaluating teacher preparation programs, the Obama administration’s competitive grant programs, and why American undergraduates are not learning critical thinking skills in their college years. A distinguished board of education experts and journalists selected the fellows in a competitive application process.

The new fellows are Jamaal Abdul-Alim, a correspondent for Diverse Issues in Higher Education; Lauren Smith Camera, a staff writer for CQ Roll Call; and Annie Murphy Paul, a magazine writer and book author. Each fellow will receive a $75,000 stipend and expenses to spend the academic-year sabbatical studying with scholars throughout the Columbia campus and working on their projects under the guidance of professors at the Columbia Journalism School in New York.

“We are looking forward to pooling all our many resources on campus to work with these accomplished journalists,” said Prof. LynNell Hancock, an expert on education and child and family policy reporting, who serves as the curriculum director for the fellows during their year. “Our experience has shown that having Spencer Fellows study and write in residence enriches not only the depth of their long-form journalistic work, but also the profile of superb education reporting.”

Abdul-Alim, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin — Milwaukee, is a Washington correspondent for Diverse Issues in Higher Education and a freelance education writer. His articles have appeared in Education Week, Washington Monthly, and U.S. News & World Report. He is also a chess journalist whose articles have appeared in Chess Life Magazine. He began his career at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, where his work included an award-winning investigation of Milwaukee’s foster care system. In 2007, he was awarded a Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan. He will use the Spencer Fellowship to write about the national push to hold teacher preparation programs more accountable for student achievement.

Smith Camera, a graduate of Colby College, is the education policy staff writer at CQ Roll Call, formerly Congressional Quarterly. She covers pre-K, K-12 and higher education trends within Congress and the Obama administration. Before coming to GQ Roll Call, she freelanced about education issues for several publications, including U.S. News and World Report. She also wrote for The Chronicle of Higher Education. She has a master’s degree in print journalism from Boston University’s School of Communication. She will use the Spencer Fellowship to write about whether federal funding in the form of a competitive grant is a good investment.

Murphy Paul, a graduate of Yale University and Columbia Journalism School, has been a magazine and book author focusing on social science writing, since 1995. She has worked for Psychology Today and More magazine. Her published books include: “The Cult of Personality” (2004) and “Origins” (2010). Her newest book, “Brilliant: The New Science of Smart,” will be published in 2014. She has also freelanced for a variety of publications, including The New York Times, Slate and Time magazine. She will use the Spencer Fellowship to examine why American college students are not acquiring the higher-level thinking skills necessary in a knowledge-based economy and to explore ways U.S. colleges and universities could change their methods of instruction in order to foster their students’ intellectual growth.

The Spencer Fellowship in Education Reporting was established at the Journalism School in 2007 with funding from the Spencer Foundation in order to enrich long-form journalism with meaningful education research. Fellows spend the year on campus studying in classes and with individual professors in the Journalism School as well as other schools and departments at Columbia. “These new fellows were all selected based on the value their projects will bring to the complex issues surrounding public education, and the conversation around education reform,” said Arlene Morgan, associate dean for Prizes and Programs at Columbia Journalism School.

Jamaal Abdul-Alim, Lauren Smith Camera and Annie Murphy Paul join a distinguished group of 15 former Spencer Fellows, who have so far produced a Peabody award-winning radio documentary, published their work in various national newspapers and magazines, such as Scientific American,The New York Times Magazine and The American Prospect. Four books have been published; two more are under contract.