Groundbreaking Journalism Project to Revitalize Youth Justice Reporting in Upstate New York

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NEW YORK – As part of an ambitious plan to reinvigorate watchdog journalism in the backyards of America’s statehouses, The Chronicle of Social Change is proud to announce recipients of its 2019 Raise the Age Reporting Fellowships.

The national nonprofit news outlet’s New York bureau will provide stipends and reporting support to four reporters in upstate and western New York to cover the implementation of the state’s major youth justice reform legislation known as Raise the Age.

The law, signed in 2017, raised the age ceiling of New York’s juvenile justice system to 16 this year and to 17 by October of 2019. It also forced New York City to move all detained 16- and 17-year-olds off the Riker’s Island jail complex this past October. The law requires every court, cop and detention facility statewide to change how they handle 16- and 17-year-olds who are arrested, tried or convicted for committing a crime.

The reporting fellowship aims to boost local coverage from the state capital region, through the Catskills and the Finger Lakes, up to Lake Ontario.

“New York State lost nearly a third of its newspapers in the last 15 years, many of them outside of media-rich New York City,” said Michael Fitzgerald, The Chronicle’s New York editor and a 2018-19 juvenile justice reporting fellow with John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “This is a way to incentivize talented local veteran and student journalists to cover major policy transformations that badly need more oversight.”

A 2018 report from Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy found that in the 100 small communities surveyed less than half of local news stories were produced by local journalists, and barely half covered critical policy issues.

The Raise the Age Fellowship is generously supported by The Tow Foundation, a Connecticut-based family foundation, which supports innovative efforts to transform the juvenile and criminal justice systems.

“The Tow Foundation is pleased to support the Raise the Age Fellowship,” said Diane Sierpina, director of justice initiatives for the Tow Foundation. “We recognize the critical need for all youth justice reforms, especially the Raise the Age legislation, to be implemented with fidelity for the benefit of young people, families and communities. Media coverage in upstate and rural New York will help ensure that this happens.”

New York State’s efforts to move young people out of the adult criminal justice system will be varied across its 62 counties. Covering county- and region-level developments will promote accountability, elevate best practices and identify common challenges.

The fellowship program will also serve as proof of concept for collaborations between local outlets, issue-specific nonprofits, schools of journalism and the larger philanthropic community that supports journalism.

This year’s Raise the Age fellows:

Abe Kenmore is a political reporter at the Watertown Daily Times, covering federal, state and local matters in New York’s North Country. Over the past year he has written about local implementation of Raise the Age and covered Elise Stefanik’s campaign for the United States House of Representatives.

Devon Magliozzi is a general assignment reporter with the Ithaca Voice. She recently completed her PhD in sociology at Stanford, and her writing and research has been featured in The Harvard Business ReviewThe Conversation, and on Wisconsin Public Radio.

Elizabeth Floyd Mair covers the large Albany suburb of Guilderland, writing about crime, government, schools, business, and features for The Altamont Enterprise & Albany County Post. She has also reported for the Albany Times-Union, and won two New York Press Association awards in 2018 for her reporting.

Muhammad Nomani is a graduate student at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications studying Print and Online Journalism. He is currently an editor for the student publication The Stand and contributing writer for The Daily Orange.

About The Chronicle of Social Change – The Chronicle is a national nonprofit news site that uses a mix of investigative, accountability and solution-oriented journalism to drive reform within the systems that serve vulnerable children, youth and their families. The Chronicle has editorial staff in California, New York, Michigan, Arizona and Wyoming, and is scaling its work nationally.

About The Tow Foundation – The Tow Foundation, established in 1988 by Leonard and Claire Tow, funds projects that offer transformative experiences to individuals and create collaborative ventures in fields where they see opportunities for breakthroughs, reform, and benefits for underserved populations. Investments focus on the support of innovative programs and system reform in the areas of juvenile and criminal justice, groundbreaking medical research, higher education, and cultural institutions. For more information, visit towfoundation.org.

Thalia Henderson