Illinois Humanities and the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting jointly announced today that Anna Casey has been named their first-ever Audience Engagement Fellow. During the 12-month term of her Fellowship, Casey will work full-time with the Center, a Champaign-based nonprofit investigative newsroom focused on agriculture and agribusiness, to build dialogue with the community members and involve them more deeply in the reporting process.
Casey comes to the Center’s team from Austin, TX, where she completed a Master of Arts in Journalism from the University of Texas. Her reporting has appeared in outlets including the Texas Tribune, the Austin American-Statesman, and npr.org, the website of National Public Radio.
“Anna’s on-the-ground community engagement experience coupled with her extensive reporting experience and vast skill set make her the ideal candidate for this position,” said Pam Dempsey, executive director of the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting. “We look forward to welcoming her to our newsroom.”
Casey’s fellowship is part of a new collaboration between the Center and Illinois Humanities, a private 501(c)(3) state-level affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Headquartered in Chicago with a satellite office in Edwardsville, IL, Illinois Humanities aims to strengthen society by fueling inquiry and conversation about the ideas and works that shape culture through programs, events, and grants.
The Fellowship is part of Illinois Humanities’ suite of programming in Media and Journalism – one of the organization’s five core areas of focus – which aims to strengthen connections and build collaboration between journalists and the communities they cover.
In addition to providing financial support for the Fellowship, Illinois Humanities will work with Casey and the Center’s staff to organize a series of public events that will inform the Center’s reporting. Illinois Humanities will also help coordinate a series of webinars and live conversations for other journalists, focused on gathering feedback and sharing lessons learned.
“‘Engagement’ is a buzzword in the journalism industry right now, but it means different things to different people. We see this collaboration with the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting as an opportunity to learn more about how community engagement can most effectively foster more responsive reporting,” said Simon Nyi, Program Manager for Media and Journalism at Illinois Humanities.
Casey’s Fellowship term begins on July 11th. The first live event related to the Fellowship will take place in the fall of 2017.