Announcing the Recipients of the 2019 Journalism in the Era of Disinformation Fellowship

WASHINGTON – The continuing pervasiveness of inaccuracies and falsehoods across media outlets and social media platforms makes it more important than ever for journalists to identify and raise awareness about disinformation, as well as to develop strategies to fact-check and verify their sources.

Building on the success of its inaugural edition in 2018, Cultural Vistas is continuing to do its part in the fight for truth and transparency by offering 16 young journalists from Germany and the United States the opportunity to meet with academics and career professionals as part of the Journalism in the Era of Disinformation (JED) Fellowship, beginning later this week in Washington, D.C.

The fully-funded week-long program aims to equip the 2019 JED fellows with the skills necessary to effectively navigate the ever-changing landscape of news reporting and media technology, while maintaining the highest standards of integrity, professionalism, and fact-based reporting. Beginning Saturday, May 18, the student journalists from both countries will take part in a series of academic workshops and discussions with media professionals during a study tour which will take them to Annapolis, Maryland; New York City; and Washington, D.C.

Cultural Vistas has assembled a diverse itinerary for the group that includes meetings with representatives of The Associated Press, Washington Post, National Association for Media Literacy Education, National Public Radio, and Axios, among others.

At the conclusion of the program, the fellows will be tasked with reporting on program learning and best practices across various media outlets in both countries, and will work to summarize the outcomes of their research in a white paper.

The JED Fellowship is funded by the Transatlantic Program of the government of the Federal Republic of Germany through funds of the European Recovery Program (ERP) of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi).


See highlights from #JED18 via Twitter and find out more about the 2019 Journalism in the Era of Disinformation Fellows below.

Charles “Chip” Brownlee
Education: B.A. in Journalism and Political Science, Auburn University
Hometown: Auburn, Alabama

“The rise of disinformation is a serious threat to democracy.”


René Bucken
Education: B.A. in German and Social Sciences, Westphalian Wilhelm University of Münster
Hometown: Wachtendonk, Germany

“We need to think about strategies for regaining self-confidence and the public understanding of journalism.”


Jacob Cavaiani
Education: B.A. in Journalism, University of Missouri – Columbia
Hometown: Columbia, Missouri

“It’s critical for journalists to sort out real from fake.”


Fatoumata Ceesay
Education: B.A. in Journalism and Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Hometown: Madison, Wisconsin

“I believe [Disinformation] is important because fake news has real-world consequences.”


Brooke Conrad
Education: B.A. in English, Hillsdale College
Hometown: Bay Minette, Alabama

“Disinformation threatens democratic government and prevents healthy public discourse.”


Irene Franco Rubio
Education: B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communications, Arizona State University
Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona

“Content consumption is at an all-time high in this digital age and being misinformed is easier than ever before.”


Ashley Fredde
Education: B.S. in Broadcast Journalism, University of Arizona
Hometown: Park City, Utah

“Disinformation is an important topic today because it undermines not only the freedom of the press but of our democratic society as well.”


Kaja Klapsa
Education: M.A. in Journalism, Axel-Springer Academy
Hometown: Berlin, Germany

“People’s trust in democracy massively diminishes if we cannot agree on what is true or false anymore.”


Britt-Marie Lakämper
Education: M.S. in Journalism, University of Leipzig
Hometown: Leipzig, Germany

“Disinformation hinders public trust of the journalistic world.”


Marie Menke
Education: B.A. in Political Science and Media, University of Bonn
Hometown: Olsberg, Germany

“Journalists must prevent the spread of disinformation so the society can make well-informed choices in today’s democracies.”


Charlotte Norsworthy
Education: B.A. in Journalism and Political Science, University of Georgia
Hometown: Athens, Georgia

“The issue of disinformation is a new reality for journalism, one that we must address collaboratively.”


Dalal Radwan
Education: M.A. in Journalism, University of Arizona
Hometown: Tucson, Arizona

“It takes lies and power to bury the truth and advance false information among the masses. It takes informed, strong- willed people to challenge that and set the truth free.”


Anna Reuss
Education: PhD in Political Science, University of the Federal Armed Forces of Germany
Hometown: Munich, Germany

“It is important to deal with disinformation as it prevents the audience from competently participating in democratic decision-making processes.”


Richard Schönjahn
Education: M.S. in Journalism, University of Leipzig
Hometown: Leipzig, Germany

“Disinformation endangers the credibility of current journalism.”


Alisa Sonntag
Education: M.A. in Journalism. Martin Luther University – Halle
Hometown: Leipzig, Germany

“For good political decisions people need good information.”


Carolin Wollschied
Education: M.A. in Journalism, Johannes Gutenberg University – Mainz
Hometown: Mainz, Germany

“Due to today’s easy access to disinformation, transparency and correctness in journalism has never been more important.”