Sixteen German and American Young Professionals Selected for Inaugural Journalism in the Era of Disinformation Fellowship

WASHINGTON – Almost two-thirds of adults in the United States feel that ‘fake news’ is sowing confusion over the basic facts of current issues and events. Even more turn to social media platforms for news consumption despite low degrees of trust in the information received there.

The pervasiveness of disinformation in news media and technology’s profound impact on the journalism industry in Germany and the United States are two of the central themes that 16 journalism professionals will explore firsthand during the inaugural year of the Journalism in the Era of Disinformation (JED) Fellowship, which gets underway later this week in Washington, D.C.

The fully-funded weeklong program aims to equip the 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 19, the fellows from both countries will take part in a series of site visits, which will bring them to Charlottesville, Virginia; New York City; and Washington, D.C. to meet journalists, think tanks, and media experts and discuss the role of disinformation in political news coverage and explore possible strategies to counteract its rise.

Cultural Vistas has assembled a diverse itinerary that includes meetings with representatives of Politifact, The Associated Press, The New York Times, National Association for Media Literacy Education, Center for International Policy’s Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative, and Charlottesville’s The Daily Progress, among others.

At the conclusion of the program, the fellows will be tasked with reporting on program learning and best practices within their 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).


Below is more information on the 2018 Journalism in the Era of Disinformation Fellows, including why they feel disinformation is an important topic in 10 or fewer words.

Adrian Breda
Education: MA in Journalism, University of Leipzig (in progress)
Hometown: Leipzig, Germany

“Disinformation erodes societal norms – and therefore must be tackled.”


Anna Gröhn
Education: MA in Media and Information Science, Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (in progress)
Hometown: Hamburg, Germany

“If disinformation distorts public opinion, democracy is in danger.”


Ashley Murray
Education: MA in Media Communication, Point Park University (graduate)
Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

“An informed citizenry is essential to democracy.”


Bastian Kaiser
Education: MA in International Affairs, Hertie School of Governance (in progress)
Hometown: Berlin, Germany

“Disinformation undermines our credibility. It’s the exact opposite of journalism.”


Daniel Wydra
Education: MA in Journalism, Mainz University (in progress)
Hometown: Mainz, Germany

“Disinformation must be defeated, it can cause rumors.”


Elfi Heinke
Education: PhD in Journalism/Communication Science, University of Passau (in progress)
Hometown: Passau, Germany

“Disinformation may lead to wrong political decisions and less trust.”


Grace King
Education: BS in Telecommunication, University of Florida (in progress)
Hometown: Miramar, Florida

“Truth is the foundation of journalism; disinformation threatens that.”


Hannah Lesch
Education: MA in Digital Communication, Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (in progress)
Hometown: Hamburg, Germany

“Everyone deserves well researched and true information.”


Hannah Wiley
Education: MA in Investigative Journalism, Northwestern University (in progress)
Hometown: Kankakee, Illinois

“Disinformation in journalism erodes democratic processes that protect liberties.”


Jazmine Hawes
Education: BS in Broadcast and Integrated Media Production, Morgan State University (graduate)
Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

“Disinformation hinders public trust of the journalistic world.”


Kaylee Fagan
Education: BA in Journalism, San Francisco State University (in progress)
Hometown: Concord, California

“Our democracy depends on our ability to agree on facts.”


Korey Matthews
Education: BS in Multimedia Journalism, Morgan State University (graduate)
Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland

“Quality journalism is something that many people rely on.”


Margaret Pfohl
Education: AB in Journalism and International Affairs, The University of Georgia (in progress)
Hometown: Warner Robins, Georgia

“Disinformation misleads the public and discredits the field of journalism.”


Marie Illner
Education: BA in Media Studies and English, Ruhr-University Bochum (in progress)
Hometown: Bochum, Germany

“Disinformation is a crucial thread as it undermines democratic principles.”


Marjan Riazi
Education: MA in Journalism, New York University (in progress)
Hometown: Minneapolis, MN

“There is no freedom or justice without truth.”


Paul Jens
Education: BA in Online Journalism, University of Applied Sciences Darmstadt (in progress)
Hometown: Darmstadt, Germany

“Disinformation can agitate people against each other.”