First UNITY Reporting Fellowship Awarded


Media Contact:

Roberto Quinones
Executive Director
UNITY: Journalists for Diversity

melanieMcLean, Va., June 23, 2014 –The first-ever UNITY Reporting Fellowship has been awarded to University of Maryland, Merrill College of Journalism graduate Melanie Balakit ’14.

Created based on feedback from the successful diversity caucus convened by the UNITY board earlier this year, and supported by funding from the Ford Foundation, this fellowship allows a college student to develop immersive multimedia and cross-cultural reporting skills by attending five diverse journalism conventions this summer.

“Our board is grateful to all our co-sponsoring partners who will integrate Melanie within their own conference fellowship programs, for a unique experience in the field,” said David Steinberg, UNITY president.

As the UNITY Reporting fellow, Balakit will cover the Asian American Journalists Association, the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the Native American Journalists Association, and the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, with travel and hotel accommodations provided.

“We’re very pleased that Merrill College graduate Melanie Balakit is UNITY’s first fellow,” said Dean Lucy Dalglish. “She is a wonderful representative of our undergraduate program and we know she will do us proud covering these conventions.”

Balakit will participate in convention training that will include interactive online courses in interviewing, multimedia, ethics, and visual and audio techniques. A group of skilled journalists and media professionals will act as mentors and guide her during each convention. “She will also be given assignments between conventions to cover issues related to the journalism industry and current concerns within the diverse communities represented by the sponsoring UNITY organizations,” said UNITY Executive Director Roberto Quinones.

As a senior, Balakit worked for the Capital News Service’s Annapolis Bureau on consumer-affair issues. During her time at the University of Maryland, Melanie also served as a multimedia intern at the Baltimore Sun and was a co-editor-in-chief of the campus publication La Voz Latina. After graduation, she has been working as a freelance journalist for the Prince George’s Sentinel.

UNITY: JOURNALISTS FOR DIVERSITY is an organization dedicated to leadership in the following: amplifying voices and uniting industry groups and leaders to create a more diverse media landscape; advocating fair and accurate news coverage about diversity; and driving change with industry leaders to staff media organizations at all levels to reflect the nation’s diversity. UNITY is an alliance of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA), the Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) and the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA).

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