Marquette University News Release

Five journalists to join the Perry and Alicia O’Brien Fellowship in Public Service Journalism

April 19, 2018

The J. William and Mary Diederich College of Communication announced today that five journalists will join the Perry and Alicia O’Brien Fellowship in Public Service Journalism in August.

The incoming fellows for the 2018–19 academic year are (click on the fellows’ names to view their work):

The 2018–19 fellows plan multimedia investigations into concerns about environmental protection, criminal justice, education and electoral participation. Resulting from an $8.3 million gift announced in 2013, the O’Brien Fellowship program has enabled 18 journalists to produce in-depth public-service journalism projects for their home news organizations or other outlets.

In residence at Marquette, O’Brien Fellows integrate graduate and undergraduate students into their projects as reporting interns and research assistants. This gives students first-hand experience alongside a veteran journalist, and the potential of a university-sponsored summer internship at one of the newsrooms.

“We are pleased to welcome such a strong class of journalists to Johnston Hall,” said Dr. Kimo Ah Yun, dean of the Diederich College of Communication. “The incoming O’Brien Fellows have diverse backgrounds and expertise in podcast, video, print and data journalism. I’m confident that our students will greatly benefit from working with them. We’re excited to welcome them.”

The current class of O’Brien Fellows includes Gary Harki, an investigative reporter at The Virginian-Pilot; independent journalist Eben Pindyck; Erin Richards, education reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; and Andrew Soth, public affairs producer at Wisconsin Public Television.

Past O’Brien Fellows have hailed from The Arizona Republic, The Baltimore Sun, the Naples Daily News, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Star Tribune in Minneapolis, The Seattle Times and the Journal Sentinel. The program also has supported independent journalists.

O’Brien Fellowship projects have had impact and earned national journalism awards. Most recently, 2016–17 Fellow Maria Perez was awarded the George Polk Award for Immigration Reporting for an investigation into the practices of Florida companies that hire undocumented workers for dangerous jobs and then refuse to compensate them for their injuries. Since her story was published by the Naples Daily News, Florida lawmakers have proposed legislation to rectify the practice.

2015–16 O’Brien Fellow Miranda Spivack recently received the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sunshine Award at the Excellence in Journalism Conference for her O’Brien Fellowship project, State Secrets. And Justin George, another 2015–16 fellow, won several awards for “Shoot to Kill,” his O’Brien project.

As part of the fellowship, the journalists regularly visit classes to share perspectives and expertise about reporting and their chosen topic.

More than 60 Marquette students have spent at least a semester helping an O’Brien Fellow. Most have traveled on reporting and research trips with fellows across Milwaukee and Wisconsin; to states such as California, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon and Texas; and to Belgium, China, Peru and Brazil.

Residential O’Brien Fellows typically return to their newsrooms with a summer intern from Marquette. Senior Rebecca Carballo will join Gary Harki at The Pilot. Graduate students Diana Dombrowski and Julie Grace will intern at the Journal Sentinel and Wisconsin Public Television in Madison, respectively.

“We have 17 students ready to get to work with the new class of fellows,” said O’Brien Director Dave Umhoefer. “We’re excited to see what these teams will uncover.”

Contact Brian Dorrington in the Office of Marketing and Communication at (414) 288-4719, with questions.

About Brian Dorrington


Brian Dorrington

Brian is the senior director of university communication in the Office of Marketing and Communication. Contact Brian at (414) 288-4719 or brian.dorrington@marquette.edu. View all posts by .