Four Reporters Win McGraw Business Reporting Grants

  • By CUNY J-School Staff

Four veteran journalists have won grants of up to $15,000 as recipients of the sixth round of the McGraw Fellowships for Business Journalism.

The winning projects will explore water rights on the Mexican border, the revival of the copper industry in Arizona, the foreclosure risks faced by elderly homeowners, and the prospects for carbon capture.

The McGraw Fellowships, an initiative of the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Center for Business Journalism at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, were created in 2014 to support ambitious coverage of critical issues related to the U.S. economy and business.

Nearly 100 journalists working in more than half-a-dozen countries applied for the latest round of Fellowships – our largest pool ever.

The new McGraw Fellows are:

  • Jenifer McKim: A senior investigative reporter for The Eye at the Boston-based New England Center for Investigative Reporting, McKim will use her Fellowship to delve into issues surrounding elderly homeowners facing foreclosure across the United States.

McKim has long written about debt and social issues for media organizations, including the Boston Globe and the Orange County Register.  In 2011, she received a Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism for a story on domestic sex trafficking of minors. She also headed a team that exposed lead tainting in imported Mexican candies, a series that was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize in Public Service.

  • Akshat Rathi: A London-based reporter for Quartz, Rathi’s Fellowship project will focus on carbon capture technology, an industry that has promised for decades to help stem the world’s carbon-dioxide emissions problem, but which has consistently failed to deliver—that is, until now. A confluence of circumstances—the Paris agreement on climate change, some critical projects being undertaken by a handful of corporations and governments, and key technological advances—may mean that carbon capture is finally ready for prime time.

Rathi’s work explores the intersection of science and society. He previously worked at The Economist and The Conversation and his stories have appeared in The Guardian, Ars Technica, Nature, and The Hindu. He graduated with a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Oxford and a bachelor’s in chemical engineering from the Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai. 

  • Ana Arana and Mort Rosenblum: Arana, a visiting scholar at the University of Arizona School of Journalism, and Rosenblum, an independent reporter, author and educator, will team up to examine the economic and environmental implications of the renewed growth in copper mining in Arizona and beyond.

An award-winning investigative journalist with extensive international experience, Arana is the former director of Fundacion MEPI, an investigative journalism project that operated in Mexico City from 2010-2015. Arana has completed projects in partnership with ProPublica, The Center for Investigative Reporting and various dailies in Mexico and Central America. She is a recipient of a Peabody award for her work on “Finding Oscar” an investigation of a 1982 army massacre in a Guatemalan village and a boy who survived, two Overseas Press Club awards, and a regional Edward R. Morrow Award, among others.

 Rosenblum, a former editor of the International Herald Tribune and Special Correspondent for the Associated Press, has covered breaking news and written investigative stories on geopolitics, economics and the environment from around the globe for more than four decades. An eight-time nominee for the Pulitzer Prize, he has received an Overseas Press Club Hal Boyle Award, top AP honors, and a James Beard Award for his book, OLIVES: The Life and Lore of a Noble Fruit. The author of 17 books, Rosenblum’s work has run in Vanity Fair, Foreign Affairs, the New York Review of Books, Nouvel Observateur, the New York Times Magazine and others. He teaches international reporting each spring at the University of Arizona.

  • Lauren Villagran: An award-winning journalist who has covered the borderlands and the U.S.-Mexico relationship for more than a decade, Villagran will use the Fellowship to examine bilateral water issues – specifically, the future of a deep underground aquifer that straddles the U.S.-Mexico border. Unlike the internationally governed waters of the Rio Grande, groundwater is not subject to bilateral agreements, leaving the U.S. and Mexico to jockey for a precious resource that is critical to both nations’ economic development.

A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Villagran has covered the financial markets in New York, the drug war in Mexico and Latin America, and immigration and border security in New Mexico. She is based in southern New Mexico for the Albuquerque Journal.

Each McGraw Fellow receives a stipend of up to $5,000 a month for three months. In addition to financial backing, the McGraw Center provides Fellows with editorial support and, where needed, assistance placing stories with media outlets.

Applications for McGraw Fellowships are considered twice a year, in the spring and the fall. The next deadline for proposals is May 31, 2017. For more information and the online application, go to