Winners Icoi Johnson and Samuel Vega Nominated by Community Organizations for New Chicago Public Media Fellowship Program
Chicago Public Media is proud to announce its inaugural Pritzker Fellowship winners, Icoi Johnson and Samuel Vega, who have begun an intensive nine-month professional training program, working in every aspect of public radio journalism alongside some of our nation’s most respected reporters, producers and editors. The pair was selected from a pool of 68 candidates – all non-radio professionals from under-represented communities - nominated by some 74 not-for-profit organizations.
Launched earlier this year to discover a diverse new generation of public media talent, the Pritzker Fellowship program seeks “fresh, new perspectives” by those not practicing journalism, are interested in the world around them, are effective at communication, and show a high level of interest advocating for others.
Icoi Johnson, 27, was nominated by the Marillac Social Center in Garfield Park, where over a 15-year span, she started as an after school student and grew to becoming an employee and now a valued tutor and role model. An avid writer and self-proclaimed “news junkie,” after attending Illinois State University, Johnson received her Master of Arts (Writing for Young People) at Bath Spa University in Bath, England, in 2007. She recently completed an internship with The Cara Program as a development intern within their fundraising department.
Samuel Vega, 20, was nominated by the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, where as a young teen, he quickly emerged as a leader in the organization’s youth program, Café Teatro Batey Urbano. In addition to founding Radio Batey there and serving as a mentor to other young people in the Batey Urbano Collective, he is currently a radio program instructor at the Barrio Arts Culture & Communication Academy and works at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre.
The Pritzker Fellowship’s hands-on instruction at WBEZ 91.5FM includes production and editorial skills, reporting and on-air experience, writing for the air and the web, and multi-media production skills. The two Pritzker Fellows will each receive a competitive stipend, plus full health benefits.
A unique qualification, all candidates were required to be nominated for The Pritzker Fellowships by community-based, not-for-profit organizations, including but not limited to neighborhood, religious or social institutions.
“We were humbled by the positive community response to the call for Pritzker Fellow candidates, and heard from community leaders from around our city, each recommending with great passion these promising new voices,” said Torey Malatia, president and CEO of Chicago Public Media. “We saw in Icoi Johnson and Samuel Vega a drive to excel and to tell the stories of our community in the most professional way possible.”
Funded by the Chicago-based Pritzker Foundation, two Pritzker Fellowships will be awarded annually to individuals who are non-radio professionals from communities underrepresented in public media. Chicago Public Media will begin accepting nominations for the next Fellows in March 2011.
Chicago Public Media is an institution that creates award-winning content for people seeking to learn more about the issues and ideas that affect our community, our nation, and our world. Chicago Public Media produces programs such as This American Life, Sound Opinions, Wait, Wait...Don’t Tell Me! (a co-production with NPR), Eight Forty-Eight, Worldview, and Radio M. It operates WBEZ 91.5 FM, one of the country’s premiere public radio stations, and Vocalo 89.5 FM, an experimental web/radio service that seeks to expand the reach of public media.
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