Elyssa Rosen Mentoring Fellows Share Their Conference Experience


The mentee and mentor pairs below were the winners of the 2014 Elyssa Rosen Memorial Mentoring Program Fund, which funded travel costs for the mentee-mentor pairs to meet up at SEJ's 24th Annual Conference in New Orleans.



Mentee and Mentor:


Abbey Dufoe and Matthew Wheeland

"I learned that the journalism world needs people like me who are adept at many skills, including web design, print/tablet design, blogging, social media promotion and editing on top of writing. The experience has given me a chance to reflect on and share some of the big-picture lessons I've learned over the years, as well as to get a ground-level view of what starting journalists are learning and doing, both at J-School and in the workforce."


Allie Wilkinson and Dawn Stover

"It was great to match faces with names I knew only from bylines, mastheads and websites. Boating through the Atchafalaya Basin and walking in the Barataria Preserve swamp were welcome chances to see Louisiana wildlife and talk with local residents. Thinking back on the recent conversations I have had with Allie, I realize that she is mentoring me, too. Unlike many people in my own age bracket, she isn’t whining about the state of journalism; she’s forging ahead and taking advantage of tools that didn’t even exist a few years ago. This year both of us plan to step beyond our comfort zones. For Allie, that means tackling some big feature articles; for me, it means taking a deeper dive into the digital world with projects such as building a website."


Amy Mathews Amos and Valerie Brown

"Amy had lurked for months on the SEJ-Freelance listserv, absorbing everything she could about the culture, ethics and business of being a freelance environmental journalist. When she needed more direct advice and emotional support, she turned to SEJ’s mentoring program."


Amy Nordrum and John Platt

"In New Orleans, I was reminded that the media tend to give less attention to southern issues unless they are of national significance. After noting this and returning to New York City, I reported and wrote a story on wild pigs — which are largely concentrated in the south — for Scientific American. The conference challenged me to look for topics and stories that originate in places far from the nation’s media centers — a habit that I think can set me apart as an enterprising reporter."


Jillian Keenan and Michelle Nijhuis

"Great mentors are an invaluable — but rare — resource for early-career Millennials, such as myself, and meeting Michelle was the highlight of my time at the New Orleans conference."


Kasey Rahn and Laura Paskus

"Meeting my mentee face-to-face made me realize it’s hard to look young journalists in the eye and tell them there’s a sustainable future for them in this field. No matter how smart and hardworking my mentee is — and no matter how many fellowships, grants, and internships she tackles, doors she nudges open, or weekends she works — the reality is that after she graduates, she and her peers will have a hard time finding work that pays a sustainable wage and provides long-term security."


Kelsey Dayton and Sally Deneen

"Freelancing is a solo job that’s dependent on other people. It’s all about networking, building a support system of like-minded journalists and getting face-time with editors who will buy your work. As soon as they finished their coffee, Sally started introducing Kelsey to everyone she knew."


Kendra Pierre-Louis and Erica Gies

"Erica provided Kendra with guidance on how to navigate the conference to get the most out it, from connecting with editors, to mining the conference sessions for article ideas. The freelance pitch slam offered Kendra the opportunity to see how editors think in real time. The result has been sharper, better crafted pitches, and more chutzpah. Spending time with editors during meals and events helped Kendra to feel less intimidated when pitching them."


Morgan Robinson and Peter Thomson

"I was able to make significant strides on a project I'm working on about climate change and public health. At the conference I met Linda Marsa, an acclaimed journalist and the author of "Fevered, Why a Hotter Planet Will Hurt Our Health." Linda's work is very impressive and connecting with her has been a game changer for me in my knowledge of the topic."


Shreya Dasgupta and Rhitu Chatterjee

"India has few science and environmental journalists, and there are hardly any opportunities for the small community to meet and get acquainted. I hope to be able to apply what I learned about New Orleans’ rebuilding efforts to stories about coastal cities in India, as well as in neighboring Bangladesh."


William Funk and Dan Ferber

"The SEJ conference itself, aside from its dazzling display of talent, learning opportunities and cutting-edge subject matter, was a revelation in that it put me side by side (and elbow by elbow) with successful people who were doing precisely what I am aiming for myself: providing the public with an imaginative education in the manifold and increasingly manifest harms we are perpetuating on our overcrowded, overexploited planet."