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The Stanford Journalism and Democracy Initiative team spans several departments and programs at the university, with participants ranging from journalists and academic researchers to computer programmers and digital library curators.

Maneesh Agrawala

JDI co-founder and director of the Brown Institute for Media Innovation

Maneesh Agrawala is the Forest Baskett Professor of Computer Science and director of the Brown Institute for Media Innovation at Stanford. He works on computer graphics, human computer interaction and visualization. His focus is on investigating how cognitive design principles can be used to improve the effectiveness of audio/visual media. The goals of this work are to discover the design principles and then instantiate them in both interactive and automated design tools. He received an Okawa Foundation Research Grant (2006), an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship (2007), an NSF CAREER Award (2007), a SIGGRAPH Significant New Researcher Award (2008), a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (2009), and an Allen Distinguished Investigator Award (2014).

Krishna Bharat

JDI co-founder

Krishna Bharat, a Distinguished Research Scientist at Google, is the founder of Google News. The automated news service aggregates more than 50,000 sources, with 72 editions in over 30 languages. Google News won the 2003 Webby Award in the news category, and Bharat received the 2003 World Technology Award for Media & Journalism. In 2004 he founded Google’s R&D operations in India and served as the center’s first director until 2006. Before joining Google in 1999, he was a member of the research staff at DEC Systems Research Center in Palo Alto. He holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Georgia Institute of Technology.

R.B. Brenner

 JDI managing director and Stanford lecturer

R.B. Brenner is a Lecturer in the Department of Communication and managing director of the Stanford Journalism and Democracy Initiative. He returned to Stanford in 2018 after four years at the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a tenured full professor and director of the School of Journalism. He had been a Stanford Lecturer from 2010 to 2014. His teaching is informed by a three-decade career as a reporter and editor. He held several prominent editing positions at The Washington Post.

Heather Bryant

JDI website developer

Heather Bryant is the JDI Website developer. She is the founder of Project Facet, an open source software platform that helps newsrooms manage the collaborative editorial process. As a journalist and software developer she is focused on the intersection between journalism and technology and class. In 2016-2017, she was a JSK Journalism Fellow at Stanford where she explored collaborative journalism. She also researches and writes about the intersection of journalism and poverty. She previously worked at KTOO Public Media in Juneau, Alaska as the digital services editor.

Marnette Federis

Stanford Journalism Program manager

Marnette Federis is the program administrator for Stanford’s Journalism Program and managing editor for the student publication, Peninsula Press. Before coming to Stanford, Marnette worked as digital editor and video producer in various newsrooms including Capital Public Radio in Sacramento, KGTV/ABC 10 News in San Diego and the Bay Area News Group in San Jose. She holds a master’s degree in journalism and her work has been published by the Seattle Times, Reuters, The Washington Post and Public Radio International.

Dawn E. Garcia

JDI co-founder and director of the JSK Journalism Fellowships

Dawn E. Garcia is the director of the John S. Knight (JSK) Journalism Fellowships at Stanford University. Garcia helped transform the JSK Fellowships from a sabbatical model to one that coaches and challenges fellows to become leaders to reinvent journalism in the digital age. She began her career as a reporter and editor at West Coast newspapers, including the San Jose Mercury News and the San Francisco Chronicle, where she wrote about politics, immigration and legal affairs. She is a past president of the Journalism & Women Symposium, a national nonprofit organization that supports the professional empowerment and personal growth of women in journalism. She served on four Pulitzer Prize juries in journalism and on advisory boards championing First Amendment rights, the journalism tech community and quality journalism education. She earned a Master of Liberal Arts at Stanford and a bachelor’s degree in journalism at the University of Oregon. She was a JSK Fellow in 1991-92.

Ann Grimes

Journalism Fellowship Director of the Starling Lab for Data Integrity at Stanford 

Ann Grimes is director of the Starling Lab for Data Integrity at Stanford University. Previously, she was associate director of the Brown Institute for Media Innovation at Stanford and, before that, director of Stanford’s Graduate Program in Journalism. As a journalist, she held senior editorial positions at The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. She is the author of a presidential campaign book “Running Mates,” (William Morrow & Co., 1990). Ann holds a master’s degree from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s from Georgetown. She was a JSK Fellow in 1997-1998.

James T. Hamilton

JDI co-founder and director of the Stanford Journalism Program

James T. Hamilton is the Hearst Professor of Communication, chair of the Department of Communication, and director of the Journalism Program at Stanford. His books on media markets include “All the News That’s Fit to Sell: How the Market Transforms Information into News” (Princeton, 2004) and “Channeling Violence: The Economic Market for Violent Television Programming” (Princeton, 1998). His most recent book, “Democracy’s Detectives: The Economics of Investigative Journalism” (Harvard, 2016), focuses on the market for investigative reporting. Through research in the field of computational journalism, he is exploring how the costs of story discovery can be lowered through better use of data and algorithms. Current work also focuses on how people use information to search for work and on the information lives of low-income individuals. Hamilton is co-founder of the Stanford Computational Journalism Lab, Senior Fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, affiliated faculty at the Brown Institute for Media Innovation, and member of the JSK Fellowships Board of Visitors.

Justin Mayo

Senior data journalist, Big Local News

Justin Mayo is a senior data journalist with Big Local News. He comes to Stanford after 20 years with the Seattle Times, primarily working with the paper’s investigative team.  Mayo’s work at the Seattle Times has garnered numerous awards including the Selden Ring Award for investigative reporting and an IRE Investigative Award. He was part of the team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2015 for breaking news reporting during the landslide in Oso, Wash., that killed 43 people. He also contributed to a series that exposed the state of Washington’s financially motivated practice of prescribing a deadly pain drug for people in state-subsidized health care. That project won the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting in 2012.

Dilcia Mercedes

Big Local News contributor

Dilcia Mercedes (they/them) is a data journalist and developer interested in building tools for newsrooms. Dilcia holds a master’s degree from the Graduate Program in Journalism at Stanford University and holds a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Anthropology from Swarthmore College. They have interned as a junior developer at Reveal | from the Center of Investigative Reporting. Dilcia has been working as a data journalist for Big Local News since fall 2019. Initially their interest in journalism stemmed from wanting accurate data for various research projects. Dilcia’s interests have since expanded into data wrangling and analysis. Dilcia also is interested in finding and reporting stories from places like the Bronx, where stories are rich but the resources and tools to tell those stories are not always available. They are researching sustainable revenue models for news organizations and how data can play a role in addressing the collapse of the advertising models for online media. Their other interests include multimedia journalism, trying to fly drones, music, learning about new APIs and the arts.

Cheryl Phillips

Big Local News project director and Lorry I. Lokey Visiting Professor in Professional Journalism

Cheryl Phillips has been teaching journalism at Stanford since 2014. Most recently, she founded Big Local News. She also is a co-founder of The Stanford Open Policing Project, a cross-departmental effort to collect police interaction data and evaluate racial disparities. And she is a founding member of the California Civic Data Coalition, an effort to make California campaign finance data accessible. Previously, she worked at The Seattle Times for 12 years. Her roles included serving as data innovation editor, deputy investigations editor, assistant metro editor and investigative reporter. In 2014, she was involved in coverage of a landslide that killed 43 people, which received a Pulitzer Prize for breaking news. In 2009, she was the lone editor in the newsroom when four police officers were shot at a coffee shop and was integrally involved in the subsequent coverage, which received a Pulitzer Prize for breaking news. She has twice been on teams that were Pulitzer finalists. She has worked at USA Today and at newspapers in Michigan, Montana and Texas. She served for 10 years on the board of Investigative Reporters and Editors and is a former board president.

Regina Roberts

Big Local News project collaborator 

Regina Lee Roberts is a collection development librarian at Stanford University Libraries. Utilizing the Stanford Digital Repository (SDR), Roberts is currently working with colleagues and faculty to develop methods and sustainable means of archiving and preserving data collected by researchers and journalists in order to support evidence-based research and reporting. Roberts also designs learner-centered library workshops infused with course specific content and research design strategies. Her subject area responsibilities include: Anthropology & Archaeology; Communication & Journalism; Feminist Studies and Lusophone Africa. She holds an MLIS from San Jose State and an MA from Stanford University.

Eric Sagara

Senior data journalist, Big Local News

Eric Sagara is a visiting senior data journalist with the Big Local News Project and part of the JSK Fellowships Impact Partnership with Big Local News. He was the senior data reporter for Reveal at the Center for Investigative Reporting prior to coming to Stanford. He was also a news applications fellow at ProPublica where he worked on projects about pharmaceutical payments to doctors, deadly force in police agencies and the trail of guns in the United States. Prior to that, he was a reporter on The Newark Star-Ledger’s data team. Sagara is originally from Arizona, where he reported on business, education, crime, wildfires and government.

Serdar Tumgoren

Big Local News associate director-tools and Lorry I. Lokey Visiting Professor in Professional Journalism

Serdar Tumgoren joins Stanford after five years at The Associated Press, where he worked as a data journalist and lead news applications developer. He previously worked at The Washington Post and Congressional Quarterly, where he focused on political and election-related data and Web applications. A graduate of Georgetown University, Serdar began his career as a local government reporter in California, Connecticut, and New Jersey. Serdar is passionate about open source tools and platforms that help journalists uncover data-driven stories. He co-founded the OpenElections project, a volunteer effort to gather and standardize U.S. election data, and created datakit, a customizable tool to help journalists simplify and standardize their data analysis workflows.

Ben Welsh

Big Local News visiting senior data journalist

Ben Welsh is a visiting Los Angeles Times journalist leading an expansion of the Big Local News initiative. Projects he’s contributed to have been awarded The Pulitzer Prize, the Library of Congress’ Innovation Award, a Knight News Challenge grant and numerous other prizes for investigative reporting, digital design and online journalism.

Janine Zacharia

Carlos Kelly McClatchy Lecturer at Stanford

Janine Zacharia has reported on Israel, the Middle East and U.S. foreign policy for close to two decades. She served as Jerusalem Bureau Chief for the Washington Post, chief diplomatic correspondent for Bloomberg News, Washington bureau chief for the Jerusalem Post, and Jerusalem correspondent for Reuters. She appears regularly on cable news shows and radio programs as a Middle East analyst.