Philadelphia Media Network (PMN), publisher of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com is pleased to announce the selection of six emerging journalists for its inaugural class of Lenfest Journalism Fellowships. The two-year fellowship program is funded by The Lenfest Institute for Journalism and is aimed at diversifying both the newsroom and coverage provided to PMN readers.

The Lenfest Institute made a $650,000 grant to PMN to support the two-year program. Thanks to the grant, the fellows will be fully immersed as full-time newsroom staff. They will help broaden PMN’s coverage of the region, provide added digital storytelling capability, and engage new and more diverse audiences. In addition to their full-time assignments as journalists, they will all have mentors, participate in regular seminars and work on a fellows-only product development project designed to bring more younger readers to PMN’s news platforms.

“We knew that the inaugural class of six Lenfest Fellows needed to be exceptional journalists steeped in digital storytelling and ready to make an impact from day one,” said Mike Days, PMN’s Editor for Reader Engagement and Vice President who led the nation-wide search. “This inaugural dream team is exceptional. They are emerging journalists of color who understand that our stories must reach readers wherever they gather in the digital world, and they are already equipped to do so.”

The inaugural class, chosen from over 130 applicants, includes: Kristen Balderas of the University of Texas-Austin, Jesenia De Moya Correa of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, TyLisa Johnson of the Florida A&M University, Heather Khalifa of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Aneri Pattani of WNYC and DeArbea Walker of Syracuse University.

“These six outstanding journalists not only displayed the core essentials of strong reporting and writing, but also a mastery of such a wide array of digital reporting tools critical to our mission,”  said Stan Wischnowski, Executive Editor and Senior Vice President of PMN. “For that reason, we’re as excited about the prospects of learning from each of them as we are about providing each with a high degree of mentorship.”

“We are delighted to fund the Lenfest Journalism Fellowship program and to assist in the career development of this diverse and talented group of emerging journalists,” said Jim Friedlich, Executive Director of The Lenfest Institute for Journalism. “In keeping with Gerry Lenfest’s mission, and thanks to his generosity, we will to continue to support Philadelphia as a national magnet for talent, diversity and innovation in local journalism.”