Local journalist wins the first American Mosaic Journalism Prize
Jan. 24, 2018
Valeria Fernandez, a local freelance journalist, won the first American Mosaic Journalism Prize, taking home $100,000 for her work with immigration and diversity stories.
According to the Heising-Simons Foundation, “The American Mosaic Journalism Prize is awarded for excellence in long-form, narrative, or deep reporting on stories about underrepresented and/or misrepresented groups in the present American landscape.” A journalist has to be nominated in order to win the award. Fernandez says she had people following her work closely for the last year as they were making the decision on who will win.
The stories Fernandez is known for chasing typically have something to do with immigration. She’s worked into finding the effects of deportation – how it effects the individual, family, community. She also has written how immigration can have effects on mental illness.
Fernandez says she has stayed very connected and grounded in the community since writing for Arizona’s Spanish paper, La Voz. It takes courage to tell personal stories dealing with immigration, the Uruguay immigrant says. In her experience, she says she spends a lot of time talking and getting to know the people because that will help them feel more comfortable about opening up.
The spotlight on freelancers and independent journalists is also something worth applauding, according to Fernandez. She says freelancers are what make up the majority of newsrooms, and they are people worthy of recognition.
Fernandez says she will continue working on stories that she thinks matter. For more information about Fernandez, read her bio on the Heising-Simons website.