The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Summer
Reporting Project was a quarter-long enterprise reporting capstone in the Chicago and Washington newsrooms of The Medill School at Northwestern University in 2014. Student reporters examined the impact of the 50-year-old law, aimed at rectifying discriminatory practices against minorities and women in public accommodations. Because reporting opportunities were vast, the quarter focused on workplace discrimination, housing and technology.
This course took a fresh look at what the act has accomplished and what it failed to address – what are today’s and tomorrow’s civil rights battles, like those of undocumented Americans, the LBGT community, the disabled, etc., with a concentration on workplace remedies, housing outcomes and the digital divide.
Students cast a wide net to report on the people, policies and data points that paint a true picture of the impact of the act — how it has worked, and where it falls short in terms of not being fully implemented or perhaps outliving its original intention given the changing face of America. For example, while the act was originally aimed at remedying discrimination aimed at racial/ethnic minorities, it is widely acknowledged to have equalized the playing field for women in a major way. Reporting considerations were made to address these impacts.
This capstone was executive produced by co-directors Deborah Douglas and Ellen Shearer, with Ava Greenwell and Michael Deas.
Who we are
Natasha S. Alford is a multimedia journalist with a background in education. A native of Syracuse, New York, Alford started her career in education, eventually serving as a middle school English teacher (Teach For America D.C. Corps ’10) and education advocate. Alford graduated from Harvard University in 2008 with a social studies degree. While attending Medill, she was a 2014 Meredith-Cronkite Fellow. Currently, she works
as a general assignment reporter at CBS affiliate WROC-TV in Rochester,
Robin Amer, an award-winning, Chicago-based reporter who covers housing, real estate and urban planning. Her work has appeared on WBEZ 91.5 FM, WTTW Channel 11, “Marketplace,” The Architect’s Newspaper and other outlets, and has been recognized by the Society for Professional Journalists and the Chicago Headline Club. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude from Brown University with a degree in art semiotics and is a McCormick Scholar. In September, she joins the investigative team at Medill Watchdog as a postgraduate fellow.
Dima Ansari reported for the Medill News in Service in Washington, focusing on the importance of language in the news and the use of negative stereotypes. Previously, Ansari was a communications intern at the Council on American-Islamic Relations. In September, she will travel to Israel to meet government officials and journalists.
Caroline Cataldo is a multimedia journalist who specializes in audio storytelling. She is the product of a Jesuit education at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, and focuses much of her work on social justice issues. Cataldo’s work profiling a women’s drug treatment center, reported while she was a McCormick Social Justice Fellow, was featured on WBEZ 91.5 FM and Vocalo 90.7 FM in Chicago. She is a 2014 White House Correspondents’ Association recipient of a Deborah Orin Scholarship.
Taryn Galbreath worked at the Chicago Sun-Times and broadcast affiliates of the Tribune Media Group. She performed as a producer and floor director for a local talk show airing on NBC-Nonstop. Her published work can be found in USA Today, the Chicago Defender and Chicago Crusader. Galbreath is a 2014 White House Correspondents’ Association recipient of a Deborah Orin Scholarship.
Mauricio Peña worked with at-risk youth in Los Angeles and Camp Kilpatrick Detention Center in California. After graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles, Peña worked as a probation officer at the District of Columbia Superior Court in the Juvenile Intake Division. He is a McCormick Scholar and a McCormick Social Justice fellow.
Jenn Stanley is a multimedia journalist who focuses on public affairs reporting. In her stories, she aims to put a human face on polarizing issues. Before coming to Medill, she was a publisher’s representative on the Criminal Justice, Sociology and Psychology list at an academic publisher.
Jillian D. Turner brings years of experience working in information
technology consulting and a passion for long-form storytelling to report
on business, technology and telecommunications. After completing her master’s degree in journalism in August, Turner will work as a reporter in Cape Town, South Africa as part of Medill’s global residency program.