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Introducing the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship Award Recipients


The Fund for American Studies (TFAS) is pleased to announce the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship award recipients. Our 2018 Fellows are Tim Alberta (Novak 18) of Politico Magazine, Christine Emba (Novak 18) of The Washington Post, Curt Mills (Novak 18) of The National Interest, Kenneth R. Rosen (Novak 18) of The New York Times, freelance journalist Leah Libresco Sargeant (Novak 18) and Kari Travis (IPJ 12, Novak 18) of the Carolina Journal. These six journalists will spend one year researching and providing in-depth reporting on their chosen topics surrounding the principles of a free society. Joel B. Pollak (Novak 18) of Breitbart News was awarded an Alumni Fund Fellowship to write a series of essays on his chosen topic, “Republic of Thirst.” Please see below to learn more about each fellow and their writing projects.

The 2018 fellows were chosen from a competitive field of more than 40 highly qualified candidates representing a diverse array of national publications and outstanding freelance writers.

“Our 2018 fellows are outstanding examples of the serious, investigative and enterprising reporting that is necessary to uncover the vital stories affecting our nation,” said Daniel McCarthy, director of the Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship Program. “Novak Fellows are at the pinnacle of American journalism, appearing every day in our nation’s leading publications in print and online. The 2018 award recipients are a worthy addition to this prestigious network and I look forward to working with them in the year ahead.”

The fellowships are named for Robert D. Novak, longtime columnist, CNN broadcaster and reporter for the Associated Press and The Wall Street Journal. Since its founding in 1994, the Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship program has funded over 140 journalists to undertake long-form writing projects that they would otherwise not have the resources to complete. Novak Fellows have gone on to become leaders in their field as Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters, editors of national magazines and authors of best-selling books. Prominent fellows include The Weekly Standard Editor-in-Chief Steve Hayes (AIPES 94, Novak 00), Reason Editor-in-Chief Katherine Mangu-Ward (Novak 05)Mollie Hemingway (Novak 04) of Fox News and The Federalist, and Tim Carney (Novak 03) of the Washington Examiner.

The 2018 fellows will be honored during the 25th Annual Robert Novak Journalism Awards Dinner at the Metropolitan Club in New York City on Sept. 27, 2018. The evening will also posthumously honor Joseph Rago, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist from The Wall Street Journal, for whom a memorial fellowship has been established. For more information about the dinner and sponsorship opportunities, visit www.TFAS.org/Novak18 or contact Novak Fellowship Program Director Daniel McCarthy at dmccarthy@TFAS.org or 202-986-0384.

2018 Fellowship Recipients

Tim Alberta

Project: “The Ten-Year War: Making Sense of the Modern GOP”

Tim Alberta is chief political correspondent for Politico Magazine, covering Donald Trump’s presidency, Capitol Hill, the ideological warfare between and within the two parties, demographic change in America and the evolving role of money in elections. Alberta covered the 2016 campaign for National Review as its chief political correspondent and spent more than five years with the Atlantic Media Company. He covered Congress as House leadership reporter for National Journal and later reported on campaigns as the publication’s senior political correspondent. Previously, he served as senior editor of The Hotline, reported for The Wall Street Journal and worked as a web producer and assistant editor for Politico. Alberta’s work has been featured in dozens of other publications nationwide, including Sports Illustrated, and he frequently appears as a commentator on political television programs in the U.S. and around the world. He is a graduate of Michigan State University.

Christine Emba

Project: “Rethink Sex: A Not-So-Modest Proposal”

Originally from Richmond, Virginia and of Nigerian heritage, Christine Emba earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in public and international affairs from Princeton University. After graduating, she worked for two years as a strategy analyst before beginning a career in editorial journalism. She is currently an opinion columnist and editor at The Washington Post and previously served as a deputy editor at The Economist’s Intelligence Unit and as the Hilton Kramer Fellow in Criticism at The New Criterion. Emba was a 2017 Aspen Ideas Festival Scholar and has appeared on NPR, CNN and MSNBC. Her writing has been featured in National Review, First Things, Verily Magazine and other outlets.

Curt Mills

Project: “Knifefight: The Battle for the American Right’s Foreign Policy in the Trump Era”

Curt Mills is a native of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, where he currently resides. In 2013, he earned his bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary, where he was student body president and executive editor of a campus newspaper. He is currently the in-house reporter for The National Interest, where he covers the State Department, National Security Council and the Donald Trump presidency. He began his career at the Washington Examiner, followed by U.S. News & World Report. Today, he is a regular contributor to The Spectator and his work has appeared on Fox News and MSNBC, among other outlets.

Kenneth R. Rosen

Project: “The Unattended: A Generation Devastated by Tough Love”

Kenneth R. Rosen is a senior news assistant at The New York Times and an independent journalist covering conflict and vice around the world. He is a 2018 Livingston Award finalist in international reporting for his coverage of the Battle of Mosul in Iraq. A contributing writer at Pacific Standard magazine, he has written for Harper’s, Wired and The Atlantic, among other print and web publications. His reporting and investigations have been supported by such organizations as the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting; the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism; the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation in collaboration with John Jay’s Center on Media, Crime and Justice; the Fulbright Program; and the Carey Institute for Global Good. Rosen is a member of the Overseas Press Club, the Frontline Freelance Register, the Coalition for Women in Journalism and the Society of Professional Journalists, and acts as an ambassador for The Correspondent. Educated at Columbia University and the Savannah College of Art and Design, he is currently a Master of Arts candidate at Harvard University.

Leah Libresco Sargeant

Project: “Protest as Witness: The Counter-Cultural Culture War”

Leah Libresco Sargeant has worked as a banking policy analyst, statistics professor, data journalist and Bayesian probability instructor at an organization teaching “defensive driving for your brain.” Picking fights with the smartest wrong people she could find in the Yale Political Union led her to become Catholic. Her first book, “Arriving at Amen: Seven Catholic Prayers that Even I Can Offer,” tells the story of her conversion and her second book, “Building the Benedict Option: A Guide to Gathering Two or Three Together in His Name,” is a practical guide to building thicker Christian community. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, First Things, The Weekly Standard, The American Interest, The American Conservative, America and other outlets.

Kari L. Travis

Project: “Not for Sale: Liberty, Responsibility and the Role of Conservatism in the Fight Against Human Trafficking”

Kari Travis reports on higher education, criminal justice and transportation issues for Carolina Journal (CJ), a policy news and analysis magazine based in Raleigh, North Carolina. Her coverage of controversial protests and free speech issues across the University of North Carolina system has garnered statewide attention from lawmakers and policy activists. In 2017, Travis reported a series of high-profile articles about human trafficking in North Carolina. She also covered the North Carolina legislature’s historic fight to raise the age for juvenile offenders, who previously were prosecuted under the adult criminal justice system.

Prior to joining CJ in April 2015, Travis worked for the TFAS Institute on Political Journalism (IPJ) in Washington, D.C. and for Sells Group, a digital marketing firm in Indianapolis. While earning a Bachelor of Science degree in writing and political science at Taylor University in Indiana, she served as editor-in-chief of the college’s online and print news outlets; interned with Fox 29 News in Philadelphia; and participated in the TFAS IPJ summer program in Washington, D.C., during which she interned with Transport Topics News. Travis has received several print and digital media awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Indiana Collegiate Press Association and the Society of Professional Journalists.

2018 Alumni Fund Fellowship Recipient

Joel B. Pollak

Project: “Republic of Thirst”

Joel Pollak is senior editor-at-large and in-house counsel at Breitbart News. He was born in South Africa and raised in the Chicago suburbs. After graduating from Harvard College with high honors in social studies and environmental science and public policy, he was a Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholar in South Africa. He later served as chief speechwriter for the leader of the opposition in the South African Parliament and completed a Master of Arts degree in Jewish Studies at the University of Cape Town. Back home in the United States, he graduated from Harvard Law School and went on to work as a Research Fellow at the Hudson Institute. He ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Congress in 2010, but befriended conservative media pioneer Andrew Breitbart along the way. Pollak later joined him in Los Angeles, where they worked side by side, transforming a blog into a 24-hour news website that would change American politics. He is the author of several books, including “How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution.”


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