Home » News » TFAS Welcomes Leading Early-Career Journalists to 2020-21 Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship

TFAS Welcomes Leading Early-Career Journalists to 2020-21 Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship


The Fund for American Studies (TFAS) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2020-21 Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship. The five selected journalists include Christian Britschgi, Tara Burton, Dimitri Simes, Lyman Stone and Julia Yost. Charles McElwee will also join the cohort as the recipient of the John Farley Memorial Alumni Fund Fellowship, which was renamed early this year to honor TFAS friend and former colleague, the late John Farley.

The annual Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship provides early-career journalists with the opportunity to pursue year-long projects on topics surrounding the principles of a free society through both partial and fully-funded grants. Director of the Fellowship, Dan McCarthy, believes that this year’s program comes at a time in our nation when protecting honest and fact-based journalism is crucial.

“The Novak Fellowships are a source of hope and renewal at a time when American journalism is in crisis,” McCarthy said. “Young journalists with a commitment to reporting the facts face a daunting environment, but the Novak program is a lifeline. In the spirit of Robert Novak himself, our fellows tell truth to power and uncover stories that are too often overlooked or misunderstood.”

The Novak Fellowships are a source of hope and renewal at a time when American journalism is in crisis. Young journalists with a commitment to reporting the facts face a daunting environment, but the Novak program is a lifeline. In the spirit of Robert Novak himself, our fellows tell truth to power and uncover stories that are too often overlooked or misunderstood.” – Dan McCarthy, Director of the Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship.

This year’s projects will focus on an array of topics related to critical current events and world issues, ranging from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic to U.S. foreign relations with Russia. McCarthy says these pursuits will allow Fellows to tell important stories about the obstacles that our world faces each day.

“These men and women are ready to look behind the headlines and discover the deeper currents in American life and politics,” McCarthy said. “Whether they’re looking at how public policy frustrates Americans’ preference for larger families or how the government has used COVID-19 as a pretext for permanent expansion, our fellows are finding the facts that tell the real story about the challenges we face.”

The 2020-21 Robert Novak Journalism Fellows will be formally announced during the TFAS Journalism Awards Ceremony on Nov. 18, 2020, and details will be provided soon. During the event, TFAS will also introduce the 2020 Joseph Rago Memorial Fellow for Excellence in Journalism, Alessandra Bocchi.

To learn more about the event, please visit TFAS.org/JournalismDinner20.

2020-21 Fellowship Recipients


Project: Coronavirus and Leviathan
Current City: Washington, D.C.

Christian Britschgi graduated from Portland State University in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. After college, he moved into a career in public relations, while also writing freelance news articles for The College Fix and The Lens.

Since 2017, he’s worked as an editor at Reason, where he writes about housing, transportation, regulation and plastic straw bans. In his free time, Christian enjoys reading science fiction novels and listening to heavy metal music. He lives in Washington, D.C.


Project: Miniature Gods: Why We Cannot Create Ourselves (and Why We Keep Trying, Anyway)
Current City: New York, New York

Tara Isabella Burton is the author of “Strange Rites: New Religions for a Godless World,” and the novel “Social Creature,” published in 2018. She has written on religion and culture for The New York Times, National Geographic, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal.

Her fiction has appeared in Granta, Volume 1 Brooklyn, The New Yorker’s Daily Shouts, Tor.com, and PANK, among other places. She received a doctorate in theology from Trinity College, Oxford, where she was a Clarendon Scholar in 2017. She was previously the staff religion writer at Vox.com.


Project: The Grand Coalition? Russia and China against the United States
Current City: Washington, D.C.

Dimitri Alexander Simes is a freelance journalist whose writing on international affairs has appeared in The Daily Caller, Nikkei Asian Review, The National Interest, CNSNews and The Spectator. Dimitri’s work has also been republished or cited by The Financial Times, Yahoo News, Forbes, RealClearWorld and Fox News.

As part of his reporting, Dimitri has interviewed policymakers, leading experts, businesspeople, and ordinary citizens from the United States, Russia, China, India, Turkey, Ukraine and Belarus. Dimitri graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 2019.


Project: As Many As I Want: Restoring Individual Preferences to Population Policymaking
Current City: Montreal, Quebec

Lyman Stone is a researcher focused on family, childbearing and how social and economic changes impact population. He is a research fellow at the Institute for Family Studies, an adjunct fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and chief information officer of the population consulting firm, Demographic Intelligence. He has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Boston Globe, South China Morning Post, The Federalist, National Review, Vox, Salon, the Daily Caller, First Things and Christianity Today.

Lyman also worked as an international economist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and as an economist for the Tax Foundation. He, his wife, and their daughter previously worked as missionaries in Hong Kong, but are now based in Montreal, Quebec, as Lyman pursues a doctorate of demography at McGill University. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, and a master’s degree in international trade and investment from the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.


Project: The New Normlessness: Scandal in a Time of Uncertainty
Current City: New York, New York

Julia Yost is senior editor of First Things, to which she also contributes literary and cultural criticism. She grew up in Pennsylvania and holds degrees in English and creative writing from Penn State University, Yale University, and Washington University in St. Louis. She lives in New York with her husband and two sons.



John Farley Memorial Alumni Fund Fellow

Charles McElwee

Project: Pennsylvania: A Microcosm of America’s Political Realignment
Current City: Hershey, Pennsylvania

Charles F. McElwee is managing editor at the Commonwealth Foundation, a free-market think tank in Pennsylvania. He was previously assistant editor of the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal. A lifelong Pennsylvanian, Charles has worked in the government affairs and communications sectors in Harrisburg, and the economic-development sector in Hazleton, where he spearheaded revitalization and historic preservation projects.

In addition to City Journal, Charles is a regular contributor to RealClearPolitics and The American Conservative, and his work has been featured in The Atlantic and The Philadelphia Inquirer, among other publications. He edits RealClear’s Public Affairs page on Pennsylvania, and he appears on television and podcast programs. He graduated summa cum laude from Lebanon Valley College with a bachelor’s degree in history and he earned a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Pennsylvania. Charles currently lives in Hershey, Pennsylvania.


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