2022 TNG Student Media Conference

Guild Welcomes New, repeat Speakers

We’re honored and humbled to share this year’s talented, decorated lineup for the second annual TNG Student Media Conference. Everyone here either hails from, started in, got raised in, put time in or hustles now in, the incomparable land of metro Detroit.

Keynote Panel

Felecia D. Henderson

Felecia D. Henderson is Director for Cultural Competency at the Maynard
Institute for Journalism Education. She has coached infusing diversity, equity
and belonging practices into coverage and the workplace to nearly 200 print and
broadcast news organizations via the Table Stakes digital newsroom innovation
programs. She also is a Fault Lines® unconscious bias trainer and co-leader of
Maynard’s Newsroom Transformation Program.
Henderson is a coach in the UNC-Knight Table Stakes Initiative for local news
organizations in the southeast United States.
Prior to joining the institute, Felecia was an assistant managing editor at The
Detroit News where she was a member of the senior management team
responsible for newsroom operations. She began her journalism career at her
hometown newspaper, The Courier-Journal in Louisville, KY, graduated from the
Maynard Institute’s Editing Program for Minority Journalists at the University of
Arizona, and held editing roles at the Detroit Free Press and Cincinnati Post.
Felecia earned a bachelor’s degree in Radio-TV/Journalism from Murray State
University and a master of organization development from Bowling Green State

Dorothy Hernandez

Dorothy Hernandez is an assistant city editor for The Detroit News, where she oversees a team of reporters covering communities, crime and government in Metro Detroit.

Prior to rejoining The News, where she previously worked as a copy editor, she was digital editor at WDET 101.9 FM, Detroit’s NPR station; managing editor of Model D and editorial director for Issue Media Group; and managing editor at Hour Detroit magazine.

She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is pursuing an MBA at Wayne State University. You can find her online at dorothylynnhernandez.com and @dorothy_lynn_h on Twitter.

James G. Hill

James Hill has been a journalist for more than three decades, literally starting in the mail room – as a copy boy at The Detroit News – back in 1986. Over the years, Hill has also worked at the New York Times, Newsweek magazine and spent nearly 10 years in the newsroom of the Chicago Tribune before coming to the Detroit Free Press in February of 2000.

In addition to his various reporting and editing roles, Hill writes an occasional column, has served on the Free Press editorial board and is the intern coordinator. Hill was born in Detroit and has a genuine love for his city, its people and its sports teams – especially the Detroit Lions. 

Like so many true Honolulu Blue Lions fans, he says he just wants to live long enough to see his beloved Lions make it to – and hopefully win – a Super Bowl. When he’s not in the office, James can usually be found exploring Michigan – or some other state – with his family, biking through the streets, meeting with people in the community or classroom, or cheering on his favorite team.

Hill started his career at the Free Press as a reporter covering higher education, then Detroit City Hall, before becoming an editor. Hill has had many editing roles, including: assistant metro editor, suburban editor, deputy metro editor, metro editor, director of politics and public accountability. As senior news director, Hill now oversees the Free Press’ print operation, along with urban affairs news, suburban news, entertainment and features coverage, as well as conceiving and launching the newsroom’s latest initiative Detroit Is, which focuses on telling the stories of interesting people, life and issues in Detroit. He also supervises columnist John Carlisle.

Vincent D. McCraw

Vincent D McCraw is a journalist with more than 40 years’ experience in print and digital
media, working in newsrooms in Detroit, Atlanta and Washington, D.C. 
A graduate of Morehouse College, he started his career as an intern at the Atlanta
Journal in 1980, eventually becoming a reporter and city editor at The Atlanta Daily
World, one of the nation’s oldest Black newspapers.
Five years later he accepted a reporting position in his hometown at The Washington
Times covering D.C. politics, government and community affairs, Congress and the
White House on issues impacting the District. He also served as an assistant city
In 1999, he joined The Detroit News as an assistant city editor directing a team of
reporters covering Detroit government, politics and community affairs. He served in
several roles at the paper, including on the Copy Desk and as an editor for the
Neighborhood News tabloids. In 2008, he joined the News’ Digital Breaking News Desk
as an editor-producer.  
In 2021, he joined Report for America as a regional manager. RFA is a non-profit
committed to local news sustainability and places more than 300 emerging journalists in
more than 200 local newsrooms nationwide.  
McCraw joined the National Association of Black Journalists in 1980 and has been a
member of several local chapters. In 2015, he was elected vice president-print of the
Detroit chapter and has served as its president since 2017. In 2018, he led a team that
was instrumental in the planning and execution of NABJ convention in Detroit.

Walter T.  Middlebrook, a former assistant managing editor at The Detroit News who led an award-winning metro news desk and investigations team, is the Foster Professor of Practice at The Pennsylvania State University.

A senior editor and newsroom manager, his four-decade career also includes editing and working with staff and freelance writers producing stories and special sections in opinion, features, fashion, entertainment, news and business for such publications as The New York Times, Newsday/New York Newsday, USA Today and the St. Paul Dispatch and Pioneer Press. He was among the staff at Newsday that won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992 for spot news.

Middlebrook, who also has taught at Michigan State University, Hofstra University and at the Maynard Institute Editing Program for Minority Journalists, was named a Lifetime Achievement award-winner from the Detroit Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

He sits on the boards of the Rosa Parks Scholarship Foundation and the Daily Collegian at The Pennsylvania State University and the Board of Student Publications at the University of Michigan. He is a lifetime member of the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. A graduate of Boston University, the Memphis, Tenn., native is an Eagle Scout.

Managers’ Sessions leaders

Automotive News

Phil Nussel

Phil Nussel, 57, is the online editor at Automotive News in Detroit. He also has led the organization’s editorial internship program for the past 15 years, helping develop numerous collegiate journalists into award-winning business editors and reporters. Nussel joined Automotive News in 2005 after completing successful business editing roles at The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press.

He previously served as managing editor ofCrain’s Detroit Business from 1995 to 2002. Nussel, a 1987 graduate of the University of Michigan, began his career at the Charleston, W.Va., Daily Mail where he covered business news. He is a native of Toledo, Ohio.


Catherine Kelly

Catherine Kelly is the managing editor and director of BridgeDetroit. She is a longtime Detroiter and Detroit Public Schools graduate who knows that narratives matter. Catherine believes narratives create inclusion, grow opportunity, and change history, which is why she has built a long career in media, communications, strategy and branding.

For more than a decade, Catherine served as publisher of the Michigan Citizen — a widely read and respected community newspaper. A family business, the Michigan Citizen started on her parents’ dining room table in 1978. Part of the second wave of Black newspapers, the outlet’s mission was to reflect the realities and aspirations of Black Detroit. It provided coverage for entrepreneurs, activists, community efforts, and, overall, celebrated the accomplishments of Detroiters and their families.

Those early lessons taught her that to change narratives, organizations and people have to build and manage sustainable platforms. Art and content need resources and an audience to flourish. A belief she shared with the founders of hip hop.

An early hip hop fan, Catherine spent the 1990s in New York City during a time when billions of dollars were invested in Black media, lifestyle and entertainment companies that created products for and engaged a growing segment of youth culture.

She was part of a dynamic group that guided hip hop from a subculture to the mainstream. The music, art, dance and style of the culture became an economic boom for the recording, publishing, film, sports and fashion industries. At the time, she worked on several urban-focused media properties including Vibe and Russell Simmons’ Oneworld, among others. She also worked at one of the first digital hip-hop platforms that served as brand headquarters for Vice Media, Ego Trip, Ecko Unltd, and Triple Five Soul.

Through the years, Catherine has also worked with brands, organizations and corporations on strategies that shape messages and grow audiences. Those brands include Quicken Loans, Bedrock, Shinola, Citizen and Michigan State University.

Catherine attended the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy. She also holds a bachelor’s degree from Eugene Lang College at the New School.

Bridge Michigan

Joel Kurth

Bridge Michigan Managing Editor Joel Kurth has spent more than two decades in journalism in Michigan. He worked 17 years as an editor and reporter at The Detroit News, the last five of which he served as editor of investigations and projects. He’s overseen projects that prompted a reassessment of property taxes in Detroit, changed laws about tax foreclosure sales, prompted reforms at the Detroit Medical Center and led numerous investigations into municipal corruption. Kurth also worked at The Saginaw News and in the Upper Peninsula and has won more than 50 national and state journalism awards. You can reach Joel via email at jkurth@bridgemi.com, or call him at 586-306-4708.

Chalkbeat Detroit

Lori Higgins

Lori Higgins is the bureau chief for Chalkbeat Detroit. Previously, she covered K-12 education for nearly two decades as a reporter for the Detroit Free Press, was a reporter and editor at the Green Bay Press Gazette, and a reporter at the Manhattan Mercury. She is a native of Chicago and product of Chicago Public Schools.

Crain’s Detroit Business

Laurén Abdel-Razzaq 

Abdel-Razzaq is an assistant managing editor at Crain’s Detroit Business, focused on real estate, health and nonprofits. Prior to that she spent nearly 10 years at The Detroit News, starting as a reporter and moving to social media manager before becoming digital director. She is a graduate of Wayne State where she was part of the Journalism Institute for Media Diversity and got her journalism degree and an MBA. 

Detroit Free Press

Peter Bhatia

Peter Bhatia, a multiple Pulitzer Prize-winning editor who has spearheaded meaningful journalism and digital advances at numerous news sites across the country, is editor and vice president of the Detroit Free Press and freep.com

He joined The Free Press in September 2017, after two years as editor and vice president of The Enquirer and cincinnati.com. He also serves as the Michigan regional editor for the USA TODAY network, overseeing multiple news operations in the state.

He received the Benjamin C. Bradlee Editor of the Year award from the National Press Foundation in 2021.

At the Free Press, he has focused news efforts on investigative and enterprise journalism, and building the paper’s digital audience.The entire staff was mobilized for coverage of the COVID pandemic, resulting in more than 300 million page views on freep.com in April-June this year. 

His time in Cincinnati was noteworthy for the paper’s commitment to watchdog and investigative reporting, digital transformation and innovative work such as the “Accused” podcast. The unsolved-murder mystery series drew more than 6 million downloads. The Enquirer won a Pulitzer prize for work done during his tenure on the opioid epidemic. 

Bhatia previously was director of the Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism at Arizona State’s Cronkite School of Journalism. He joined the university in June 2014 as visiting professor in journalism ethics after a two-decade career at The Oregonian in Portland, where he was editor.

His resume includes helping lead newsrooms that have won 10 Pulitzer Prizes, including six in Portland. He is a seven-time Pulitzer juror. He is the first journalist of South Asian descent to lead a major daily newspaper in the U.S., running The Oregonian from 2010 to 2014. He previously was the paper’s managing editor and executive editor, teaming with then-editor Sandra Mims Rowe. Rowe and Bhatia were named editors of the year by Editor & Publisher magazine in 2008. He served as president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors in 2003-04 and is a regular speaker on contemporary journalism issues.

Bhatia was executive editor of The Fresno Bee, managing editor of The Sacramento Bee, editor of the York (Pennsylvania) Dispatch and Sunday News, managing editor of the Dallas Times Herald, deputy managing editor of the San Francisco Examiner, and a reporter and editor at The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington.

He also is a leader in journalism education, having served for 12 years as president of the national organization that accredits college schools of journalism and mass communication from 2007-14 and 2016-today. He has led or served on more than 20 Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications accrediting teams in the U.S., Middle East and New Zealand. 

Peter and his wife, Liz Dahl, have two grown children, who live in Portland and New York City, and one grandchild.

Peter is a 1975 graduate of Stanford University with a BA in history and a double major in history and communication. He has served on the board of directors of the Stanford Alumni Association and Stanford Associates. He serves on an advisory board for Stanford magazine. He co-chaired his 40th class reunion in 2015. His son is a 2012 Stanford graduate.

The Detroit News

Gary Miles

Miles was named Editor and Publisher of The Detroit News on May 10, 2019, the first Michigan native to lead the newsroom since 1986. Previously, Gary served as managing editor for five years and in various other editing roles at The News since 2000. He has been a propelling force for investigative journalism and in the digital transformation of The News, which leads the market in digital reader loyalty and engagement. A native of the Detroit area, Gary grew up in Midland and has served in reporting and editing roles in Port Huron, Lansing, New Jersey and Washington, D.C. He serves on the board of Michigan Associated Press Media Editors and the Rosa Parks Scholarship Foundation. He and his wife Dorothy, a physician, have four children.

Fox 2 Detroit

Laura Moore

Laura Moore is assistant news director for Fox 2 Detroit.

Michigan Radio

Vincent Duffy

Vincent Duffy has been News Director at Michigan Radio (NPR) since May 2007. In his fourteen years leading the Michigan Radio news room, the news team of 12 journalists has won scores of national journalism awards for news coverage, including a recent Peabody Award for the podcast Believed, and a DuPont Award and Scripps-Howard Award for their coverage of the Flint water crisis.

Michigan Radio covers statewide news with bureaus in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Flint, Lansing and Grand Rapids. Reporters at the station frequently file national stories with NPR and other public radio programs.

Duffy has twice been Chairman of the Radio/Television/Digital News Association (RTDNA), the nation’s largest organization representing electronic journalists. He still serves on the RTDNA board as a Foundation Trustee.

He also has been a member of SPJ for almost 30 year and serves on the Journalism and Mass Communications Accreditation Committee.

As a journalist he covered news in Europe, Australia and Africa.

He is a frequent speaker on journalism issues, both in the USA and abroad.

Duffy graduated from Kent State University with degrees in political science and telecommunications, and has a Master’s Degree in mass media from Miami University of Ohio.

Outlier Media

Sarah Alvarez is founder and editor-in-chief of Outlier Media.

WDIV Channel 4

Kim Voet

Kim Voet has spent more than 35 years in newsrooms telling stories and watching history be made. She is celebrating 11 years as the News Director at WDIV-TV/ClickonDetroit.com in Detroit, and came up the management ranks in the newsroom. WDIV is the MAB Station of the Year for the past 7 years. This year, the station was awarded the coveted National Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Newscast. Loves big breaking news, enterprise news stories and tackling challenges – 2020 & 2021 have provided plenty of them. Murrow and Emmy Award winner. Proud University of Missouri graduate: M-I-Z! Happy wife and mother of two.

Session leaders

Scouting Internships 

Jewel Gopwani

Jewel Gopwani is senior editor for engagement and events at the Detroit Free Press. She works with reporters who cover economic mobility and returning citizens, both engagement-focused beats intended to serve readers with useful, actionable information and shine a light on the challenges faced by some of Michigan’s most vulnerable residents. 

Jewel is the engagement director at the Free Press and at the Freep Film Festival, the Detroit Free Press’ annual celebration of documentary film.

Jewel also assists the Free Press Opinion team on guest columns and is a member of the Free Press’ editorial board.

Previously, Jewel was the Opinion section’s engagement director, a business reporter, covering airlines and auto suppliers.

She started at the Free Press in 2003 as a suburban reporter in Oakland County.

Opinions and Features Writing

Nancy Kaffer

Nancy Kaffer is an award-winning columnist and member of the editorial board at the Detroit Free Press, where she writes about politics, policy and the complicated relationship between the two, from Detroit’s historic municipal bankruptcy to education to the Flint water crisis.

Kaffer’s coverage of the Flint water crisis earned her the 2015 Scripps Howard Walker Stone Award for Opinion Writing and the Shorenstein Center’s 2016 Nyhan Prize. Previously a staff writer for Crain’s Detroit Business, Kaffer wrote about small business, retail, city government and Michigan’s second-stage economy.

She has also worked at publications including metro Detroit alt-weekly Metro Times and the Hattiesburg (Miss.) American, where she covered k-12 education and post-Katrina recovery in Mississippi’s strange and fascinating Pine Belt.

Kaffer was a founding member of the Guild’s diversity, inclusion and equity committee.

Melody Baetens

Melody Baetens is a 23-year veteran of The Detroit News’ arts and entertainment department. Joining the staff in 1999 as an editorial assistant, she began compiling the live music and nightlife calendars before she was of legal age to enter most clubs.

In 2013, Baetens was promoted to features reporter, assisting in the coverage of Detroit’s restaurant revival and landmark events like the opening of Little Caesars Arena and Aretha Franklin’s 2018 death.

The Detroit-area native was named The Detroit News restaurant critic in 2019. Congruent with her journalism career, Baetens is a lifelong musician who toured the world with rock bands throughout the 2000s and for 12 years co-owned live music venue Small’s Bar in Hamtramck. She’s married to musician Dave Malosh and they recently welcomed Olive, their beloved Havanese.

Darren A. Nichols

Darren A. Nichols is an award-winning journalist with nearly 30 years of experience in the industry. The majority of his career was as a longtime reporter at The Detroit News, extensively chronicling issues in city hall covering five mayoral administrations. Among his major issues included outlining Detroit’s financial crisis that led to Detroit’s bankruptcy proceedings.

His deep knowledge of Detroit and the surrounding areas has led Nichols to his work now as a contributing columnist at the Detroit Free Press. In April 2020, Nichols’ column in the New York Times highlighted Detroit’s massive problems dealing with Covid-19.

Nichols launched DNICK Media, his multimedia company that provides a variety of services in 2018. They include freelance writing, Op-Ed writing, copywriting, press releases and media consulting/training. Media relations clients include the state of Delaware’s Department of Labor, Kresge Foundation, Microsoft, Cadence LLC, Focus: HOPE and consulting political candidates. Freelance journalism pieces have appeared in several media outlets locally and nationally, including The New York Times, Revolt magazine and the Detroit Athletic Club.

Nichols is a product of the Journalism Institute for Minorities at Wayne State University, a nationally-recognized program designed to increase the low number of people of color in newsrooms. That brought Nichols to newsrooms primarily as a sports writing intern in Cincinnati, Roanoke, Va., Indianapolis and within the Detroit-area. 

Nichols also has covered sporting events,  including: The 1989 NBA finals, hydroplane racing, World Cycling, AAU basketball and Golden Gloves Championships. He also secondarily covered the Detroit Pistons, Lions and Cincinnati Reds and Bengals.

Legendary sports interviews included boxer Aaron Pryor, Michael Jordan, Barry Sanders, Tom Izzo, Jerome Bettis, Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars and Magic Johnson. His biggest thrill was meeting and covering the legendary Muhammad Ali.

After suffering a major stroke in Sept. 2014, Nichols shares his story as an ambassador for the American Heart/Stroke Association. It includes media appearances and public speaking engagements.

A member of the National Association of Black Journalists, Nichols is the former Detroit Chapter president and deputy regional director.

News Reporting

Anna Liz Nichols

Anna is an award-winning reporter for The Detroit News whose work has been seen in The Washington Post, AP, Detroit Free Press, PBS, CNN and other news outlets. Anna’s work in government and criminal justice reporting involves robust and investigative stories on sexual and domestic violence, election laws and government accountability. She has garnered an international audience for her stories surrounding topics of violence from the Oxford HS shooting to the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal.

Sarah Rahal

Sarah Rahal is a Detroit City Hall and investigative reporter at The Detroit News. Aside from her city beat, Rahal has been focused on daily coronavirus reporting in Michigan and immigration topics. She most recently partnered with New York-Michigan Solutions Journalism Collaborative to write a series on a national caregiver shortage during the pandemic.

Rahal joined the breaking news desk in 2017 after graduating from Wayne State University with a bachelor’s in journalism and a minor in new media studies. She is a graduate of the Journalism Institute for Media Diversity, an honors program at the university.

As a native of Dearborn, she also represents Arab Americans in newsrooms as president of the Michigan chapter of Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) .

Rahal was a founding member of the Diversity Committee for the News Guild of Detroit. 

Micah Walker

Micah Walker is a trending reporter at The Columbus Dispatch, writing everything from breaking news to health to features. Previously, she was a general assignment reporter for The Marion Star in Marion, Ohio and a breaking news intern at the Detroit Free Press. Micah is a graduate of the University of Michigan-Dearborn and is originally from the metro Detroit area. 

Web Editing and Social Media

Brian Manzullo

Brian Manzullo is the Social, Search and Audience Editor at the Detroit Free Press, overseeing the search and social strategy for freep.com. He oversees a team of web editors who focus on on- and off-platform strategy to grow audience, including SEO, social media, newsletters, push alerts and more.

He has worked at the Free Press since 2012, when he started as a sports web editor, and previously worked at The Arizona Republic (azcentral.com) as an online sports producer.

Brian Todd

Brian Todd is a web editor for the Detroit Free Press.

Building a Beat

Kahn Santori Davison

Kahn Santori Davison hails from Detroit. He is formerly an art columnist for The Gazette News and Entertainment writer for the Michigan Citizen. He’s a music writer for the Detroit Metro Times. He’s appeared on Netflix’s “Hip-Hop Evoloution and FX’s “Hip-Hop Uncovered.”

He wrote the panel text for the Detroit Institute of Arts, “D-Cyphered” exhibit, he’s served as a creative writing instructor at Detroit Impact Community Center & Inside Out Literary Arts, and was a co-star in the award winning play “Mahogany Drams.”  

He’s been featured on the Boyce Watkins Show, The Brenda Perryman Show, and others.  He’s a Cave Canem fellow who’s works have been featured in The Alabama Poetry Society, The Entoitist, The Baltimore Review, London’s X-Bout, Barbaric Yap, Callaloo, Black Renaissance Noire, and The Litchfield Review. He authored the poetry book Blaze (2015 Willow Books). He is the recipient of the 2015 Kresge Literary Arts Fellowship and a 2018 “Documenting Detroit Fellowship.”  

The owner of Kahn Santori Photography, www.ksantori.com., Davison has a B.A. from Oakland University and is a proud husband and father of four. He’s working on his autobiography. 

Bryce Huffman

Bryce Huffman is a reporter for BridgeDetroit. He was formerly a reporter for Michigan Radio, and host of the podcast, Same Same Different.

Carol Thompson

Carol grew up in Midland, graduated from Michigan State University and has since worked for newspapers in northern Wisconsin, Traverse City and Allentown, Pennsylvania. She came to The News from the Lansing State Journal, where she covered the state workforce, the environment and other statewide issues.

Surviving Freelance

Nic Antaya

Nic Antaya is a full-time freelance photographer and photojournalist based in Detroit, Mich.. I’m an alumnus of Michigan State University, the Danish School of Media and Journalism (DMJX) and the Eddie Adams Workshop XXXI. Prior to freelancing, I interned with The Boston Globe, The Herald (Jasper, Ind.) and The Grand Rapids Press/MLive.com (Grand Rapids, Mich.)

Eleanore Catolico

Eleanore Catolico (she/her/hers) is an independent journalist living in Detroit. Through nuanced reporting and clear and vivid storytelling, many of Eleanore’s stories center the voices and lived experiences of BIPOC communities.

She has written about education, environmental justice, clean energy financing, small businesses, arts and culture, mental health, food insecurity, the criminal justice system, police accountability, and other topics. 

Eleanore’s work has appeared in Yes! Magazine, EdSurge, MindSite News, Chalkbeat, WDET 101.9 FM, Bridge Michigan, BridgeDetroit, Planet Detroit, Energy News Network, Detroit Metro Times, The Chicago Reader, The Chicago Reporter, South Side Weekly, and other national and local publications. 

She’s also a former education reporter for Chalkbeat Detroit and a former civic reporter for WDET 101.9 FM, where she covered city government in collaboration with The Detroit Documenters program.

She’s won multiple national and local journalism fellowships with organizations like the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, The Uproot Project, City Bureau, The Detroit Equity Action Lab’s Race and Justice Reporting Initiative, the Journalism & Women’s Symposium and others. 

This year, she reported, wrote, and edited an audio feature about school surveillance for WDET’s podcast series Tracked and Traced, which was completed in collaboration with Michigan State University’s Science Gallery. She also served as an associate producer for “Alive in Detroit,” an upcoming feature documentary exploring inequities in the city’s healthcare system.

Her feature writing has won recognition from the Michigan Press Association and the Society of Professional Journalists-Detroit Chapter.

TV Reporting 

Amanda Allie

Ever since I was a little girl, I loved writing. Words give me the power to express myself. My pencil is my canvas, my ticket to creativity, curiosity, and freedom. Or, I suppose, in 2021, my pencil is my keyboard. I would enter any writing contests I could, starting with Reflections in K-12. During that time of year, my heart always beat a little faster. I couldn’t wait for the “big” show.

By the time you meet me, I’ll be 32. The truth is, I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. Here’s something I’ve always known: I’ll be happy as long as it involves writing.

Fast forward to around 2010, and I was a happy-go-lucky clerk at Family Video. Rich Luterman, Fox 2’s Chief Meteorologist, was a happy-go-lucky customer. Day after day, I tried to work up the courage to ask him about internships. One day, I heard a little voice come out of me: “Mr. Uh … Luterman. Do you think maybe I can intern at Fox 2 or maybe come in for a tour?”

I had no broadcast media experience. I worked my tail off for 2.5 years so they would keep me around as a writer. Fast forward to today, and I’ve found a home at WXYZ-TV for 5 years. My experience at both organizations helped shape me into the evolving news producer I am today.

Every day is a new day. It’s a chance to grow, a chance to take a step back and see things differently, to appreciate what you have. I hope I can be a small part of your journey, a small paragraph in your novel of life. You’re in charge. Be kind along the way. Never forget to ask: Do you think maybe I can intern?

— Amanda

Jenn Schanz

Jenn Schanz is an anchor and reporter for WXYZ-TV. She’s been in Detroit since 2019 and prior to that, worked as a reporter in Nebraska and upstate New York. She is has won a regional Edward R. Murrow and an Associated Press award for her past reporting. Jenn 

anchors weekend mornings and reports during the week on Channel 7. She’s covered national stories including the Pulse night club shooting, clergy sex abuse, the 2015 manhunt for escaped prisoners Richard Matt and David Sweat from an upstate NY correctional facility. 

Sarah Nicole Smith

Three-time Emmy winner Sarah Smith is the owner and lead producer/writer of Zmith Productions. Her works include 10 seasons of Detroit Public Television’s Emmy-winning series Detroit Performs, Oakland Men’s Basketball’s Oakland All-Access show, four educational documentaries with REL Midwest and hype videos for University of Detroit-Mercy basketball teams and the United Shore Professional Baseball League.

Sarah has also worked on other local and national productions including: Arab American Stories, Vital Signs, A World Without Cancer with Dr. Margaret Cuomo, Learning in the Wild, STEM Heroes, and more. She has also created PSA campaigns for Detroit’s Early Learning Champions, Michigan Fitness Foundation, Michigan Lottery’s Partners in Education, DPTV’s Digital Adventure and more.

Sarah has also worked for ESPN’s College Football, World Cup, Horse Racing, and X Games coverage, as well as Fox Sports Detroit’s Tigers, Red Wings, Pistons and college hockey games. Sarah earned radio production experience during her time with Detroit’s number one sports radio station, 97.1 The Ticket.

Sarah graduated from the University of Michigan-Dearborn in 2007 with a degree in Journalism and Electronic Media. 

Biz and Education Reporting

Jason Davis

Jason Davis is the small and emerging business reporter for Crain’s Detroit Business.

He is a 21-year journalism veteran who has worked at multiple media outlets covering sports, news and more while also helping mentor interns.

Davis has spent several semesters teaching journalism classes.

He earned a BA in journalism from Michigan State University and an MA in education from Eastern Michigan University.

Eric D. Lawrence

Eric D. Lawrence is part of the autos team at the Detroit Free Press, covering Stellantis, formerly Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, as well as various mobility and transportation topics. Eric has also written extensively on the high number of pedestrian fatalities and injuries on U.S. roadways in recent years. Eric began his time at the Free Press as the night police reporter in 2008, and since then, he has covered breaking news, communities, county government and many random occurrences. Eric is the chair of the Free Unit for the Newspaper Guild of Detroit. Prior to his time in Michigan, Eric was both reporter and editor, working in Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Ohio, and he was the editor at his college paper, The Daily Athenaeum, at West Virginia University. Eric is married to a journalist and has a 10-year-old son.

Copy Editing and Design

Diana McNary

Diana McNary has been a designer for The Detroit News for many years, producing the print edition. She takes the news, photos and graphics of the day and arranges them on pages with headlines and captions to make it as interesting and easy-to-read as possible.

She grew up in Indiana but is now a proud Detroiter.

Diana also plays keyboards and sings with a party band and loves karaoke and trivia nights. She lives on the eastside of Detroit with her sweet oddball cat, Harriett.

Benita Mehta

Benita Mehta is chief editor of Industrial Safety and Hygiene News, a business to business publication focused on workplace safety, where she plans, edits and writes content, and manages both the website and the monthly digital magazine as well as social media for the brand. 

Previously, she’s been a copy editor at The Detroit News and The Port Huron Times Herald. 

She has a journalism degree from Michigan State University and has also worked as a reporter at The Lansing State Journal and The Buffalo News in New York. 

Investigative Reporting

Louis Aguilar

Louis Aguilar has won dozens of national and regional awards for his reporting. He is a former staff writer at the Washington Post, Denver Post, Hispanic Link in Washington, Westword (Denver’s alternative weekly), Colorado Springs (Colo.) Gazette and BridgeDetroit.

From 2004 to 2020, he helped chronicle the epic rise/fall/rise of his native Detroit for The Detroit News as a business and investigative reporter. He recently returned to The News to cover Wayne County.

Beyond reporting, he has received recognition for his narrative writing and storytelling skills. He is recipient of a Kresge Fellowship for Literary Arts. He has been awarded various writing fellowships, including the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity (Banff, AB, Canada), the Mesa Refuge in northern California and the Paris Writers Retreat. He is author of “Long Live the Dead: The Accidental Mummies of Guanajuato,” a book exploring a Mexican city’s complex relationship with its 112 mummified citizens. (Publisher: Michigan Science Center) In Aug. 2022, his essay about Detroit’s arts scene was included in the book “SATELLITE, a Decade of Transcontinental Explorations”, published by the Montreal art group Dare-Dare. He is currently writing a nonfiction book based on the 11 months spent by the artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera in Depression-era Detroit.

Beyond his journalism career, he briefly ran an independent film festival in Washington. He has created Latino programming for the Smithsonian Institution. He also was a grant writer for Wayne State University. He is former national board member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), as well as a member of the Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE), Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing (SABEW) and Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ). He currently serves on the boards of Signal-Return, a Detroit nonprofit preserving and teaching traditional letterpress printing, and Southwest Detroit Stakeholder Council, which is helping shape arts and cultural events near the Ford Corktown campus.

New Detroit Free Press columnist M.L. Elrick photographed in the studio at the Free Press in Detroit on Wednesday, April 20, 2022

M.L. Elrick is a Pulitzer Prize and Emmy Award-winning investigative reporter who hosts the ML’s Soul of Detroit podcast. Over the past 30 years, he has worked as a newspaper and television reporter, a radio talk show host and taught journalism at Wayne State University, Michigan State University and the University of Michigan-Dearborn. In March, he launched “On Guard,” a government watchdog column for the Detroit Free Press. A native Eastsider, he graduated from Michigan State University in 1990 and has lived in Detroit since 1999.

Hayley Harding

Hayley Harding is a data reporter on The Detroit News’ investigation team. She covers a variety of topics and also makes interactive maps and data visualizations to help audiences better understand the numbers driving a story. In previous roles, she was a real nuisance to government officials all over the country.

Christine MacDonald

Christine MacDonald has been a reporter for more than 20 years, covering schools, Detroit City Hall and most recently on the Detroit Free Press investigative team.

Photography, Video and Podcast

Robin Buckson

After interning and freelancing for a few years after graduating from Western Kentucky University, Robin became a staff photographer at The Detroit News. During her 20+ year career there, she has enjoyed photographing all variety of assignments from news to features and lots of sports: sports from high school, college and the pros. Baseball has become her favorite and she has covered the Tigers since 2007. Whatever the assignment, she enjoys learning about people, telling their stories and sharing with readers in a way that perhaps leads them to learn about and care about their fellow humans.

Cary Junior II

Cary Junior II was born in Detroit and raised just outside the city in Royal Oak Township. He was a theatre kid and band nerd through much of his youth, but his charismatic personality was primarily shaped by his two older sisters.

He started his first podcast when he was a rising senior — and self-ascribed conversationalist — at the University of Detroit Jesuit High School. He then headed south for higher education and graduated from Morehouse College, where he learned the importance of consequential community engagement. After his return to the Motor City, he launched a career in audio.  

Cary has since self-produced a podcast for the non-profit Heritage Works, worked on the first season of Crooked Media’s America Dissected, been awarded WDET’s Storymaker fellowship, and is now a producer on and the host of the Detroit Free Press’ weekly news podcast On the Line.  

Darcie Moran

Darcie Moran is an award-winning reporter for the Detroit Free Press, where she handles breaking news, investigations and audio story development.

Moran has been recognized for her work covering the criminal justice system, including judicial misconduct, and has most recently covered police protests, wildfires, and sexual assaults at Eastern Michigan University.

Her reporting has led to developments in a 25-year-old cold case and a manslaughter conviction for a prison guard.

Two separate podcasts co-founded by Moran have also received the Best Podcast award from the Michigan Press Association.

Resume Writing

Stephanie Steinberg

Stephanie Steinberg is the founder and CEO of The Detroit Writing Room, which offers professional writing coaches, workshops, book talks and more. She’s also the executive director of the nonprofit arm Coaching Detroit Forward, which organizes free writing and photography programs for Detroit high school students. Stephanie has been a journalist for over a decade and was previously the managing editor of SEEN Magazine. She also served as a features reporter at The Detroit News and a health and finance editor at U.S. News & World Report in Washington D.C. Stephanie is a University of Michigan alum, where she majored in Communication Studies and was the editor-in-chief of The Michigan Daily student newspaper. She is the editor of the book “In the Name of Editorial Freedom: 125 Years at the Michigan Daily” that was published by the University of Michigan Press in 2015. Throughout her career, she’s contributed to various publications, including The New York Times, The Boston Globe, USA Today, CNN.com, The Huffington Post and others. 

Sports Reporting

Nolan Bianchi

Nolan Bianchi is a general assignment sports reporter for The Detroit News. He covers the Detroit Lions, Pistons, Red Wings, Tigers, Wolverines, Spartans and everything in between. Nolan joined the News full time in July 2022 after five years of freelancing for various publications and also has experience in podcasting, graphic design, social media and video production. He graduated from Oakland University in 2018 with Bachelor’s degrees in journalism and screenwriting.

Tony Garcia

Tony Garcia, 29, is a sports reporter for the Detroit Free Press and two-time APME award winner. He’s been in the industry for seven years both in print and as a TV reporter.

He graduated from Michigan State in 2015 with a Bachelor’s in journalism after covering the football and men’s basketball team as a student. Upon graduation, Tony took a job with MLive Media Group on the high school sports desk.

After three months, he was made the Jackson area sports reporter for the Jackson Citizen Patriot and held the position from 2016-19.

Tony then moved to Chicago, where he got his Masters degree in sports reporting from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. While in school he did play-by-play for Big Ten Network and worked NBA All Star weekend.

From there, he took a job with WLNS-TV6, the CBS affiliate in Lansing as a reporter and producer. He covered the COVID-19 pandemic, crime, city government and local affairs and put together shows for the weekend newscasts.

In April of 2022, he was hired as a sports reporter for the Detroit Free Press. Since his time there, he’s covered the Tigers, Lions, Pistons, Michigan and Michigan State as well as PGA tour and high school sports.

Lynn Henning

Lynn Henning is a semi-retired sports journalist with five decades of covering everything sports in Detroit. He mostly writes about baseball now.

Marissa McNees

Marissa McNees is a sports reporter for The Chronicle-Telegram in Elyria, Ohio, covering everything from high school sports to all three Cleveland professional sports teams, with an emphasis on the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

Her journalism experience has involved print, radio and television over the course of her 10-year career. She has hosted an award-winning web show covering Northeast Ohio football, has done football sideline reporting as well as weekend radio hosting. 

McNees previously covered sports at The Morning Journal in Lorain, Ohio, and The Detroit News, and graduated from Eastern Michigan University.

Sports. What else can we say? A crowd favorite in 2021, come hear from Detroit Free Press sports reporter Tony Garcia, Detroit News general assignment sports reporter Nolan Bianchi and Marissa McNees, is a sports reporter for The Chronicle-Telegram in Elyria, Ohio.

John Niyo

John Niyo is a sports columnist for The Detroit News.

Committee Members

Stevie Blanchard

Stevie Blanchard has served as administrative officer for the Newspaper Guild of Detroit for six years. Prior to working for the Guild, she worked at the Metropolitan Detroit AFL-CIO as a community service liaison and field organizer.

She has a bachelor’s in Sociology and Gender Studies from Northland College and did graduate studies in Sociology and Urban Labor at Wayne State University. 

Blanchard co-founded the Guild’s Diversity Committee and served as co-chair and secretary. The union boss lady spearheads all movements at Detroit Local 34022: Committees, organizing work, recruiting and more. Stevie also works on nationwide and international projects. She is co-director for the 2022 TNG Student Media Conference.

Jordyn Grzelewski 

Originally from the Youngstown, Ohio area, Jordyn started her journalism career at her hometown newspaper, the (now-defunct) Youngstown Vindicator.

She went on to work at The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer before joining The Detroit News in 2020.

Jordyn serves as secretary of the Newspaper Guild of Detroit and is a founding member of the Guild’s diversity committee. She this year joined the bargaining committee and helps coordinate mobilizing efforts for the Guild. She is co-director for the TNG Student Media Conference.

Kalea Hall

Kalea Hall has been a professional reporter for eight years. She’s worked as an automotive reporter at The Detroit News for nearly two years covering General Motors, industry trends and the UAW.

Kalea has wanted to be a reporter since she was eight years old and started her career at her hometown paper, The Vindicator.

She worked at the Youngstown, Ohio daily newspaper for five years covering business before moving to Michigan to get her master’s at Michigan State while working full time as a reporter for The Battle Creek Enquirer.

Her dream was to cover autos in the Motor City and she achieved that in July 2019.

Kalea is a founding member of the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee for the Detroit News Guild. She also helps organize and coordinate mobilizing efforts for Local 34022. She is a deputy director for the 2022 TNG Student Media Conference.

Chanel Stitt

Chanel Stitt is a business reporter at the Detroit Free Press, where she focuses on minority-owned businesses, nonprofits, and entrepreneurs. She started as the Freep/Detroit NABJ inaugural intern in June 2020, and was brought onto the team full-time in August 2020.

In 2022, Stitt began taking classes at Syracuse University in New York for her communication’s degree, in addition to full-time work.

Stitt is also the vice president of print for the Detroit National Association of Black Journalists chapter. She does work with the exec board and is a founding member of the Guild’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee and is a deputy director for the TNG Student Media Conference.

Julie Walker

Julie Walker became a buy-sell reporter for the retail team at Automotive News on Oct. 3. Prior to freelancing for about two years, she worked at The Detroit News for nearly a decade. At the News, Walker became the lead sports section designer, edited copy and wrote stories.

Previous stops include The Oakland Press, The Dearborn Press & Guide, The Downriver News-Herald and The Belleville Current. Find her freelance bylines all over, including in BridgeDetroit, Catena Media, the Detroit Free Press, Automotive News, Planet Detroit, Hour Detroit, Model D Detroit and more.

Walker joined the Newspaper Guild of Detroit in 2015, served three terms as secretary of the Guild’s executive board, became a rep and joined the bargaining and equal pay committees. She co-founded the diversity committee with Stevie Blanchard and serves as elected chairwoman through Oct. 31, 2022. Walker is the director of the TNG Student Media Conference.

Still reading? We appreciate it! Now head on over to Eventbrite to register before space fills up.

To preserve the personal style of each session leader, we only lightly edited submitted bios. Please let us know if you’re a presenter who wants to make a change or a sharp-eyed editor who sees a typo by emailing juliewalker1280@gmail.com Thank you!