Marquette University
Press Release

Diederich College of Communication announces 2020-21 O’Brien Fellows


By - Apr 20th, 2020 03:29 pm
Ashley Nguyen. Photo courtesy of Marquette University.

Ashley Nguyen. Photo courtesy of Marquette University.

MILWAUKEE — The J. William and Mary Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University has announced the next class of journalists joining the O’Brien Fellowship in Public Service Journalism.

The fellowship teams up Marquette student journalists with reporters and news outlets for nine-month investigations into national and local issues.

The incoming Fellows for the 2020–2021 academic year are:

  • Ashley Nguyen, independent journalist and former multiplatform editor with the Washington Post
  • Rick Barrett, business and agriculture reporter with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
  • Timothy Bannon, independent journalist; formerly sports editor and writer at the Chicago Tribune

“Now, more than ever, we need probing, in-depth journalism,” said Dave Umhoefer, O’Brien Fellowship director. “We’re excited to support these investigations into health, safety and economic issues starting in August.”

Fellows receive a $65,000 salary stipend and additional funding. Sponsoring news organizations get an in-depth reporting project and a summer intern following the fellowship. O’Brien Fellows use Marquette’s O’Brien Fellowship newsroom in Milwaukee as their base, traveling widely and leading a group of Marquette student interns. Projects have covered topics such as water quality, criminal justice, education, immigration and health.

At the Washington Post, Nguyen helped launch The Lily, a publication that elevates women’s voices. Currently, she is finishing a master’s in public health with a concentration in maternal and child health at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Rick Barrett. Photo courtesy of Marquette University.

Rick Barrett. Photo courtesy of Marquette University.

Nguyen has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Temple University and previously worked as a local producer at and a program officer at the International Center for Journalists. She is a former Peace Corps volunteer in Kyrgyzstan.

Barrett, a reporter with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for nearly 20 years, writes extensively about the dairy industry, manufacturing and international trade. He was the lead reporter on the Journal Sentinel’sDairyland in Distress” series.

He’s reported for the Wisconsin State Journal and papers in Florida, Texas, Michigan—his home state—and was a news photographer in Arkansas. He is a graduate of Central Michigan University.

Bannon, of Oak Park, Illinois, was a top editor and writer at the Chicago Tribune for over 25 years, at various times overseeing sports, culture and entertainment coverage before taking a buyout in January. He’s a former Chicago Sun-Times editor and reported at the Arlington Heights Daily Herald and Anderson Daily Bulletin in Indiana.

He was lead editor for the Tribune’s series on a deadly tornado that struck Utica, Illinois. The series of stories by Julia Keller won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing. Bannon received his bachelor’s degree in journalism and English literature from Indiana University.

The O’Brien Fellowship has also selected six students to work with the incoming journalists for nine months, including four rising seniors in journalism with experience in the award-winning student-run Marquette Wire media operation: Kelli Arseneau, Margaret Cahill, Sarah Lipo and Amanda Parrish; and two graduate students, Christopher Miller and Rachel Ryan.

Timothy Bannon. Photo courtesy of Marquette University.

Timothy Bannon. Photo courtesy of Marquette University.

The current class of O’Brien Fellows includes Larry Parnass of the Berkshire Eagle, Payton Guion of New Jersey Advance Media, Katelyn Ferral of the Capital Times and James Causey of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

In 2013, Peter and Patricia Frechette made a generous $8.3 million gift to Marquette’s Diederich College of Communication in honor of Patricia’s parents, Marquette alumni Perry and Alicia O’Brien. The Frechettes designated their gift to the launch of the “Perry and Alicia O’Brien Fellowship in Public Service Journalism,” a program designed to give reporters the outlet they need to produce a world-class public service project and train the next generation of outstanding journalists.

About the O’Brien Fellowship

Since 2013, the Perry and Alicia O’Brien Fellowship in Public Service Journalism has supported investigative or explanatory reporting projects by over 25 journalists from around the country. Stories by O’Brien Fellows have earned prestigious honors including the George Polk and the duPont, and awards from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, National Headliner, the National Association of Black Journalists, the John Jay College/Guggenheim and the National Academies. Fellows have worked as staff or freelance journalists. Over 80 graduate and undergraduate students have spent at least one semester helping O’Brien Fellows with reporting, data analysis, research and multimedia presentation.

NOTE: This press release was submitted to Urban Milwaukee and was not written by an Urban Milwaukee writer. It has not been verified for its accuracy or completeness.

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