A student journalist at Bowdoin has been selected by ProPublica to take part in its Emerging Reporters program. The nonprofit news organization launched the program last year as a way to increase diversity in investigative journalism by giving stipends and mentoring help to college journalists of color.
Marina Affo ’17, who was born in Togo in West Africa, is one of five students selected as Emerging Reporters from across the nation. Affo, who is pursuing a double major in government and Legal Studies, and history, is a writer and editor for the Bowdoin Orient. This summer she also completed a news internship at the Maine Public Broadcasting Network.
How does it feel to be a ProPublica 2016 Emerging Journalist?
It is an honor and I think a really cool opportunity because the folks at ProPublica are recognizing the financial challenges that might accompany being a journalist of color, and they’re helping us to actualize something we are very passionate about. They’re also pairing us up with someone who can help us be better journalists and that is actually my favorite part of being an Emerging Journalist.
Why does investigative journalism appeal to you?
I have wanted to be an investigative journalist for years now. I think it’s really important for people to know what’s going on around them—especially when it involves institutions and people that affect their everyday lives. To investigate something that looks very clear-cut and straightforward and see that there are gray areas, and more, to the story is very exciting for me. I get to help people make more informed decisions about their lives and I get to shed light on important issues.
What do you plan to do after graduation?
After graduation I plan to be a full-time reporter. I want to take a year off and work as a reporter somewhere (I’m in the process of applying for fellowships right now). Then I want to go to graduate school and focus again on journalism, specifically investigative reporting.
How will this ProPublica award help you achieve this?
ProPublica is the perfect avenue for this because with the mentorship aspect I am getting a leg up that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I feel that I will be much more prepared, having been mentored by experienced journalists from a well-established organization. I’m very excited and grateful for this opportunity. I get to do what I love and fully focus on it because of this program.
What’s your favorite activity outside of your studies and journalism?
I am a writer through and through, so when I’m not writing for the Bowdoin Orient (which I love to do), I am writing for myself in journals. I also love music. Chance the Rapper is currently the love of my life and any time I can stop and just listen to his music I feel at peace. I am also a fellow for the McKeen Center for the Common Good. I work with Tom Ancona on the What Matters discussion series, which is dedicated to creating a space where students can have conversations about issues affecting Bowdoin and the world outside of Bowdoin. Lastly, I am on the Student Digital Media Team which I also love. Photography is a newer passion of mine and right now I’m fumbling around trying to figure it out, but I’m loving the journey.