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The New York Times has named Mario Koran, an award-winning Wisconsin Watch investigative journalist, to its inaugural class of the Local Investigations Fellowship

Wisconsin Watch’s Mario Koran will be part of the inaugural class of The New York Time Local Investigations Fellowship. (Pat A. Robinson for Wisconsin Watch)

The program, which is being led by Dean Baquet, the former executive editor of The New York Times, gives journalists the opportunity to produce signature investigative work focused on their state or region that will be published by The Times and made available for free for co-publication by local newsrooms. 

Koran’s project focuses on the Wisconsin Department of Corrections. His investigation also has received support from The Data-Driven Reporting Project, funded by the Google News Initiative, in partnership with Northwestern University. 

“Through this fellowship, the New York Times recognizes what we have known for a long time: Mario Koran is a great reporter,” Wisconsin Watch Managing Editor Dee J. Hall said. “He produces meaningful, nuanced and beautifully crafted journalism that fits Wisconsin Watch’s guiding values: Protect the vulnerable. Expose wrongdoing. Explore solutions. We are thrilled that the power of Mario’s stories will soon reach an even wider audience.”  

Koran joins six other New York Times fellows. Their work will be primarily edited by Baquet; Chris Davis, deputy for the Local Investigative Reporting Fellowship; Adam Playford, a data and investigations editor who has helped oversee multiple Pulitzer Prize-winning projects; and Rebecca Corbett, a senior investigative editor at The Times who has led some of the newsroom’s most ambitious and notable work, including allegations of sexual harassment against Harvey Weinstein and the secret surveillance of Americans by the NSA. 

The fellowship was introduced to help develop the next generation of reporters to produce accountability journalism at the local level. In addition to producing signature investigative work, fellows will be provided with frequent training opportunities to learn investigative reporting techniques and make trips to the Times’s New York offices for additional training and mentorship. Times editors will also visit fellows in their reporting regions. 

Koran joined the Wisconsin Watch staff in July 2021 after serving as a Knight Wallace fellow at the University of Michigan. His work at Wisconsin Watch has largely focused on education, criminal justice and issues affecting communities of color. 

If you wish to send a story tip to Koran or other Wisconsin Watch reporters, please send an email to

Koran’s recent stories include a multi-part examination of how a school bullying probe and backlash politics paralyzed Kiel, Wisconsin’s democracy; an examination of efforts by Wisconsin’s 11 federally recognized tribes to diversify their economies; a look at barriers facing community college students in Milwaukee and contributions to the Wisconsin Watch-WPR series Justice Deferred, a look at an Outagamie County judge’s unusual sentencing practices. 

Koran previously served as a West Coast correspondent for The Guardian US, and spent five years covering schools for Voice of San Diego, where he was named the 2016 reporter of the year by the San Diego Society of Professional Journalists. Koran was a Wisconsin Watch intern in 2012-13, where he investigated Wisconsin’s flawed GPS system for tracking former prisoners who are out on parole. 

He holds a bachelor’s degree in Spanish literature and a master’s in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The other New York Times fellows are: 

Shalina Chatlini, a reporter for the States Newsroom in New Orleans. Chatlani, who was raised in Mississippi, will live in Jackson for a year to examine the state’s health care system.

Ilyssa Daly, a reporter for the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting at Mississippi Today. Daly will report on local law enforcement agencies throughout the state.

Callie Ferguson, a reporter for The Bangor Daily News in Maine. Ferguson will write about the state’s juvenile justice system. 

Sarah Fowler, a freelance journalist based in Jackson, Miss. Fowler will investigate the ongoing water crisis in Jackson, where crumbling infrastructure has routinely left the capital city without drinkable water.

Blaze Lovell, a reporter for Honolulu Civil Beat. Lovell will write about emergency and no-bid contracts awarded by the state.

Alissa Zhu, a reporter for The Baltimore Banner. Zhu will report on the state’s opioid crisis. 

Interested applicants can apply to the Local Investigations Fellowship here.

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