Meet ONA’s MJ Bear Fellows, under-30 journalism stand-outs

By on August 1, 2013

The Online News Association, the world’s largest membership organization of digital journalists, today announced its third class of MJ Bear Fellows, three journalists under age 30 whose innovative work in independent, community and corporate news represents the best of new media.

The selection committee combed through applications from 18 countries to choose these up-and-coming digital journalists — two in the United States or Canada and one international, in partnership with MSN International — who are making their voices heard in the industry.

The 2013 MJ Bear Fellows are:

Armie Garde, 24

An assistant content editor and multimedia journalist for Sun.Star Publishing, Cebu City, Philippines. She is a graduate of Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City, Philippines.

Armie said of her focus, “An online journalist is needed to play the role of a well-informed gatekeeper on top of being a watchdog of democracy – an authority in reporting double-checked facts online. I want to be actively part of this changing communication landscape, most especially in my country.”

The selection committee said: “This video heartwarmingly showcases a slice of real life in the Philippines not readily seen by the outside world. Its documentary-like approach is full of color, hope and impact that creates a personal, even intimate, connection between the individuals on the screen and the viewers watching. Armie’s storytelling instincts shine through powerfully in the digital space. The subject here is dance, but it is also a touching exploration of a facet of the human condition.” See Armie’s work.

Connect and learn more.

Ashley Lohmann, 25

A freelance journalist and former associate editor for the Fair Observer, a crowd-sourced media site, where she edited and wrote analyses of Middle Eastern issues. Lohmann is a graduate of Stanford University.

She said, “I see myself as a storyteller and a mediator — one who hopes to open people’s eyes to the beauty, wonder, and diversity in our world and help them recognize the common humanity that we share.”

The selection committee said: “She’s an entrepreneurial content strategist. Her plan to focus her storytelling skills on a deserving region of conflict is worthy unto itself, but Ashley wisely plans to supplement the journalism with approaches sure to extend its impact. Supplemental to the Beyond the Bombs website, her ideas for a film could give added exposure on TV, and items from the region seem to have more merit than selling plastic yellow bracelets. This multifaceted approach is one to watch — and so is she.” See Lohmann’s project.

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Kyle Stokes, 24

A reporter for StateImpact Indiana, a collaboration of WFIU and Indiana Public Broadcasting focusing on how a particular issue affects people and communities. A graduate of the University of Missouri, his work has won Edward R. Murrow and Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI) awards and he has been a finalist in the Society for Professional Journalists (SPJ) Best of Indiana awards.

Said Kyle of his work, “I see myself developing traditional journalism organizations’ capacity for not only reporting news online but in developing authority and presence in online communities.” The selection committee said: “The reporting, blogging, tweeting, data-viz-ing journalist at Indiana’s StateImpact makes his beat come alive. His charming videos are so clear they’ve been used in classrooms and budget meetings.” See Stokes’ work.

Connect and learn more.

“You hear this a lot, but we had a really hard time picking top fellows this year,” said Amy Eisman, Chair of the MJ Bear Fellowship Committee. “All of the finalists’ entries were creative, crisp, surprising — and they left us confident about the future of our industry. We also were pleased to see a steadily growing number of applicants, which means MJ Bear’s intent — to spotlight upcoming digital journalists — was spot on.”

Each fellow will be paired with a digital news leader as a career development mentor for one year, and also will receive a free three-year ONA membership and an expense-paid trip to the Online News Association Conference & Awards Banquet, Oct. 17-19, in Atlanta.

Ashley will work with mentor Georgia Popplewell, managing director of Global Voices, an international community of bloggers who report on blogs and citizen media from around the world; Kyle with Josh Williams, a multimedia editor on the graphics desk of The New York Times, and Armie with Geoff Spencer, Head of Programming in Greater Asia Pacific for Microsoft Apps, Media and Publishing.

The selection committee felt so strongly about the work and potential of three other applicants that they were awarded honorable mention. They are: Ivan Yanushkevich, 25, a freelancer in Kyrgyzstan and developer of Politmer.KG, a project for a civic foundation that tracks the promises of politicians; Leslie Young, 28, web coordinator for Global News, the news division of the Global Television Network in Toronto, Canada, and Alejandra Matos, 22, data visualization reporter for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

The selection committee includes:

  • Amy Eisman, Chair, American University
  • Anne Saul, News/Video Consultant, former Gannett Systems Editor, MJ Bear Fellowship Coordinator
  • Jody Brannon, Editor, The Next America, The National Journal, ONA Board Secretary
  • Dominique Lempereur-Babeanu, General Manager, Microsoft Online Media Publishing Americas
  • Klemens Dreesbach, Global Strategy Manager, Microsoft Online Media Publishing Media Academy
  • Blake Carpenter, Audit Associate, Grant Thornton, LLP, and MJ Bear’s nephew
  • Sarah Hoye, All-Platform Journalist, CNN
  • Laura Amico
, CEO, Homicide Watch and Founder, Editor, Homicide Watch D.C. and 
2011 MJ Bear Fellow
  • Jonathan Hart, Member, Dow Lohnes PLLC, and ONA Counsel
  • Jane McDonnell, ONA Executive Director

MJ Bear, whose wide-ranging career took her to pivotal roles at Microsoft’s MSN Portals and MSN International, NPR and American University, was renowned for her kindness and digital know-how. She played a vital role in ONA’s history as a member of the original Board of Directors, helping to incorporate the organization in 1999 and serving on the Education, Fundraising, Conference and Legal Affairs committees until 2003.

You can donate to the MJ Bear Fellowship fund with our online form.

Jeremiah Patterson

Jeremiah Patterson

Jeremiah was ONA's Digital Manager from 2012 to the fall of 2016 and was responsible for ONA's collection of websites, including, conference websites, the membership center, awards platforms and more. Before joining ONA, he served as a web producer and content developer at The Wildlife Society, maintaining the organization’s website, email marketing and other online services. An Ohio native and media enthusiast, Jeremiah grew up with a deep interest in video production and graphic design. He now focuses in user experience and human-centered design.