Introducing the 2021 MJ Bear Fellows

Stand-out journalists under age 30 pushing innovation in digital news

By on June 9, 2021

The Online News Association today announced the 2021 MJ Bear Fellows, digital journalists under age 30 whose innovative work represents the best of the industry.

Now in its 10th year, the yearlong MJ Bear Fellowship is designed to provide support as early-career journalists work on an innovative digital project. Fellows benefit from guidance on a digital journalism project, networking within the industry, complimentary ONA membership for three years and opportunities to showcase their work to ONA’s global community. From June 22–25, they will attend the virtual 2021 Online News Association Conference (ONA21) to learn alongside peers and industry leaders focused on audience engagement, product and digital business strategy.

The 2021 MJ Bear Fellows are:

Adriana Lacy is freelance journalist and an adjunct lecturer in the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. She is the founder of Journalism Mentors, a website dedicated to advancing student and early-career journalists by connecting them to mentors and paid internship and job opportunities.
Beena Raghavendran is an Engagement Reporter at ProPublica, collaborating with reporters across the United States to boost audience voice and engagement in stories. Beena is dedicated to expanding news accessibility for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and has experimented with approaches ranging from virtual storytelling events to plain-language audio recordings.
Canela López, Health Reporter at Insider, Inc., specializes in the intersection of race, gender identity, sexuality and politics. Canela is working on The Transgender Homicide Project—a database to track every killing of a transgender person in the United States. The project has found a steady rise in transphobic attacks in the U.S. and aims to call attention to the trends behind them.
Caroline Bauman, Community Engagement Strategist at Chalkbeat, is building a system to efficiently track the diversity of sources over the time and ensure Chalkbeat’s journalism is representative of the diverse communities they serve. The project aims to create a replicable resource that any newsroom can use to audit, track and improve their source diversity.
Jasmine Lee writes the daily newsletter High Tide at the Harbour Times, a multimedia outlet reporting on policy and diplomacy in Hong Kong. Recent issues of High Tide have covered the latest updates in protest-related cases and the city’s vaccination efforts against COVID-19.
Natalie Van Hoozer is a freelance journalist and the Spanish/English bilingual reporter and community engagement coordinator for KUNR Public Radio (Reno, Nevada). Natalie is developing a Spanish-language WhatsApp newsletter for KUNR Public Radio, creating a direct connection between the newsroom and the community.

2021 Selection Committee

  • Alex Laughlin, Transmitter Pods, 2016 MJ Bear Fellow
  • Anand Katakam, Reuters, 2018 MJ Bear Fellow
  • Amy Eisman, American University, MJ Bear Fellowship Chair
  • Anne Saul, retired
  • Jake Carpenter, CNN
  • Jody Brannon, Center for Journalism & Liberty
  • Kelly Moffit, Columbia University, 2017 MJ Bear Fellow
  • Laura Amico, Harvard Business Review, 2011 MJ Bear Fellow

The MJ Bear Fellowship is made possible through generous contributions by the MJ Bear Estate, friends of MJ Bear and ONA, Microsoft and MSN International.


Mary Jane “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.

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The Online News Association was founded in 1999 as a forum for digital news pioneers to collaborate on common challenges and encourage the highest journalistic standards. Become an ONA member or make a donation to sustain our mission to inspire and support innovation and excellence in digital journalism.