COVID-19 reporting fellowships for NJ ethnic and community media

Sixteen reporters will produce coronavirus stories during the four-month fellowship

The Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University is proud to introduce you to our 16 COVID-19 reporting fellows. This fellowship is part of a project at the Center to support ethnic and community news outlets in New Jersey as they cover coronavirus in their communities.

The diverse group of fellows consists of multimedia reporters and editors — including those who publish in Chinese, Korean and Spanish, as well as African American, Pakistani and Bangladeshi online, broadcast and print publications. The fellows are covering a vast range of topics and information on the coronavirus pandemic for the immigrants and people of color that they serve in the state.

The fellows began publishing and broadcasting their stories in May. Through the lens of their communities, the projects take a closer look at the barriers and challenges that low-income and vulnerable communities disproportionately face in the time of the COVID-19 crisis.

Some of the topics the fellows will explore through their reporting and storytelling include:

Over the course of this four-month fellowship, recipients will receive reporting training from leading health, government and journalism experts in New Jersey to update them on the latest developments on the coronavirus and help them carry out their reporting so that their communities get first-hand and reliable information.

Each fellow will also receive a $1,500 stipend to support their projects, thanks to Democracy Fund.

The latest from our reporting fellows:

Without a COVID-19 vaccine, use of unproven traditional remedies surges in NJ Filipino community

By Marivir R. Montebon
July 27, 2020

Despite warnings from scientists and health officials that natural remedies are by no means a medically proven treatment for various diseases, Filipinos in New Jersey could not be stopped from using traditional remedies to fight the coronavirus. (OSM! Magazine)

Why are Black people being hit so hard by COVID-19?

By Raymond Tyler
July 16, 2020

Dr. Jon Regis president of Reliance Medical Group (their offices have been open through out the pandemic) discussed with The Light’s Raymond Tyler why Black people seem to be suffering more from COVID-19. (Shore Local News)

Korean restaurants in New Jersey reel as new coronavirus infections rise and indoor dining stalled

By Jun Hyong Sook
July 7, 2020

Korean restaurants are designed to be indoors. Known for their meat barbecues, or gogigui (meat roast for Korean), these restaurants offer a unique experience where diners gather around a gas or charcoal grill in the middle of the table to cook and eat together. (K-Radio 1660 AM)

View the English translation.

COVID-19 impacts African Americans hardest due to ‘legacy of inequality’

By D. Kevin McNeir
June 26, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has exposed long-persisting racial disparities in health and health care. African-American patients with COVID-19 remain 2.7 times more likely than Non-Hispanic white COVID-19 patients to be hospitalized and with more severe symptoms, per a recent study in the medical journal Health Affairs. (NJ Urban News)

‘I felt so alone’: Daughter shares pain and joy of taking care of her parents who contracted COVID-19

By Marivir Montebon
June 26, 2020

Despite her ordeal, Jessie Ruiz said she would do anything for her parents. The coronavirus may have given her anxiety and depression, but taking care of her parents brought her much closer to them. (OSM! Online Magazine)

For the first time in Korean church history, NJ and NY Koreans hold memorial service for Black victims of police brutality

By Eun Sook Lim
June 23, 2020

For the first time in Korean church history, members of the Korean American community in New Jersey and New York prayed and joined together in a virtual memorial service that was both the celebration and mourning of African American men and women who died at the hands of white police officers. (The Korea Daily)

View the English translation.

Amid coronavirus in NJ, young Korean Americans in matchmaking tradition change perception of dating and marriage

By Ilgon Kim
June 22, 2020

In the time of coronavirus, when most potential couples are in quarantine, many young Koreans are pondering deeply the meaning of dating and marriage — and the more they contemplate on the process, the more it changes their views as well as the role of their matchmaker. (The Korea Daily)

View the English translation.

Reverse migration: Koreans in New Jersey seek shelter from COVID-19 — in South Korea

By Eun Sook Lim
June 19, 2020

In New Jersey and New York, more and more Korean Americans, like Kim and Lee, are returning to South Korea since the coronavirus outbreak. The idea of returning to their homeland, temporarily or permanently, has become a household conversation among Korean families. (The Korea Daily)

View the English translation.

With no safety net, funding woes mount strain on undocumented business owners in Newark

By Maria del Carmen Amado
June 17, 2020

Essex County has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the state, with nearly 19,000 people tested positive for the virus and more than 1,750 deaths, but there is one particular demographic group in Newark that has been hit hard by the coronavirus: undocumented immigrants. (New Jersey Hispano)

View the English translation.

Essential but disposable: Latino workers bear brunt of labor inequality during pandemic

By Kleibeel Marcano
June 11, 2020

While thousands of Latino workers are risking their lives to feed families, take care of the elderly, clean homes, tend farmlands, or bring meals and toiletries to people’s doorstep, many of them are earning sub-minimum wages and working long hours without paid leave. (Reporte Hispano)

View the English translation.

Unsung heroes: Filipino healthcare workers on COVID-19 frontlines

By Don Tagala
June 1, 2020

Of the 94 Filipino Americans who died of COVID-19, 40 of them worked at the front lines. Many of whom were nurses, EMT and doctors in New Jersey and New York hospitals. (ABS-CBN News)

AHCA/NCAL CEO weighs in on challenges facing nation’s skilled nursing facilities

By D. Kevin McNeir
May 29, 2020

The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living [AHCA/NCAL], representing more than 14,000 nursing homes and long term care facilities across the country that provide care to approximately five million people each year, recently released the following statement after HHS announced $4.9 billion in funding to help skilled nursing facilities respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. (NJ Urban News)

No time to say goodbye: Korean families struggle with funeral changes amid COVID-19

By Hyong Sook Jun
May 29, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the funeral culture of all immigrant communities in New York and New Jersey. Like other ethnic groups, Korea’s funeral culture is no different. (K-Radio)

View the English translation.

African Americans in Atlantic City face mental health risks during the pandemic

By Raymond Tyler
May 21, 2020

A church is an essential place for many African Americans; it’s where they seek refuge during almost every crisis. But COVID-19 has taken away their access to the church. Here’s a Q&A with a therapist on how the Black community in Atlantic City is coping with mental stress during this pandemic. (Shore Local)

How two generations of Chinese Americans fight racism and the coronavirus

By Rong Xiaoqing
May 17, 2020

In New Jersey and other parts of the country, Asian Americans have reported an uptick in racist verbal and physical harassment. Representing only 6 percent of the U.S. population, the bigoted incidents have left Asian Americans in a bind. But a group of second-generation Chinese Americans in Fort Lee, NJ have raised funds to help those impacted by the pandemic, hoping to build a positive image of Asians in the community. (Sing Tao Daily)

Amerikai magyarok a koronavírus és a halál árnyékában

By Laszlo Bartus
May 15, 2020

A carpenter who lost his job, a caregiver who worked in a nursing home, and a bus driver who could no longer support his family — they are among the Hungarian immigrants in New Jersey whose lives have been upended by COVID-19. (Amerikai Nepszava)

View the English translation.

Video: ‘Risking my life to put food on your table’

By Diego Maya
15 Mayo 2020

Featured in a short video essay, Latino essential workers in the restaurant industry are risking their lives to ensure health, safety and security of NJ residents by delivering their food and serving their meals. (The Latino Spirit)

De vivir el “sueño americano”, a descubrir que son invisibles para el gobierno

By Kleibeel Marcano
14 Mayo 2020

On February 14, Robert Mejía, his wife and two children contracted the coronavirus. In less than a week, all of them were admitted at Morristown Medical Center for COVID-19. But as a family with mixed immigration status, not all of them qualify for public assistance in the time of pandemic. (Reporte Hispano)

View the English translation.

More about the fellows and their projects:

Kwangok Sung, reporter, K-Radio AM 1660 (in Korean)
Project: To examine the pricey cost of dying during the coronavirus pandemic, and the effects on Korean businesses in New Jersey.

Abu Taher, editor and reporter, TiME TV and Bangla Patrika (in Bangla)
Project: To report on Bangladeshi families with loved ones who died from COVID-19 complications and how Bangladeshi businesses-owners — including taxi and Uber drivers — have been affected by the coronavirus shutdown.

Carlos Avila, reporter, El Latino News/The Nubian News (in Spanish)
Project: To look into the cultural, language, socio-economic, medical and technological barriers that New Jersey’s undocumented Latino immigrants face during the coronavirus pandemic.

Adonis Tagala, reporter, ABS-CBN News (in English/Tagalog)
Project: To chronicle the lives of Filipino nurses , doctors and other allied medical work in New Jersey. Reports say that 75 Filipinos have tested positive and succumbed to Covid 19 — and 28 of them were front-line health care workers who died after serving as nurses, doctors, and other allied medical workers

Laszlo Bartus, editor and publisher, Amerikai Nepszava (in Hungarian)
Project: To report on the lives of Hungarian immigrants in New Jersey affected by COVID-19 pandemic.

Jongwon Lee, reporter, The Korea Daily — New Jersey (in Korean)
Project: To write about how Koreans in New Jersey struggle with the lack of protective equipment and medical care.

Kevin McNeir, editor, NJ Urban News (in English)
Project: To explore the disparities — increased exposure to the virus, underlying susceptibility and limited access to health care and testing — and what, if anything, is being done or should be done to reduce these inequities among Black New Jersey residents.

Maria Amado, publisher and editor, New Jersey Hispano (in Spanish)
Project: To look at how Latino immigrants in several New Jersey counties— specifically, Bergen, Hudson, Essex and Passaic — have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Kerith Gabriel, reporter, The Philadelphia Weekly (in English)
Project: To examine how essential Black workers in Camden are compensated, as well as how businesses in South Jersey are coping with the shift from traditional in-person business to online only.

Rong Xiaoqing, reporter, Sing Tao Daily (in Chinese)
Project: To feature Chinese immigrants living in New Jersey who are hardest hit by COVID-19 because of rising racism against Asians.

Marivir Montebon, editor and publisher, OSM! Magazine (in English/Tagalog)
Project: To take a look at how Filipino families turn to alternative medicine due to the absence of COVID-19 vaccine.

Kleibeel Marcano, editor, Reporte Hispano (in Spanish)
Project: To investigate what the state government is doing to help Latino residents in New Jersey.

Diego Maya, reporter and editor, The Latino Spirit (in Spanish)
Project: To do a mini-series of videos on Latino workers in New Jersey affected by COVID-19 pandemic.

Mohsin Zaheer, reporter, Urdu News (in Urdu)
Project: To report on the low-income Pakistani immigrants in New Jersey as they confront the challenges of losing their jobs or closing their businesses — the only means of their survival — in time of the coronavirus crisis.

Raymond Tyler, reporter and producer, The Shore and WPPM FM 106.5 (in English)
Project: To examine the health of and healthcare for African Americans — who are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 — in the Atlantic City area.

Walid Rabah, editor and publisher, Arab Voice (in Arabic)
Project: To write stories about Arab immigrants in New Jersey affected by COVID-19.

About the Center for Cooperative Media: The Center is a grant-funded program of the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University. Its mission is to grow and strengthen local journalism, and in doing so serve New Jersey residents. The Center is supported with funding from Montclair State University, the Geraldine R. Dodge FoundationDemocracy Fund, the New Jersey Local News Lab (a partnership of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Democracy Fund, and Community Foundation of New Jersey), and the Abrams Foundation. For more information, visit