Texas-based journalist and USC Annenberg alumnus Waylon Cunningham has been selected as the inaugural Sir Harry Evans Global Fellow in Investigative Journalism. The former Selden Ring Fellow for Investigative Journalism at USC Annenberg earned his MS in journalism in 2020.
Cunningham — who is currently a reporter at the San Antonio Report — will receive a fellowship with Durham University beginning in early 2023 that involves pursuing a six-to-nine-month investigative project from inside the Reuters newsroom in London. He will be mentored by top Reuters editors in the field and have access to Durham University academics and research resources.
The judges were impressed by Cunningham’s enterprise, tenacity and commitment to rigorous fact-finding. They also valued his determination to expose those who take advantage of people in no position to fight back.
“There aren’t many journalists from America’s rural Deep South, but I’m one of them,” Cunningham said in his application. “I was raised in a mobile home in East Texas, where I learned to string barbed wire for cattle fences before I knew how to read.”
Cunningham added: “It’s an honor to be selected for this phenomenal opportunity. Reuters’ data-driven investigations are unmatched, and Durham University offers world-class expertise and resources. I’m eager to learn as much as I can.”
Cunningham, 29, has published his work in the Los Angeles Times, the Austin Chronicle, the Texas Observer, the Liberty Hill Independent and the Maryville Daily Times. His current beat at the San Antonio Report is business and technology.He studied data science and new media storytelling at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Journalism, where he was the 2020 Selden Ring Fellow for Investigative Journalism.
Alessandra Galloni, Reuters Editor-in-Chief, said: “I am delighted that Waylon will be the first fellow on the Sir Harry Evans Global Fellowship. His application showed him to be a journalist of originality and determination, with a distinctive vantage point on the world: trademarks of Sir Harry’s journalism. He has huge potential and I look forward to welcoming him to Reuters newsroom and our award-winning investigative team.”
Professor Karen O’Brien, Vice-Chancellor and Warden of Durham University, said: “Durham University is a world-leading centre of research with a proud history of uncovering truths on the basis of evidence and enquiry. As Sir Harry’s university, we are very pleased to be hosting the Sir Harry Evans Memorial Fund, employing the successful fellow and supporting the Sir Harry Evans Global Summit in Investigative Journalism. I congratulate Waylon on his appointment and we look forward to welcoming him to the University community.”
Tina Brown CBE, Sir Harry’s widow and acclaimed former magazine editor and author, said: “I know that Harry would have wanted to hire Waylon in a heartbeat. He has all the makings of an outstanding career in journalism and the fellowship will greatly extend his range and experience.”
The Sir Harry Evans Global Fellowship in Investigative Journalism is part of a program honoring celebrated British-born journalist, editor and author Sir Harry Evans, one of the pioneers of modern investigative journalism. Sir Harry (1928-2020) was an undergraduate at University College, Durham, and became internationally celebrated as the crusading editor of The Sunday Times under the paper’s ownership by Lord [Roy] Thomson. The work he spearheaded throughout his career, from corporate investigations to revelations of government wrongdoing and incompetence, created a model for reporting in the public interest and demonstrated the real-world impact journalism can have.
The fellowship launched in Sir Harry’s honor is designed to give promising early-career journalists the opportunity to develop rigorous, fact-based reporting skills. The fellow will be supported by Durham University’s Institute of Advanced Study, which hosts projects and international fellows working across academic disciplines.
For more information visit Reuters Media Center.