Bliss Zechman (BS/JEM ’17) completed her News 21 2017 summer fellowship project, “Troubled Water” alongside a small cadre of outstanding journalism students from across the country. The highly selective Carnegie-Knight News21 program at Arizona State University focuses on an annual multi-faceted investigative reporting project.
Zechman contributed to two of the eleven chapters, Industrial Polluters and Health Effects, as well as the project documentary. Prior to the project launch, Zechman also contributed to blogs, which sketched out the parameters of the final product. The complete work of the 2017 News21 team can be found at https://troubledwater.news21.com/.
“Troubled Water” focuses on the accessibility to clean water throughout the United States. The student team reported on water crises from several hard-hit locations. Zechman covered water issues associated with the unique EPA Superfund Site at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and industrial polluted water near Waycross, Georgia.
“This investigative project was the most difficult undertaking of my journalistic career thus far,”said Zechman. “While we worked as a team (and near the end, as a family) to launch the product, we were also competing to put the best ideas and words out there. It was incredibly intimidating to submit my work to Pulitzer Prize winning editors, but their critiques strengthened my work (as well as my backbone) more than I can express. I am beyond grateful to everyone at the University of Tennessee and to John and Patty Williams for making this experience possible.”
Zechman’s participation was made possible by a generous gift from CCI Board of Visitors Chair John T. Williams (BS/JEM ’71) and his wife, Patty (IS ’86), of Kingsport, Tennessee. 2017 marked the fourth year in a row that a JEM senior was selected to participate in the News21 program. Previous fellows included: Taylor Gilmore (BS/JEM ’16), Rilwan Balogun (BS/JEM ’15), and Jackie DelPilar (BS/JEM ’14).