AAN Announces 2015 Diversity Scholarship Recipients

AAN has awarded diversity scholarships to Arkansas Times associate editor Benjamin Hardy, L.A. Weekly food editor Sarah Bennett, and The Source Weekly associate editor Erin Rook.

Each will receive a $400 grant to cover travel to Salt Lake City for the 2015 AAN Convention, and AAN will cover their $350 conference registration fee.

Benjamin Hardy joined the Arkansas Times this past fall and promptly broke the story of the ‘re-homing’ of two young girls who were adopted and subsequently abandoned by Arkansas Rep. Justin Harris and his wife. The two girls ended up in the care of a man who sexually abused them. The story gained national attention and led directly to the passage of legislation to criminalize re-homing. Hardy is also an AAN Awards finalist this year for his coverage of the aftermath of the Mayflower Oil Spill.

Sarah Bennett‘s journalism career started with a $15/week gig as a columnist. “I called a local record store and convinced the person who answered to tell me their favorite record that week,” Bennett explained in her application. “I dutifully typed their response and the resulting conversation was published as a column called Shop Assistant, or as it was more affectionately known in the office, ‘Shop Ass.'” She later contributed to the music section of the now-defunct The District Weekly in Long Beach, Calif., and freelanced for both OC Weekly and L.A. Weekly before being named food editor of the latter in November.

Erin Rook is one of just two full-time editorial staffers at The Source Weekly in Bend, Ore. For the past two years, he has been a host committee member of LGBT Media Journalists Convening, an annual invite-only forum hosted by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. “I spend a lot of time thinking about who isn’t in the room—included on the masthead, quoted as experts in stories, represented on our covers,” said Rook. “As LGBTQ topics increasingly find their way into the media landscape, it’s important that weeklies have staff and leadership that understand how to cover them smartly, and with sensitivity.”

The AAN diversity scholarship program was created in 2012 to support the development of the next generation of journalists and journalism managers in alternative newsmedia.

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