By Veronika Lleshi
Walking off the plane, Nicole Lewis made her way throughout the unknown airport. Looking around at her settings, she felt a burst of happiness as she took in the fact that she had finally landed in Starkville, MS to do her first travel report as an intern for the Hechinger Report, a nonprofit news website dedicated to covering social justice issues in education.
While covering school desegregation cases and collecting student enrollment data, Lewis had heard about a district in Starksville that had been dissolved, moving the mostly Black students to a predominantly white district. Immediately, she knew there was a story to be told, which led her to the small Missouri town.
“I was so glad Hechinger’s editors agreed this was a story worth pursuing,” said Lewis. “The only way to report a story like this is to be face to face with parents and students and school administrators.”
Now, following her three year experience as an adjunct lecturer for MEDPL 201: Reporting and Writing I, Lewis returns to Hunter College where she’ll use her investigative and data reporting experience at the Hechinger Report and other outlets to teach students in the new social justice journalism class.
In addition to her new role as professor, Lewis currently works as the senior editor at Slate Magazine, an online magazine that covers politics, current affairs and culture. There, she spends her time editing and assigning stories to a team of three reporters.
In addition to writing about the decisions by the Supreme Court, Lewis and her team cover the increase in political vigilantism and laws such as the abortion ban in Texas and those that limit discussions about race and sexuality such as Florida’s recent “Don’t say gay” legislation.
Prior to her role at Slate Magazine, Lewis worked for the Washington Post, first interning as a political analyst for The Fix and then as a national reporter for the America Desk before becoming a reporter for the Fact Checker.
Lewis holds a Master of Arts in Journalism from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and a Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature from the University of Michigan. In her Social Justice Journalism class, she hopes to help students locate bias in the news and in themselves. To teach the students how to report on these issues, Lewis will also help students deconstruct race, gender and traditional reporting practices that can inadvertently promote inequalities.
“Students should come curious about the world around them, and in particular what it means to have power in this world,” said Lewis. “By the end of the semester, they’ll learn innovative ways of reporting and writing to engage new audiences that have traditionally not seen their worlds and experiences reflected in the mainstream media.”