Presented by the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation, the educational arm of the Society of Professional Journalists, the fellowship awards $75,000 each year to an outstanding editorial writer or columnist to help broaden his or her journalistic horizons and knowledge of the world. The award can be used to cover the cost of study, research and travel. The fellowship results in editorials and other writings, including books.
Bailey will use the fellowship to study ways that small cities in the Northeast and elsewhere have overcome legacy problems with abandoned industrial sites. These brownfields dot the landscape in countless places in the U.S. and abroad, and they are a major impediment to economic development — a problem Bailey has already begun exploring on behalf of readers.
“The point of this project would be to inspire real change at a policy level,” Bailey wrote in his fellowship application. “There must be clear, demonstrable steps cities can take within the constraints under which they are forced to operate.”
The judges found the passion he already has shown for the topic appealing, along with his fresh approach and determination to finding solutions.
“When people think of toxic legacies, they usually think of Superfund sites,” said Todd Gillman, chairman of the judging panel and Washington bureau chief of The Dallas Morning News. “This brownfields problem is often overlooked, and too easily ignored beyond the afflicted communities.”
Gillman was joined on the judges’ panel by Sandy Shea, the 2012 Pulliam fellow, Fred Brown, a former SPJ president and longtime Denver Post columnist, and Bob Davis, associate publisher/editor of The Anniston Star.
“The national dialogue typically focuses on big cities,” said Shea, who has used her 2012 fellowship to study poverty. “This is a really intriguing way to elevate the conversation about small and midsized cities.”Bailey plans to explore ways that cities in the U.S. and abroad have overcome a legacy of industrial blight.
“He’s looking for solutions, and not just bringing a problem to light,” Brown said.
Bailey’s background in planning also impressed the judges. He carved time during his newspapering career to earn a Master of Urban Planning from New York University in 2008. That allows him to bring something of an academic edge to the fellowship project, even as it reflects his deep interest in the problem.
“He’s really dedicated to the subject,” Davis said.
Bailey will be honored for the Pulliam fellowship at the Association of Opinion Journalists convention in Newport, R.I., on Oct. 15.