Investigative reporter Callie Ferguson works on a story.
Callie Ferguson has been selected as one of seven reporters nationwide to join The New York Times' Local Investigations Fellowship to report on a signature investigative work over the next year. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik

The New York Times announced Thursday that it has selected a reporter from the Bangor Daily News as one of seven journalists nationwide to join its inaugural local investigative reporting fellowship program.

Callie Ferguson, an investigative reporter on the BDN’s Maine Focus team, will spend up to a year, starting this month, producing stories focused on Maine’s juvenile justice system with The Times’ Local Investigations Fellowship program. The work will be co-published by The Times and the BDN.

“Callie’s work, especially in covering Maine’s justice system, has been exemplary,” said Todd Benoit, president of the BDN. “We’re thrilled and proud that The Times has recognized the excellent work she has been doing here, and look forward to seeing the results of her work in the fellowship program.”

Ferguson began working at the BDN in 2017 as a reporter covering breaking news. In 2018 she joined the Maine Focus team, centering her beat on criminal justice.

She has helped uncover how female soldiers in Maine experienced retaliation after reporting sexual assault, exposed the human cost of the increasing number of people being held in jail while awaiting trial and revealed how jail guards sexually harassed their co-workers and kept their jobs.

Her reporting has resulted in new Maine laws, prompted investigations into wrongdoing, ousted toxic leaders and stopped people from losing their homes. After she chronicled the experience of a man in solitary confinement who repeatedly tried to kill himself, a district attorney released him from prison earlier than expected.

Ferguson also contributed to work that led to a successful lawsuit brought by the Bangor Daily News and the Portland Press Herald against the Maine State Police, forcing the agency to release information about officer misconduct that it had wrongly kept secret.

And she was part of the team that provided the first-ever statewide look at misconduct among Maine sheriff’s deputies and county corrections officers, revealing how they were able to keep their certifications despite actions that would have cost them their careers in other states with more oversight.

The fellowship is run by Dean Baquet, the former executive editor of The Times. The program gives journalists the opportunity to produce signature investigative work focused on their state or region.

“There was so much talent out there and so many good ideas. These were hard choices. But this is a remarkable group of reporters. And their work will have an impact on their communities,” Baquet said in The Times’ announcement about the fellowship awards on Thursday.

Donate today to support accountability journalism at the BDN. Join grantors, funders and thousands of other readers in keeping critical accountability reporting strong.

Other fellows hail from Hawaii, Mississippi, Maryland and Wisconsin. In addition to Ferguson, the fellows in the inaugural class are:

— Shalina Chatlini, a reporter for States Newsroom in New Orleans. Chatlani, who was raised in Mississippi, will live in Jackson for a year to examine the state’s health care system.

— Ilyssa Daly, a reporter for the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting at Mississippi Today. Daly will report on local law enforcement agencies throughout the state.

— Sarah Fowler, a freelance journalist based in Jackson, Mississippi. Fowler will investigate the ongoing water crisis in Jackson, where crumbling infrastructure has routinely left the capital city without drinkable water.

— Mario Koran, a reporter for Wisconsin Watch. Koran will examine the state’s Department of Corrections.

— Blaze Lovell, a reporter for Honolulu Civil Beat. Lovell will write about emergency and no-bid contracts awarded by the state.

— Alissa Zhu, a reporter for The Baltimore Banner. Zhu will report on the state’s opioid crisis.

The work produced by the inaugural fellows will be primarily edited by Baquet; Chris Davis, deputy for the Local Investigations Fellowship; Adam Playford, a data and investigations editor who has helped oversee multiple Pulitzer Prize-winning projects; and Rebecca Corbett, a senior investigative editor at The Times who has led some of the newsroom’s most notable work, including allegations of sexual harassment against Harvey Weinstein and the secret surveillance of Americans by the National Security Agency.

Big Local News, a data-sharing journalism lab based at Stanford University, will work with the fellows on obtaining and analyzing data for their projects and providing ongoing training on investigative data techniques.

The fellowship was introduced to help develop the next generation of reporters to produce accountability journalism at the local level. In addition to producing investigative work, fellows will be provided with frequent training opportunities to learn investigative reporting techniques and make trips to The Times’ New York offices for additional training and mentorship. Times editors will also visit fellows in their reporting regions.

Avatar photo

Erin Rhoda

Erin Rhoda is the editor of Maine Focus, a team that conducts journalism investigations and projects at the Bangor Daily News. She also writes for the newspaper, often centering her work on domestic and...