Human rights journalist joins CIS

Fortin, an American journalist based in Africa, will be in residence at the Center as the 2016-17 Elizabeth Neuffer Fellow
September 8, 2016

CAMBRIDGE, MA—The Center for International Studies at MIT announces today that Jacey Fortin, a freelance journalist who is based in Africa, has been selected as the 2016/17 IWMF Elizabeth Neuffer Fellow. The fellowship is offered through the International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF) and is sponsored in part by CIS. The award provides a unique academic and professional opportunity for women journalists focusing on human rights and social justice reporting.

Beginning in September, Fontin will spend the seven-month fellowship as a research associate in residence at CIS. She will also complete journalism internships with The Boston Globe and The New York Times. She aims to use the fellowship to sharpen her investigative, finance, and data journalism skills to uncover the deeper trends that drive current events around the world.

Since launching her freelance career three years ago, Jacey Fortin has covered human rights, politics, economic development, and media freedom in the Horn of Africa. She has focused on conflict as well, reporting on the civil war in South Sudan, militancy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and violent unrest in Ethiopia, where she is based. Her articles and photographs have appeared in The New York Times, Foreign Policy, The Africa Report, Agence France-Presse, Al Jazeera, and others.

Much of Fortin’s work revolves around the theme of human rights, with a focus on how people’s basic demands can be silenced through political repression, economic hardship, or conflict.

Fortin is from New Bedford, Massachusetts, and earned her undergraduate degree at Northeastern University in Boston. She first entered the field of journalism in New York, where she worked for the International Business Times covering world news with a focus on the Middle East and Africa. In 2013, she moved to Ethiopia to jumpstart a freelance career.

“I’m lucky that my freelancing work has led me to cover such a wide variety of issues, but that has also made it difficult to focus on any one thing,” Fortin said. “I know my reporting will be stronger if I can take the time to study subjects like trade, finance, and international law – subjects that are complicated but important, because they drive and inform the current events that I cover. The Elizabeth Neuffer Fellowship will give me the opportunity I need to build that foundation of knowledge, and to learn from the best at The Boston Globe and The New York Times.”

The fellowship was created in memory of Elizabeth Neuffer, The Boston Globe correspondent and 1998 IWMF Courage in Journalism Award winner. Neuffer died while reporting in Iraq on May 9, 2003. In collaboration with Neuffer’s family and friends, the IWMF started this program to honor her legacy while advancing her work in the fields of human rights and social justice.

Fortin is the 12th journalist to win the fellowship. Neuffer Fellows advance their reporting expertise while exploring a wide range of issues including gender-based violence, indigenous rights and freedom of speech. For more information about the fellowship, visit

The Center for International Studies (CIS) supports interna­tional research and education at MIT. It is the home of MIT’s Security Studies Program; the MIT International Science & Technology Initiative, its pioneering global education program; the Program on Emerging Technologies; and seminars and research on migration, South Asia politics, the Middle East, cybersecurity, nuclear weapons, and East Asia. The Center has traditionally been aligned with the social sciences while also working with MIT’s premier science and engineering scholars. CIS produces research that creatively addresses global issues while helping to educate the next generation of global citizens.