Friendship Park was inaugurated by First Lady Patricia Nixon on August 18, 1971. The park stretches from the Pacific Ocean across a mesa a half acre long. It straddles the border between the United States and Mexico. Friendship Park is binational, its circumference embraces Imperial Beach, California and Playas de Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico. © Aryana Noroozi

Last Updated on May 16, 2022 by BVN

S. E. Williams |

Black Voice News is proud to be selected as a host newsroom for one of CatchLight’s next five fellows as the organization continues its support of new models for Visual Journalism in local news.  

CatchLight, a visual-first media organization, has selected five visual journalists as CatchLight Local Fellows, partially subsidizing their full time staff positions as they join California partner news organizations. They are part of a groundbreaking collaborative initiative to transform a local news landscape that has seen newsroom visual journalism staff nationwide sliced in half over the past decade. 

The CatchLight Local Fellows will become part of the CatchLight Local Visual Desk in California, a new collaborative model for visual journalism that funds five to ten Visual Journalism Fellows, a Visual Editor, and CatchLight’s Editorial and Engagement Director for the next three years to help advance visual representation in local news in California. 

“This is such an exciting time for CatchLight to be able to bring back the power of visual journalism in local newsrooms in California through long term staff positions,” said Elodie Mailliet Storm, CatchLight’s CEO. “Visuals have the unique ability to create empathy, establish common ground and effectively build trust in local news sources of information.”

In addition to those philanthropic organizations, Report for America is a partner, offering financial support to cover a portion of three of the journalists’ $60,000 salaries.

Black Voice News

On June 1, the CatchLight Local Fellows will join news organizations based in California’s Inland Empire, the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento as staff members for a minimum of one year (positions can be renewed for up to three years). Each Fellow, in addition to covering daily assignments, will undertake longform visual journalism features, as well as community engagement projects to further connect their newsroom to the local community. For most of the newsrooms, this will be the first time they have had a full-time visual journalist on staff and represents a significant development.

Photojournalist and digital artist Aryana Michelle Noroozi is joining the Black Voice News team effective June 1, 2022.

Joining the team at Black Voice News as a CatchLight/RFA corps member is photojournalist and digital artist Aryana Michelle Noroozi. Naroozi, who earned her master’s degree at The Columbia Graduate School of Journalism has been featured in the San Diego Union Tribune and the Los Angeles Times.

“In 2022, the Black Voice News is celebrating our 50th anniversary and this collaboration with CatchLight and Report for America is allowing us for the first time to employ a full-time visual journalist. We have long understood the power that images have in storytelling and are looking forward to being a Catchlight Local California Visual Desk newsroom to bring that power to our growing solutions-focused data reporting team,” said Paulette Brown-Hinds, Publisher, Black Voice News.

Other new CatchLight corps members include Harika Maddala Bay City News, Ximena Natera who will be part of the Berkeleyside team, Sree Sripathy is joining the India Currents newsroom and Larry Valenzuela is being welcomed by CalMatters

“We believe deeply in the power of visual journalism to inform and unite communities. CatchLight is leading the way,” said Kevin Grant, Co-Founder and Chief Content Officer of The GroundTruth Project and Vice President at Report for America. “We are so proud to deepen our relationship with this phenomenal team.” 

The news organizations that will host the newly selected Fellows range widely in size and scope. CalMatters is nonpartisan, nonprofit journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s State Capitol works and why it matters; India Currents is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, multi-platform ethnic media organization focused on the Indian American community; Berkeleyside is a nonprofit news organization serving the city of Berkeley; Bay City News is a nonprofit news site that provides free, data-driven, public service journalism to the San Francisco Bay Area; and Black Voice News is an Inland Empire news site focusing on solutions-oriented and data-driven reporting.

“Changing the tide to focus on creating visual resources to better document stories affecting local communities has become more critical than ever for photojournalism work, allowing a better understanding of what solutions may emerge, a need at the heart of many communities today. CatchLight Fellows are doing just that through their impactful work in communities in California and beyond,” said Xin Liu, President of Enlight Foundation.

“As newspapers shed jobs, photo departments have been hit hard. Coverage in the SF Bay Area has suffered greatly. Communities previously flush with news coverage are now passed over for bigger news and issues. I am incredibly excited for the opportunity to work with CatchLight Local, visually documenting issues of overlooked Bay Area communities to identify their causes and explore possible solutions,” said Bay City News Photo Editor Ray Saint Germain.

This initiative was made possible with the support of five philanthropic organizations: the Enlight Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Hearst Foundations, in partnership with PhotoWings. 
Black Voice News depends on the support of readers like you in our efforts to expand coverage of local stories important to this community.  Please follow this link to support the work of Aryana Noroozi and the other members of the Black Voice Newsroom’s Report for America corps team.

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S.E. Williams

Stephanie Williams is executive editor of the IE Voice and Black Voice News. A longtime champion for civil rights and justice in all its forms, she is also an advocate for government transparency and committed to ferreting out and exposing government corruption. Stephanie has received awards for her investigative reporting and for her weekly column, Keeping it Real. Contact Stephanie with tips, comments. or concerns at myopinion@ievoice.com.