March, 2021

Three questions with...
2017 Fellow Jude Joffe-Block

Your Fellows project, Driving While Brown: Sheriff Joe Arpaio Versus the Latino Resistance, tells the story of Latino activists who brought down the powerful Arizona sheriff. How did this project develop? Is the finished project different from how you imagined it would be when you first started out?

In 2012, I was a public radio reporter in Phoenix and began covering a federal civil rights lawsuit Latino motorists brought against Joe Arpaio and his office for racial profiling. A few years later, I teamed up with narrative journalist Terry Greene Sterling to write a book about the lawsuit, which spoke to the bigger political fights playing out in Arizona after the state passed a spate of harsh immigration laws. Arpaio had championed those laws, and Latino activists and civil rights groups had protested and challenged them. The scope of the book changed when it became clear that Donald Trump’s presidential bid was relying on the same Arizona/Arpaio playbook to rally a base around demonizing unauthorized immigrants. Trump's presidency changed the scope of the book once again when he pardoned Arpaio for a criminal contempt of court charge—which had stemmed from violating a judge’s orders in the racial profiling case. These changes meant many new drafts to accommodate new themes and characters.

You co-wrote the book with Terry Greene Sterling. What was the collaborative writing process like and do you have any tips to share for successful collaborative writing?

We each brought different strengths to the project. Terry had already authored one book about immigration and Arizona, Illegal, and she is an experienced narrative longform writer. I came to the project with the insights I had gained from daily reporting on the racial profiling lawsuit, as well as other Arizona civil rights litigation. Working on a project like this one, where we were following many different characters and themes over years, it was great to have two brains trying to figure out how to winnow down a massive amount of material and weave it into a coherent story.

Your reporting has covered communities in crisis including migrants seeking asylum in the United States and ICE detainees suffering from COVID-19. How do you approach interviews with people who have experienced, or may still be experiencing, traumatizing events? How do you balance protecting their privacy and safety with providing detailed and accurate reporting?

I’m glad these questions are getting raised more in immigraiton reporting circles. To understand this country’s immigration system, it’s critical that journalists include the voices and experiences of people navigating the system firsthand. And yet, there can be risks for those who agree to participate in our stories. When talking to sources who are new to the country and unfamiliar with media, I like to walk through with them what it would mean to participate in an interview before they give consent. We talk about whether there are details that could put them in danger, and whether they feel comfortable having their full name and photo used, or not. Questions for asylum seekers about why they fled could be re-traumatizing, and should only be broached when in a private, secure setting. In 2019, I collaborated with fellow immigration reporters Valeria Fernández and Perla Trevizo on a piece for Investigative Reporters & Editors Journal about navigating these ethical issues.

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The Inevitable: Dispatches on the Right to Die

A riveting, incisive, and wide-ranging book about the Right to Die movement, and the doctors, patients, and activists at the heart of this increasingly urgent issue.

By: Katie Engelhart, Class of 2018

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The Prophet's Heir

The life and legacy of one of Mohammad’s closest confidants and Islam’s patron saint: Ali ibn Abi Talib. 

By: Hassan Abbas, Class of 2017

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Two Cents

Fellows on why they started their email newsletters.

1: I started Your Favorite Prof because I realized JUST how much research I had done for my book that would never see the light of day, and I find fast food such an accessible way to talk about history, politics, race, and current events, so I cover a lot of fast food stuff in the newsletter.  And, after fast food, I spend a lot of time supporting educators on having tough conversations in the classroom about race and inequality, so I decided to devote some space in the newsletter on what to read, how to have better conversations, and how to improve student learning.  That part isn’t just for teachers, trust me! — Marcia Chatelain, Class of 2017

2: I started The Long Version back in 2019 for a bunch of reasons: I was becoming an avid reader of newsletters and liked the conversational format. As a freelancer, I liked the idea of writing for a platform where the only editor I had to pitch was myself. I thought it would be fun to learn to do occasional podcast editions. And above all, I wanted to tell stories that combined historical analysis with original reporting, in the style of my upcoming New America project book, for an engaged and dedicated audience. I'm glad to say the newsletter has found one. — Jonathan Katz, Class of 2019

3: Starting Pluripotent gave me the freedom to publish new information and commentary at my own pace and style. It also keeps me in touch with existing sources, introduces me to new ones, and gives loyal, returning readers an place to go for reading my work. — Chase Purdy, Class of 2019


Katie Engelhart was awarded a George Polk award in Magazing Writing for her piece in the California Sunday Magazine, “What Happened in Room 10?” She also recently wrote an Op-ed for the New York Times about dementia patients and COVID-19. 

Jennifer Daskal has been named Deputy General Counsel (Cyber and Technology) at the Department of Homeland Security.

Eve L. Ewing was awarded a 2021 United States Artists Fellowship in writing.

Clint Smith, Vann R. Newkirk II, and Adam Harris are contributing to the Atlantic's Inheritance project, a "multiyear journalism and tech project that will endeavor to fill the blank pages of Black history."

Rosa Brooks published Tangled Up in Blue: Policing the American City. The book has been reviewed in the Washington Post, among other notable publcations.

Two Cents
New America Events

The top New America events we recommend you check out. Now.



The Inevitable: Dispatches on the Right to Die

Katie Engelhart, Class of 2018, will discuss her new book with New America CEO, Anne-Marie Slaughter. Learn more


The Prophet's Heir: The Life of Ali ibn Abi Talib

Hassan Abbas, Class of 2017, will discuss his new book, The Prophet's Heir, with journalist Kim Ghattas. Learn more


Oak Flat: A Fight for Sacred Land in the American West

Join the Center for the Future of Arizona and the Fellows Program for a conversation with Lauren Redniss, Class of 2017, about her new book. Learn more

Reading this month

Altman, a Uruguay-born, Chile-based political scientist, is the world's leading scholar of direct democracy. This book brilliantly synthesizes the subject. 
— Joe Matthews,
Class of 2011

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Organizer and facilitator Brown makes the case for pleasure being a central tenant to political and spiritual liberation. And the book makes you feel good too.
— Sarah J. Jackson,
Class of 2019

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Clever and beautiful prose in a book that blends memoir and sociological analysis to describe contemporary issues through a black woman's lens.
— Ted Johnson,
Class of 2017

Learn More

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