Cal State San Bernardino alumna Paulette Brown-Hinds ’90, who was awarded an honorary doctoral degree in Humane Letters in May and is the publisher of the Black Voice News, has been named a John S. Knight Senior Journalism Fellow for 2022-23.

Brown-Hinds, who is the founder of the Voice Media Ventures, will join 13 other journalism leaders at Stanford University. It is the first cohort to return to the prestigious residential fellowship program on the university campus since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re delighted and not surprised that Paulette has been named John S. Knight Senior Journalism Fellow,” said CSUSB President Tomás D. Morales. “As an alumna and with a well-deserved doctoral degree, her dedication to journalism and serving the local community are unsurpassed. She represents the best that our university has to offer.”

The JSK senior fellows are veteran and emerging journalism leaders who will work on practical solutions to address the industry’s long-standing neglect of underserved communities. Their projects will address news and information gaps, systemic racism and the deterioration of legacy local news outlets, according to the John S. Knight Fellowships website.

“We’re thrilled to be heading back to campus this fall with a diverse group of fellows who have taken the initiative to begin exploring ways to tackle some big issues facing journalism,” said JSK Director Dawn Garcia. “The class includes talented people from big and small newsrooms, entrepreneurs and public media journalists, whose growing organizations are offering alternatives to address expanding local news deserts.”

Focus areas for this year’s cohort include developing sustainable mental health support for journalists; integrating equity in newsroom culture; expanding access to audio journalism for those with hearing impairments; providing systemic support for freelancers of color; exploring ways that video forensics and innovative technologies can increase access to local news and “town square” conversations, and empowering working-class communities of color with information they need to participate in civic life. 

Brown-Hinds will spend her senior fellowship exploring ways to empower smaller newsrooms serving diverse communities in California to use solutions-focused data reporting through training, highlighting resources for journalism and seeking strategies to sustain those efforts.

“With such innovative programs and initiatives at Stanford, like Big Local News, The Starling Lab, and digital repositories at the Stanford Libraries, being on campus presents a unique opportunity to tap resources in data reporting for smaller independently-led news organizations — especially those serving diverse communities. I am excited by the possibility of connecting interested news organizations in California with these resources and opportunities,” said Brown-Hinds.

As a senior fellow, she will be building on work she began remotely when she served as a 2021-22 John S. Knight Community Impact Fellow. The community impact fellowship program had U.S. journalists work to address news and information gaps in their local underserved and underrepresented communities.

A well-known and widely respected philanthropist, business and community leader, Brown-Hinds’ interest in local journalism and doing work for the public good has led her to serve on multiple influential boards, including the James Irvine Foundation, American Press Institute, California Press Foundation and the California News Publishers Association, the largest and oldest trade association for the news publishing industry in the state. In 2019, she served as president of the board, becoming the first African American elected to lead the organization. She is also the first African American to chair the Inland Empire Community Foundation board.

As a lifelong student of African American literature, culture and history, Brown-Hinds leads Underground Railroad Study Tours for the Black Voice Foundation, stewards a collection of rare antebellum slavery artifacts and is the founder of Mapping Black California, a community mapping and STE[A]M (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics) initiative.

Brown-Hinds has published various scholarly articles on 20th century Black women writers. Additionally, she taught expository writing to students in the CSUSB College of Social and Behavioral Sciences as an adjunct professor at CSUSB between 1993-2013. Since 2016, she has served as an adjunct professor at the University of California, Riverside, teaching a course on connecting students in media and the arts with the broader community.

Brown-Hinds has been awarded Google News Initiative Innovation Challenge funding, was a Knight Digital Media Fellow and a Salzburg Seminar in American Studies Fellow. She is a member of the American Press Institute, James Irvine Foundation, and Inland Empire Community Foundation boards of directors. She earned a BA in English literature from CSUSB and an MA and Ph.D. in English literature from the University of California, Riverside.

The senior fellowship runs from Sept. 6, 2022, to May 31, 2023. The fellows will document their work publicly throughout the year, highlighting key strategies and lessons learned.