BuzzFeed announced Tuesday that it has selected veteran Middle East reporter Mitchell Prothero as the recipient of its Michael Hastings National Security Reporting Fellowship.
The yearlong fellowship is named for former BuzzFeed reporter Michael Hastings, who died in a tragic car crash in 2013. It includes an $85,000 stipend plus benefits, and supports enterprise reporting on national security and other related topics.
“The fellowship was started to advance Michael’s very particular kind of well-told, adversarial journalism,” BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith told The Huffington Post. “Mitch is really, unusually, in that mold.”
Prothero, who will be based in Turkey, said that legacy media outlets' downsizing of their foreign bureaus has left fewer reporters to dig beneath the surface of breaking news. He said he hopes to use the award to tackle “big-picture stories” about organized crime and terrorism, showing how international criminal actors and organizations are interconnected.
“A lot of stories get missed because no one is looking at them on a global, big-picture scale,” Prothero said. “A drug dealer in Colombia will be working with Russians in Barcelona -- with organized crime, there’s sort of a global nexus to a lot of the way these things work.”
McClatchy, where Prothero worked as Iraq bureau chief, is one of the many outlets that has scaled back its investment in international reporting amid declining ad revenue. The organization, which owns more than 30 U.S. newspapers, announced in October that it was closing all of its foreign bureaus.
Prothero said he had been in talks with BuzzFeed before McClatchy announced the closures. Rather than return to the U.S. to cover national security or politics from a desk in Washington, he said the Hastings Fellowship will allow him to continue living and reporting abroad.
Drawing on his newspaper experience, Prothero said he plans to cover daily news, then delve into more in-depth stories. He hopes to tackle four or five larger projects during his time at BuzzFeed and will work with the world desk and investigative team.
“I expect to be filing pretty often,” he said.
In its third year, the Hastings Fellowship underscores BuzzFeed’s investment in its foreign coverage.
“We’re very ambitious about how we cover the world,” Smith said.
“There’s a big opportunity in doing foreign coverage for people who really care about and are deeply engaged in global stories,” Smith added.