About

The Reporters


Sarah Chacko finished her graduate requirements at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism this August. She joined the program in January, after working for six years in Texas and Louisiana. After graduating from Texas Christian University in 2004, Sarah moved to the small town of Killeen, Texas, where she covered the mayor’s office and city council. She then moved to the Denton Record-Chronicle, a subsidiary of the Dallas Morning News, where she covered their rapidly expanding school district. Most recently, Sarah spent two years at the Capitol bureau of The Advocate newspaper in Baton Rouge, where she won state and national awards for her coverage of the state’s poverty issues.


Jessica Q. Chen is a graduate student at the Medill School of Journalism, specializing in investigative reporting.  Prior to attending Medill, Jessica worked as an online editor for Entrepreneur magazine.  She has reported from the Czech Republic and Macedonia, and hopes to pursue a career in foreign correspondence.  She has a B.S. in biology from the University of California, Irvine, and is fluent in Mandarin Chinese.


Jessica Binsch came to Medill in 2009 to pursue her MSJ, focusing on multimedia storytelling and political affairs reporting. She was born and raised in Germany and holds a bachelor’s degree from Free University Berlin in communication science, political science and North American studies. While studying there, she interned at various media outlets and co-founded a blog covering transatlantic relations. In addition to German and English, Jessica studied Latin and Ancient Greek in high school. She loves to read and travel. Her goal is to cover politics and international relations across multiple media platforms.


Charlie Mead comes from Seattle, Wash. He attended Boston College and studied political science and philosophy before attending Medill, and spent the past summer reporting for The American Lawyer magazine. He is concentrating in business reporting at Medill.


Heather Somerville is a reporter with the Medill National Security Journalism Initiative and holds a master’s of science in journalism from Northwestern University. She has a background in investigative reporting with a focus on national security and immigration. Heather is skilled in digital storytelling, photojournalism and Flash graphic design.  Currently based in Washington, D.C., Heather’s journalism career began in 2008 with The Charlotte Observer. She has been a reporter and assistant editor for community newspapers in North Carolina. On the side, she taught English as a Second Language at a community college. Heather received a B.A. in Creative Writing from Colorado State University in 2006 and has done volunteer work throughout Latin America since 2000. Her travel has led her far from her New England roots but she remains a die-hard Red Sox fan.


Malathi Nayak was born and raised in Bangalore, India. She trained as a lawyer but followed her heart into journalism. Before coming to Medill, she attended law school in Bangalore and worked for two years in New Delhi as the legal correspondent for Mint, an Indian business newspaper in partnership with the Wall Street Journal. She hopes to pursue a career in international reporting with a focus on developing countries and frontier economies. Her reporting interests lie in issues at the intersection of law, business, politics and social development.  At Medill,she trained in investigative, broadcast and multimedia storytelling techniques. In the last ten years, she has acted in theatrical productions across India and learned Indian classical music.


Sonja Elmquist came to Medill from covering crime at the News & Record in Greensboro, N.C. Participating in Medill’s business reporting concentration, Sonja interned at Bloomberg News, writing market coverage on the commodities team in the Chicago bureau. Before becoming a journalist, Sonja taught English as a second language to adult students in Cairo, Egypt and Hamburg, Germany. Sonja also served in the Army National Guard as a radio operator.  Sonja brings to the project an interest in the way that a changing climate will impact U.S. domestic security and the military’s ability to respond to conflict.


Annie Snider has specialized in environment reporting at Medill.  While pursuing her master’s degree, she has covered energy legislation in Congress, efforts to quell invasive species entering the Great Lakes and the Navy’s climate change planning.  Prior to attending Northwestern, she worked at Environmental Defense Fund in New York.  Annie held a Carnegie-Knight reporting fellowship this summer.


Emmarie Huetteman came to Medill fresh from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in political science and anthropology in 2009. Previously, she worked on senior political analyst Jack Lessenberry’s show at NPR affiliate Michigan Radio and served as a columnist, associate editor, and editor-in-chief at the university’s newspaper, The Michigan Daily. While studying public affairs reporting at Medill, Huetteman has covered policy issues including education, campaign finance and national security.


Jacquelyn Ryan holds a master’s degree in business reporting from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and a bachelor’s degree in feminist studies from University of California, Santa Cruz. Before joining Medill’s National Security Journalism Initiative, Jacquelyn worked at the Brooklyn (N.Y.) Daily Eagle & Daily Bulletin, Beverly Hills (Calif.) Weekly, KZSC, Santa Cruz (Calif.) and Health-e News Service (South Africa). She also riled up audiences for a year at the Late Show with David Letterman.


The Editors


Josh Meyer left the Los Angeles Times/Tribune’s Washington Bureau in early 2010 to help launch the Medill National Security Journalism Initiative, which aims to find the best ways to teach and to do national security journalism in this changing media environment—especially across all digital platforms. Meyer won numerous local, state and national awards in his 20 years at the Times, including in his last nine years as paper’s terrorism/national security reporter. He remains based in Washington, D.C., at the newsroom of Medill, the journalism school of Northwestern University. He teaches a class on “Covering Conflicts, Terrorism and National Security” and leads groups of post-graduate students on three-month investigations as part of the initiative’s National Security Reporting Project. As the initiative’s director for education and outreach, he is also responsible for helping build the initiative’s efforts to assist and inform working journalists and scholars as well as students and educators.


Ellen Shearer is the William F. Thomas Professor in the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and director of the school’s Washington Program, Medill News Service. She led the news service’s investigative projects in 2004 and 2006, which created databases of privately sponsored congressional travel as part of the reporters’ investigative series of stories. In 2008-09, she followed up with the news service’s Pentagon Travel series, in cooperation with the Center for Public Integrity.

Ellen was a leader in the News21 project on privacy and civil liberties post-9/11, which won a special citation from National Press Foundation. She created and directed “Y Vote 2000: Politics of a New Generation,” a project to cover the presidential campaign to engage young adults.

She is the co-author of “Nonvoters: America’s No-Shows” and has written chapters in five media books. Before joining the Medill faculty, she was a senior editor at New York Newsday, a consulting editor at Newhouse News Service, marketing executive at Reuters, and held positions as senior executive, bureau chief and reporter during a 10-year stint at United Press International.


Kat Downs is the Innovations Editor for Graphics at The Washington Post, where she creates data-driven interactive graphics and multimedia experiences. In three years there, she has designed and developed dozens of interactive graphics on topics as diverse as North Korean prison camps, the U.S. unemployment rate, and the 30th anniversary of D.C.’s 9:30 club. Before coming to the Post, she developed interactive graphics at The Baltimore Sun and interned at USA TODAY. A native of North Carolina, she majored in visual communication at UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication.


Scott B. Anderson is a Medill School of Journalism lecturer specializing in interactive publishing and also leads interactive strategy for the National Security Journalism Initiative.  Prior to Medill, Anderson spent 10 years as the head of editorial at Chicago-based Tribune Interactive (TI), the umbrella organization for Tribune Company’s award-winning national network of newspaper and broadcast station websites. Previously, he was an editor, reporter and founding executive producer for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Anderson is a longtime active member of the American Society of News Editors and Online News Association.