Marquette’s Diederich College of Communication announces 2023-24 O’Brien Fellows in Public Service Journalism

April 25, 2023

Journalists will report on issues around water, gentrification, tech and public policy, housing solutions

MILWAUKEE — The J. William and Mary Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University has announced the next class of journalists joining the O’Brien Fellowship in Public Service Journalism.

The fellowship teams up Marquette student journalists with reporters for nine-month investigations into complex national and local issues, including those around justice and water, community resistance to displacement caused by gentrification, tech and public policy, and housing solutions.

Pamela K. Johnson
Linda Lutton
Lindsay Muscato
Angela Peterson
Pamela K. Johnson
Linda Lutton
Lindsay Muscato
Angela Peterson

The incoming fellows for the 2023–24 academic year are:

  • Pamela K. Johnson, independent reporter, author and filmmaker; Long Beach, California
  • Linda Lutton, independent reporter experienced in education and neighborhood coverage; Chicago
  • Lindsay Muscato, independent reporter and editor; Brooklyn, New York
  • Angela Peterson, photo editor, photojournalist and videographer; Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Since 2013, the O’Brien Fellowship has helped journalists produce in-depth public-service journalism projects for their home news organizations or other outlets. This program was the result of an $8.3 million gift from Peter and Patricia Frechette in honor of Patricia’s parents, Marquette alumni Perry and Alicia O’Brien. In 2021, the fellowship received an additional $5 million from the Frechette Family Foundation to expand the program’s reach. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel co-founded the fellowship.

The fellowship seeks projects aimed at exposing injustice, uncovering potential solutions and igniting change. Journalists propose the topics.

“We can’t wait for this dynamic group of journalists and their student teams to dive into projects that will examine the roots of serious problems and what is being done to solve them,” said Dave Umhoefer, O’Brien Fellowship director. “In line with our program goals, our fellows will be reporting deeply on issues around justice and water, community resistance to displacement caused by gentrification, tech and public policy, and housing solutions.”

Fellows receive a $75,000 salary stipend, assistance from Marquette journalism students, and access to funds for reporting travel and research. Sponsoring news organizations get an in-depth reporting project and a summer intern following the fellowship.

About the 2022-23 fellows

Johnson is a former editor at Essence magazine who has had op-eds published in the New York Times and Los Angeles Times. She was a fellow in the American Film Institute’s Directing Workshop for Women, and has shot short films in Cape Town, South Africa; Dakar, Senegal; and Beijing. Her first short, “Talk Me To Death,” was a narrative project produced through New Mexico’s Digital Film Institute that won editing and audience awards.

Johnson is the co-author of two books, including “Santa and Pete,” which was made into a TV movie starring James Earl Jones, Hume Cronyn and Flex Alexander. She serves as second vice president of the National Writers Union and, in 2022, was selected as a Professional Artist Fellow by the Arts Council for Long Beach. She earned her bachelor’s degree in communication from Stanford University and a Master of Fine Arts degree in fiction from Sarah Lawrence College.

Lutton is an Chicago-based reporter whose work often centers on everyday people. She worked for 14 years at WBEZ-Chicago, where her education reporting and storytelling won national acclaim. In her work, she examined Chicago’s dropout crisis, school segregation and youth violence. She also covered the historic teachers strike of 2012 and the closing of 50 Chicago public schools. More recently, she covered Chicago neighborhoods, writing about people, places, problems and possibilities across the city’s hundreds of unique communities.

Lutton previously covered education in Chicago’s south suburbs for the Daily Southtown, and has worked as a freelance reporter in Michoacán, Mexico. Honors include a 2013 Peabody Award for her work on “This American Life” for its “Harper High School” episodes, and a Studs Terkel Award for reporting on Chicago’s diverse communities. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with bachelor’s degrees in English and urban studies.

Muscato focuses on technology and its influence over people’s lives. Most recently, she was a senior editor at TIME, working with a team to cover Big Tech, cryptocurrency, tech policy and more. Before that, she was an editor at MIT Technology Review, covering the COVID-19 pandemic and the many ways that scientists and technologists raced to help. There, she also served as producer for a Webby-nominated investigative podcast about the pandemic’s origins.

Muscato has also researched and fact-checked for major nonfiction books on the tech industry and its evolution and has worked as a researcher and producer on documentary films about climate change. In 2011, she served as a Leadership Resident with the Harpswell Foundation in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. She is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and an alumna of the AmeriCorps national service program.

Peterson has forged a notable career for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, where she worked on the 2011 Pulitzer Prize-winning project, “One in a Billion,” about the quest to cure a sick young boy by mapping his DNA. Her work also includes “Life Correction: The Marlin Dixon Story,” for which she followed a newly released inmate for two years, and “A New Prescription,” a project that revealed how social conditions can affect health more than medical care. In “Cultivating a Community,” she helped examine a unique urban gardening program for African American boys affected by trauma.

Before coming to Milwaukee in 2003, Peterson worked at the Orlando Sentinel as a photo editor and photojournalist with an emphasis on minority community reporting. She is a native of Washington, D.C., and graduated from Syracuse University with a bachelor’s degree in communication.

The current class of O’Brien Fellows includes independent journalists Samantha Shapiro, Lauren Lindstrom and Lee Hawkins, and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter John Diedrich.

About the O’Brien Fellowship

The Perry and Alicia O’Brien Fellowship in Public Service Journalism at Marquette began with Peter and Patricia Frechette’s commitment to uphold the future of in-depth reporting and honor Patricia’s parents, Marquette alumni Perry and Alicia O'Brien. In 2013, the Frechettes funded this fellowship and worked with Marquette's Diederich College of Communication and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to construct it.

Every year, the O’Brien Fellowship teams professional reporters with Marquette journalism students on nine-month reporting projects aimed at holding American institutions accountable and uncovering potential solutions to difficult problems. The student component was essential to the Frechettes, who knew that finding a job after college is often difficult for students.

About Marquette University

Marquette University is a Catholic, Jesuit university located near the heart of downtown Milwaukee that offers a comprehensive range of majors in 11 nationally and internationally recognized colleges and schools. Through the formation of hearts and minds, Marquette prepares our 11,100 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and professional students to lead, excel and serve as agents of positive change. And, we deliver results. Ranked in the top 20% of national universities, Marquette is recognized for its undergraduate teaching, innovation and career preparation as the sixth-best university in the country for job placement. Our focus on student success and immersive, personalized learning experiences encourages students to think critically and engage with the world around them. When students graduate with a Marquette degree, they are truly prepared and called to Be The Difference.

About Kevin Conway

Kevin Conway

Kevin is the associate director for university communication in the Office of University Relations. Contact Kevin at (414) 288-4745 or