The Marshall Project, the Pulitzer-winning nonprofit media organization covering criminal justice, is excited to announce the launch of its second local news operation in Jackson, Mississippi.
The local newsroom aims to expose abuses in the local criminal justice system through investigative, data and community engagement journalism, supported by The Marshall Project’s national newsroom. The news team will serve local audiences, including people directly affected by the criminal justice system, who are often neglected or mischaracterized in media coverage.
“Many reasons brought us to Mississippi,” said Marlon A. Walker, managing editor, local at The Marshall Project, who previously led several Mississippi newsrooms. “I’ve learned a lot about Jackson in my three years here. There are a ton of stories to tell. The people of Mississippi need more local accountability, and our dedicated team will seek to add more reporting and data resources to the already established media ecosystem.”
The team aims to publish in partnership with both nonprofit and for-profit newsrooms around the state. The newsroom will have two reporters starting Oct. 2:
Daja E. Henry. She will report on untold local criminal justice stories that go below the surface and examine persistent problems in policing, courts, local jails and state prisons, as well as the human impact of the criminal justice system. Henry joins The Marshall Project from The 19th, an independent, nonprofit news organization reporting on issues important to women, women of color and the LGBTQ+ community. She has covered police brutality, environmental justice communities throughout the South and gun violence in her hometown of New Orleans. Henry holds a bachelor’s degree in media, journalism and film communications from Howard University, and a master’s degree in mass communications from Arizona State University.
Caleb Bedillion. He will delve into prisons, police and courts, and collaborate with local news outlets and publishing partners to expose inequities in the criminal justice system. Bedillion comes to The Marshall Project from The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo, Mississippi, where he served as the politics and investigations editor. He most recently worked with ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network on stories that exposed widespread missteps within the Mississippi court systems involving indigent defense and no-knock search warrants, which led to a performance complaint against a judge. Bedillion holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Mississippi College and a master’s degree in religion from Yale University Divinity School.
“We’re thrilled to have these superb journalists join The Marshall Project,” said Susan Chira, The Marshall Project’s editor-in-chief. “As we expand our accountability journalism in Jackson, Daja and Caleb’s experience will ensure our local-first newsroom publishes top-quality journalism that has an impact on Mississippi’s criminal justice system.”
The team will be overseen by Paul D’Ambrosio, senior editor at The Marshall Project. He joined the organization in April 2023, bringing a wealth of experience producing hard-hitting investigative journalism, and covering criminal justice and marginalized communities. He spent most of his career with the Asbury Park Press in New Jersey, where he first began as a reporter and later worked as an investigations editor and executive editor. D’Ambrosio’s honors include the Selden Ring for Investigative Reporting, the Farfel Prize and a finalist citation for a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.
The Marshall Project’s latest local expansion is supported financially by The Just Trust and the Public Welfare Foundation.
The Marshall Project - Cleveland was The Marshall Project’s first local news operation, launched in 2022. It has produced investigations into banned books in Ohio state prisons, the data behind judicial sentencing in the Cuyahoga County criminal courts, the staggeringly high number of drivers’ license suspensions in Ohio in 2022, and much more.