Alumnus begins Hearst Journalism Fellowship in San Francisco

The Elon University journalism major and former Pendulum editor-in-chief started the Hearst Corp.’s two-year fellowship program in August, assigned to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Elon University graduate Michael Bodley ’16, who was awarded a prestigious Hearst Journalism Fellowship, is working as a breaking news reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle this year. Photo courtesy of Bodley
As part of his Hearst Journalism Fellowship, a two-year program hosted by the Hearst Corp., Elon University alumnus Michael Bodley ’16 is spending his first year post-graduation covering breaking news in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The journalism major was assigned to the San Francisco Chronicle as part of his first 12-month fellowship rotation and started contributing in late August to the newspaper’s print product and subscription website, as well as, the Chronicle’s free site providing breaking online news and web features.

The former editor-in-chief of The Pendulum – now part of Elon News Network – explained he felt fortunate to be placed at one of the most widely read news outlets on the West Coast and acknowledged the publication’s dedication to strong, investigative reporting in the Bay Area.

“San Francisco is one of the best places in the country to do serious journalism that matters right now,” said Bodley. “And the San Francisco Chronicle has positioned itself on the cutting edge of tackling systemic issues, such as homelessness, that matter immensely to the city.”

As Bodley referenced, the Chronicle spearheaded a blitz of media coverage this summer on Bay Area homelessness, collaborating with more than 70 other news organizations to create the “S. F. Homeless Project.” The Chronicle’s own extensive contribution is highlighted here.

Having completed a business internship this summer at The Boston Globe, Bodley is not stranger to the pressures of reporting for a large metropolitan news outlet. One of his more expansive front-page pieces during his tenure at The Globe focused on the economic impact of prolonged droughts on Massachusetts’s farmers.

The recent Elon graduate has also completed previous stints with The Baltimore Sun and the award-winning Carnegie-Knight News21 Initiative. His work has been published in The Washington Post and NBC News, among other outlets.

Bodley interviews a Berkeley, Calif., firefighter following a mid-September blaze. Photo courtesy of Reis Thebault
​Already about two months into his San Francisco rotation, Bodley has quickly assimilated into his new city and role as a member of the Chronicle’s Go Team, a fleet group of reporters, photographers and videographers covering breaking news such as accidents, fires and crime.

Chronicle staff members are instructed by editors to think “mobile-first” when arriving at a scene and post relevant information on social media as soon as possible, said Bodley, noting the emphasis on distributing information with both speed and accuracy.

“We’re trying, of course, to break news in real time that is important to our public, while not sacrificing the quality of the content to the demands of the breaking news cycle,” Bodley said. “After we break a story and push it out on social media, it’s always important to go back and expand the original story in terms of providing context and investigating patterns or signs that an individual instance may be representative of a larger issue facing the city.”

Just a week into his tenure, Bodley had already contributed to a national story, reporting on a public protest of the superior court judge who oversaw the six-month jail sentence of Brock Turner, the former Stanford swimmer convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman.

“That’s the moment my new job sunk in,” said Bodley, who collaborated on a front-page article for the Chronicle’s print version as well as an online multimedia package. “At that time, that was one of the biggest national news narratives in the country. For me, as a journalist, it was an incredible opportunity to step into a truly national news story.”

Bodley is the second Elon graduate to be named a Hearst Fellow, following in the footsteps of 2015 alumna Katherine Blunt. Blunt served as a transportation reporter for the San Antonio Express-News last year before transitioning to the Houston Chronicle as a retail reporter this summer.

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