The Marshall Project is delighted to announce that Aala Abdullahi will be joining as an engagement reporter. In this role, she will work closely with our engagement editor, Nicole Lewis, to understand the news and information needs of our audience, particularly those directly affected by the criminal legal system.
The Marshall Project is committed to engagement journalism: how to conceive and distribute our work so that it better reflects and reaches people who have been marginalized in mainstream news platforms. This is an emerging form of journalism that involves rethinking storytelling forms, distribution platforms and information needs of anyone ensnared in the legal system, including the incarcerated and their families. These groups are often subjects of journalism, but seldom see news that could affect their own lives.
“I’m beyond thrilled to bring my expertise in engagement reporting practices to The Marshall Project, a newsroom that has a track record of championing and producing community-driven journalism,” Abdullahi said. “I’m excited to work with talented and empathetic colleagues to find unique ways to reach new audiences who would benefit from ambitious journalism on the criminal justice system.”
Abdullahi has a track record of creating new ways to reach underserved audiences.
She comes to The Marshall Project from the Sahan Journal, a nonprofit newsroom dedicated to telling stories about Minnesota’s immigrants and communities of color. As Sahan’s innovation editor, Abdullahi led the Citizen Lab project, a comprehensive investigation into the news needs of Minnesota’s Latino, Somali and Hmong communities.
Her strategic vision and community engagement strategies have led to groundbreaking initiatives. She spearheaded the creation of an SMS-based newsletter written in multiple languages and directed an overhaul of Sahan’s community engagement workflow.
Abdullahi has also experimented with various story formats. During her tenure at AJ Contrast, Al Jazeera’s immersive media studio, Abdullahi produced virtual reality and 360 videos, collaborating with journalists in developing countries to co-create powerful stories with social impact.
Over the last five years, Abdullahi’s community engagement and visual storytelling projects were recognized by the Institute for Nonprofit News, LION Local Journalism Awards, Shorty Awards, and the News & Documentary Emmys. She is a graduate of New York University’s Studio 20 program, which focuses on media innovation.
“We are thrilled to welcome Aala to the newsroom,” said Geraldine Sealey, managing editor of The Marshall Project. “Our hiring committee was so impressed by her deep commitment to journalism that takes the needs of communities into account, particularly those communities that have long been underserved by news media.”
Abdullahi will start on Nov. 27.