September 15, 2010
Emerson Brown, NPR




NPR and the John Alexander Project are proud to announce the first recipient of their joint international reporting program, the Above the Fray Fellowship. Brian Reed, a former Kroc Fellow at NPR and intern for the public radio show This American Life, was selected from a pool of over 100 applicants. He is originally from Shelton, Conn., and graduated in 2007 from Yale University.

The Above the Fray Fellowship was created earlier this year to honor the memory of John Alexander, an extraordinary young journalist who died of sudden heart failure while on assignment in Chongqing, China, in 2007. Alexander was reporting for the Koppel On Discovery series at the time; he also previously worked for NPR.

The three-month Above the Fray Fellowship is designed to give a promising journalist the opportunity to cover important but under-reported stories from a location abroad. Reed was selected for his proposal to travel to vulnerable islands in the Pacific Ocean to report on climate change migration and its implications for the rest of the world.

Reed begins his fellowship in October, traveling to the Carteret Islands, a remote chain of atolls in Papua New Guinea where he will file on-air and online stories for NPR. His reporting will focus on the groundbreaking and frustrating attempts to resettle the islands’ population of 2,500 due to climate changes that have made the land increasingly uninhabitable. Less than six months after being resettled, all but two of the pioneering families moved back to their endangered homeland. Reed also plans to report from Kiribati, an island nation struggling to cope with the possibility of having to permanently evacuate because of rising sea levels. Some Kiribati citizens are opting to leave the endangered country already, enrolling in professional training programs offered by the government to better qualify them for jobs when they move to more developed countries.

Reed began his professional journalism career as an online editor for Creative Loafing Media, a national alternative weekly newspaper company. He came to NPR when he was named one of its 2008 Kroc Fellows – a year-long journalism training fellowship. He continued working in public radio as a reporter on NPR's national desk and as an intern with the Chicago Public Radio and PRI show This American Life, where he produced several long-form radio features. Reed is also co-founder of American Backyard, a website inspired by a trip he took across the country asking Americans what made them happy, and is currently co-authoring a book based on the experience.

Details about the Above the Fray Fellowship may be found at To learn more about John Alexander, visit