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Narrative Medicine Rounds: Border Lines—How Journalists Sorted Out Fact vs. Fiction in Issues about Children and Immigration


Dec 05, 2018 - 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.


Alumni Auditorium, Columbia University Medical Center, 650 W. 168th St.

For our December Narrative Medicine Rounds, we welcome back Topher Sanders, a writer and journalist who covers race, inequality and the justice system for ProPublica. Mr. Sanders spoke at last year’s Narrative Medicine Workshop on racial inequality and social justice.

Mr. Sanders will speak about the process reporters and journalists go through to delve into the truth of a breaking news story, specifically discussing how a reporting team at ProPublica approached the news about the treatment of children at the border, both the groups who were unaccompanied as well as those separated from parents, this past summer.

His data-driven reporting on juvenile plea deals and the time Jacksonville juveniles spend in pre-trial detention facilities was a 2015 finalist for an Investigative Reporters and Editors award. His reporting on public-records concerns and questionable behavior by Jacksonville's elected public defender prompted Florida Gov. Rick Scott to order an investigation of the office in 2013. The investigation resulted in a scathing grand jury report asking Scott to remove the elected official.

In 2016 Sanders co-founded the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit working to increase the number of investigative reporters and editors of color. In 2017, he and colleague Ryan Gabrielson received the John Jay College/Harry Frank Guggenheim award for excellence in criminal justice reporting and an Aronson Award for social justice journalism for their multi-part series "Busted,” an investigation of the systematic misuse of roadside chemical field tests by police. In 2018, he and reporter Ben Conarck received the Paul Tobenkin award for race coverage and the Al Nakkula award for police reporting for their multi-part investigation "Walking While Black," which explored how jaywalking citations are disproportionately given to black pedestrians. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Essence, Black Enterprise, and Newsweek. He is a graduate of Tuskegee University and started his journalism career at The Montgomery Advertiser in Montgomery, Alabama.

About Narrative Medicine Rounds
Narrative Medicine Rounds are monthly rounds on the first Wednesday of the month during the academic year hosted by the Division of Narrative Medicine in the Department of Medical Humanities and Ethics at Columbia University Medical Center. These events are free and open to the public.


Topher Sanders, journalist, ProPublica