Silva awarded 2017 Bolles Fellowship to cover Legislature


Senior Christianna Silva helped Nate Silver's website, FiveThirtyEight, with coverage and graphics leading up to the presidential election. (Photo by Will Strimling)


Trevor Noah with "The Daily Show" used a graphic generated by Silva after the vice presidential debate.

When it comes to political reporting, the stars seem aligned for Christianna Silva.

The journalism senior, currently in the thick of the election as an intern at FiveThirtyEight, has been named the 2017 Don Bolles Fellowship winner and will cover the Arizona Legislature for the school’s Arizona Sonora News media service in the spring.

 “Political writing is absolutely something I’d like to do after I graduate,” Silva said. “Politics is an obsession of mine.”

The fellowship is named after Don Bolles, the Arizona Republic investigative reporter who was killed in a car bombing in 1976. The award has been handed out by the UA School of Journalism since 1977.

“I am so pumped to be covering the state Legislature,” Silva said. “I’ve wanted to be a Bolles Fellow since my freshman year, and I'm so glad it's actually come to fruition.”

The fellowship provides expenses, housing and a stipend for Silva to live in Phoenix in the spring. It is funded through a donation by 1982 UA alumna Joni Hirsch Blackman and the Armin and Esther Hirsch Foundation.

“I hope that I can really dig into the politics: There's so much going on,” Silva said. “From marijuana legalization and increased minimum wage on the ballot this year, to new members in the Legislature, there’s no shortage of great stories.”

Since September, Silva has been doing data mining, entry and analysis in addition to reporting and blogging on the election for editor Nate Silver’s 538 in New York City. During the three presidential debates, she tracked questions, interruptions, attacks and references to scandals, then worked on graphics for the website.

She also saw her vice-presidential debate chart on interruptions used on “The Daily Show” with Trevor Noah.

“I learned that a lot of data research is just tedious, time-consuming work,” Silva said. “I’ve also learned that I should have paid way more attention in math class!

“The most exciting part of the internship was the presidential debates. In part, because they were wild, but also because I’ve never seen so many smart people in one room live-blogging thoughts I wish I had.”

FiveThirtyEight, founded by Silver as a polling aggregation website and blog and later bought by ESPN, takes its name from the 538 Electoral College electors.

“Christianna is a wonderful combination of passion for journalism, fearlessness for new technology and an enthusiasm level that is off the charts,” Professor Susan Knight said.

List of past Bolles Fellowship winners

Published Date: 

11/07/2016 - 10:06am

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