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For CT Public, a new investigative reporter focused on race, youth and justice

Members of the Accountability Project
Walter Smith Randolph
Walter Smith Randolph
Members of the Accountability Project

Ashad Hajela has joined CT Public's Accountability Project. He will focus on race, youth and justice thanks to a grant from the Tow Foundation.

Dear TAP supporter,

As we enter the third year of the Accountability Project, we have good news all around.

We recently learned CT Public won five regional Edward R. Murrow awards including overall excellence.TAP's coverage of Sandy Hookand our investigation into a pay discrepancy at a local healthcare providerwas included in that recognition. TAP is also up for three regional Emmy awards for our Cutline episodes on how education has been reshaped after the pandemic and our spotlight on juvenile justice. It's always nice for our hard work to be recognized.

Additionally, we have a new reporter who has joined our team. Ashad Hajela started last month as our Tow Fellow who will focus on race, youth, and justice. A note from Ashad is below.

Finally, I hope you've been able to take a look at a few of our latest stories including an investigation into why a troubled charter school dropped its bid for accreditation. If you have a story that needs investigating, please email us at tips@ctpublic.org

Yours in great journalism,
Walter Smith Randolph
Investigative Editor & Director of the Accountability Project

A note from TAP's new Tow Fellow, Ashad Hajela

Before moving to Connecticut, I associated the state with comfort. I have family and close friends around the state, and I was excited to be closer to New York, where I went to school.

Moving here was exciting to me because I had an opportunity to explore a brand new food scene and to shop at specialty markets, through which I can expand my cooking repertoire. It’s been exciting so far, as I’ve already tried a New Haven clam pizza and the delicious Indian food.

As I got here and started digging into the issues I’m covering, I began to see interesting political dynamics that I’m really eager to cover, from some of the biggest wealth disparities across single counties to the unique perspectives around the criminal justice system.

Ashad Hajela
Ashad Hajela
Ashad Hajela

I’ve worked in local journalism throughout my career so far. My first job out of college was at The News & Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina where I covered courts, crime and criminal justice. I covered the George Floyd protests, along with data-informed stories about crime, that held police departments accountable for their inability to close cases, and for abuses of power.

Most recently, I worked at Spotlight PA, as part of their brand new State College bureau. There, I covered rural affairs and wrote stories about coroners, closing schools, hospital tax exemptions and dark skies.

I’ve been committed to covering local communities and telling stories from the ground up, focusing on community members and their experiences. Public radio is a new experience for me, and I can’t wait to step up to the challenge.

As the Tow Fellow for Race, Youth, and Justice, I’ll be writing about aspects of the juvenile justice system, the criminal justice system at large, and potentially, the child welfare system.

The stories I’ve been working on so far focus on police presence at schools, and, in the near future, I’ll be writing about the effectiveness of last year’s youth crime legislation..

I’ve loved getting to know my coworkers at CT Public so far, and I’m looking forward to connecting with you listeners and readers, as I hope to bring you insightful, impactful stories from around the state. You can always reach me at ahajela@ctpublic.org.

Walter Smith Randolph is Connecticut Public’s Investigative Editor. In 2021, Walter launched The Accountability Project, CT Public’s investigative reporting initiative. Since then, the team’s reporting has led to policy changes across the state. Additionally, The Accountability Project’s work has been honored with a National Edward R. Murrow award from RTDNA, two regional Murrow awards, a national Sigma Delta Chi award from the Society of Professional Journalists, three regional EMMY nominations and a dozen CT SPJ awards.
Ashad Hajela is CT Public's Tow Fellow for Race, Youth and Justice with Connecticut Public's Accountability Project. He can be reached at ahajela@ctpublic.org.

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