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Next City Introduces New Equitable Cities Fellow

In the U.S., the wealth disparity between the top 1 percent of earners and the rest of us has been growing steadily since the 1980s and now has reached levels unseen since 1928. For people of color, the crisis is especially profound. White households now have 13 times the median wealth of black households and 10 times the wealth of Hispanic households, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Federal Reserve data. Nowhere are the disparities more urgent than America’s cities.

At Next City, we strive to report on these challenges — and the solutions being developed by communities, governments and innovators across the urban sphere. Joining the company of past fellows Alexis Stephens and Oscar Perry Abello, Johnny Magdaleno will continue to help us cover equitable economic development in our daily Equity Factor column.

Johnny spent most of the past three and a half years abroad, where he built his journalism career reporting on human rights issues and working as an economics editor for organizations like the Christian Science Monitor. His work has been featured in Al Jazeera, The Guardian, VICE, Huffington Post and more.

Sustainability and social equity have always been major interests of his. He’s reported on minority communities everywhere from Boston to the Thai-Myanmar border, and he’s looking forward to leading a deep-dive in Equity Factor into how the battle for social equity is playing out across U.S. cities.

“What’s so disheartening about inequality is that we address it at a speed that allows it to become socially acceptable. By the time we draft, edit, submit, then ratify policies and plans meant to help our most vulnerable populations, the problems these policies and plans were meant to address may have already undergone a ton of microevolutions, or developed new dynamics on the ground,” Johnny says. “We can’t always predict what those new dynamics will be, but we can make a concerted effort to never stop trying to uproot the core problems.”

The equitable cities fellowship for journalists of color is underwritten by the Surdna Foundation. Although minorities represent more than half the population of the 10 largest U.S. cities, they are vastly underrepresented in the media. The fellowship aims to bring disproportionately underrepresented voices to the online conversation about cities.

“Media consumers are right to care about who’s writing and editing their news, especially when the coverage addresses issues of poverty and inequality,” says Shawn Escoffery, director of the Surdna Foundation’s Strong Local Economies program. “Next City understands that good journalism demands a diversity of perspectives in the newsroom. And when writers with a personal relationship to an issue can bring that knowledge and perspective to their reporting, we all benefit.”

To read Johnny’s work, follow Equity Factor, and if you have story ideas, email

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