Politics in our country has become preoccupied with gender issues as the “electability” of female candidates emerges in nuanced ways, the accessibility of abortion is debated, and politicians campaign to restrict discussion of sexuality and identity. To cover this, especially in the lead-up to the 2024 presidential campaign, The 19th has announced it will hire two reporters, Mel Leonor Berkley and Grace Panetta, to bolster its political coverage. I am happy that I can.
Mel came to us after covering a fascinating piece on Virginia politics for the Richmond Times Dispatch. She tenaciously reported on the blackface scandal surrounding former Gov. Ralph Northam, after which she covered the state through protests for racial justice and her COVID-19 pandemic. She dived into her 2021 gubernatorial race, writing about how much of the division that’s unfolding in our country is reflected there, and how the Republican gubernatorial race is currently being viewed as a potential presidential candidate. I’m here.
Mel moved to Florida from the Dominican Republic as a teenager. She began covering the government in South Florida’s fertile news arena, interning at South Florida’s Sun Sentinel and Miami Herald before working for the Naples Daily News. She came north to work for Politico before moving to her current residence in Richmond. She is currently writing a statewide abortion policy newsletter for the States Newsroom.
Mel will join the company on November 7th.
Grace came from Insider, began working as a college intern, and stayed to cover Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings, the pandemic, and the 2020 election. She delved into how elections work, reported on the law and how it is administered, and earned a diploma in election administration from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.
She worked on live election coverage and wrote a chapter on voting in the 2020 election in “A Return to Normalcy?” The 2020 Election That (Almost) Broke America is a book produced and edited by the University of Virginia Center for Political Science. Grace is from Massachusetts and is currently based in Washington, DC.
Grace will join the company on October 3rd.
We are happy to add an article looking at how politicians market their candidacy and how voters view them. We want to find out how both parties are trying to appeal to voters, what policies they are discussing, and what voters feel left out.