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Top Investigative Journalists Team Up to Lead Howard Center

Maud Beelman is a former foreign correspondent who has steered national investigations for The Associated Press, including one that unmasked the Pentagon’s handling of sexual assaults among U.S. military dependents.

Lauren Mucciolo is an independent producer of documentaries and films, including a “Frontline” production on sex trafficking in America and a virtual reality film on solitary confinement in prisons.

The two women are merging their investigative skills in the Cronkite School’s new Howard Center for Investigative Journalism, where Beelman is the founding director and executive editor and Mucciolo is executive producer.

The pair will work with graduate students and top-performing undergraduates to produce national and regional investigations in partnership with professional news outlets across the country.

Beelman has spent most of her career guiding reporters in conducting investigations and building collaborations among journalism organizations. In addition to her work leading investigations for the AP, she was the founding director of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. ICIJ, launched by the Center for Public Integrity in 1997, was the first global network of investigative reporters, and Beelman built and supervised a network of more than 90 journalists in 45 countries that delivered award-winning international investigations.

She also served as deputy managing editor for projects at the Dallas Morning News, leading a 15-member team focused on investigative and enterprise stories. Overall, investigations under her leadership have won numerous awards, including the George Polk, Investigative Reporters and Editors, Society of Professional Journalists, Online Journalism Award, Overseas Press Club, Scripps-Howard and the American Bar Association honors.

Early in her career, Beelman was a foreign correspondent, covering the wars in the former Yugoslavia, post-war conflicts in Iran and Iraq, German reunification and other major stories across Europe and the Middle East.

In a talk with Cronkite students shortly after her arrival in early 2019, Beelman said she joined the AP with the firm determination to report abroad. She worked for several years reporting from AP domestic bureaus before getting her shot.

When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, she was the only front-line editor on the World Desk in New York who had been studying German. She was sent to Bonn, West Germany, but it turned out to be a “sleepy town” and she began looking for something more exciting.

“I was the new kid on the block and I had no right whatsoever to ask, but I asked if I could go help out with coverage of the First Gulf War. They said, ‘No, thank you.’”

Still, she managed to get a visa to go to Iran. She finagled a seat on a German aid flight into the country, “and when I had the flight and the visa lined up, I called up the AP and said, ‘Can I go now?’ and they really had no choice. … When I came out of Iran, I think they were so shocked that I had survived, much less done well, that they said, ‘Do you want to go to Iraq next?” and I said, ‘Yes, I do.’”

Beelman said her career has been filled with wonderful opportunities, and she views the Howard Center as one of them. “Having the chance to help shape the future of investigative reporting is more than I could have hoped for,” she said.

Mucciolo said she had always been interested in storytelling and documentary films, but it wasn’t until she was in her late 20s that she realized she could make films, not just admire them from afar.

A native New Yorker, she developed and produced arts and public affairs content at a non-commercial television station in the city for several years while experimenting with making small documentaries and short films.

“Then in late 2011, my first big break in the world of journalism came: a producing position for a ‘Frontline’/BBC co-production about children living in poverty in America’s heartland,” she said. “Poor Kids” went on to win a Robert F. Kennedy journalism award and was nominated for a News & Documentary Emmy Award.

Over the next eight years, Mucciolo worked steadily for PBS “Frontline,” producing or directing seven broadcast films and five digital documentary shorts, winning a Best Director award from the Royal Television Society, another RFK, an Online Journalism Award and numerous nominations from the Grierson and News & Documentary Emmy Awards, among others.

Mucciolo’s background is a perfect fit for the Howard Center, according to Beelman. She understands how to tell visual stories; she is comfortable with new technologies, such as virtual reality; and she is an experienced teacher, having taught media production, led teacher trainings and designed and produced content at the City University of New York for 12 years. Most of all, Beelman said, she is “a gifted storyteller.”