Maddie Burakoff is a digital journalist covering public health for Spectrum News 1, who comes to us via the Report for America initiative. A recent graduate of Northwestern University, where she earned B.S. and M.S. degrees from the Medill School of Journalism with a specialization in science reporting, Maddie was a managing editor at The Daily Northwestern, the campus newspaper, and helped lead award-winning coverage of the school and its administration.

While in school, she had the opportunity to travel to Panama to report on biological research in the heart of the rainforest, and to Puerto Rico to cover environmental contaminants that are polluting communities there. More recently, she contributed freelance reporting to the New York Times’ data project tracking the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S.

Maddie has also gained experience through reporting internships at CNN’s Southeast Bureau, focusing on immigration and politics, and Smithsonian magazine, where she wrote a wide variety of stories on science, environment, history and culture, including features on the collapse of global biodiversity and the physical impact of space travel on astronauts.

A native of Southern California, Maddie has immersed herself in exploring Wisconsin. In her spare time, she enjoys playing music, running and walking – or just sitting and reading – anywhere along the lakefront, and finding local businesses such as coffee shops, bookstores, restaurants and street vendors to support.

Report for America’s mission is to strengthen our communities and our democracy through local journalism that is truthful, fearless, fair and smart. RFA does so by placing talented emerging journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities. An initiative founded in 2018 by the nonprofit media organization The GroundTruth Project, it is structured to harness the skills and idealism of an emerging group of journalists plus the creative spirit of local news organizations. About 50% of RFA reporters are people of color and 60% are women.

You can follow Maddie on Twitter or reach out to her at