Professor of Practice in journalism
Research and Creative Interests
- narrative journalism
- writing and editing
- extreme prematurity
- longform journalism
Kelley Benham French came to IU in the fall of 2014 after a career as a reporter and editor at Florida’s largest newspaper, the Tampa Bay Times. She was a 2013 Pulitzer Prize finalist for Never Let Go, a three-part series on the birth of her extremely premature daughter, Juniper, who was born at 23 weeks gestation. The series, published in the Tampa Bay Times, explored the science and ethics of saving babies born at the edge of viability and told the story of Juniper’s 196 days in the neonatal intensive care unit.
French is the editor of three stories that were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize: Winter’s Tale, by John Barry for the Tampa Bay Times; For Their Own Good, by Ben Montgomery and Waveney Ann Moore for the Tampa Bay Times; and Speak No Evil, by Joan Garrett McClane for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. She continues to edit newspaper projects, magazine stories and book manuscripts on a contract basis. In 2017 she edited two projects for the Oregonian newspaper: About A Boy and The Loneliest Polar Bear.
French is the recipient of a number of national awards, including SPJ’s Sigma Delta Chi Award and Bronze Medallion, Scripps Howard’s Ernie Pyle Award for Human Interest Writing, The National Headliner Award, the Casey Medal and the Dart Award.
With her husband, Professor of Practice Thomas French, she is the author of Juniper: The Girl Who Was Born Too Soon, published by Little, Brown. The book was an Amazon.com Best Book of the Month and was reviewed in the Washington Post, USA Today and many other national publications. Read more about it here.
She is a frequent speaker in newsrooms and at journalism conferences around the world, as well as at medical and nursing conferences, where she speaks on the importance of language in critical care conversations and other subjects related to extreme prematurity.
At IU, she coordinates the introductory reporting course, C225, with Professor of Practice Joe Coleman. She has taught the following courses:
- J460: Narrative journalism
- J460: Story mechanics
- J351: News editing
- J560: Storytelling
- J260: Interviewing
- J260: Public records in journalism
- J360: Advanced reporting
- J401: Depth reporting
- H225: Honors reporting, writing & editing for Ernie Pyle Scholars
- MSCH C-225: Reporting, writing & editing
She has bachelor’s degrees in journalism and political science from the University of Florida and a master’s degree from the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, College Park.