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Old journalism isn’t as reliable as it used to be, but good reporters find alternatives. After covering police torture for the Reader for more than a decade and a half, John Conroy was laid off in 2007; but My Kind of Town, the play he then wrote about police torture, was staged earlier this year by TimeLine Theatre and critics cheered.

Tori Marlan lost her staff-writer job in the same brutal budget slashing, but she’s also found another way. A 2006 Alicia Patterson Fellow, she spent weeks in Texas pursuing the topic of “unaccompanied minors seeking asylum,” and though she now lives in Montreal, the subject continues to preoccupy her. She recently collaborated with a friend, the illustrator Josh Neufeld, on an e-comic published online by Atavist, a recent start-up that the New York Times‘s David Carr described as a multimedia storyteller for digital devices. Stowaway tells the story of a teenage refugee who crossed the Rio Grande on an inner tube. “Fanuel,” however, is not from Mexico or Central America. He is Ethiopian, and his story begins in Addis Ababa, where he lived on the streets, and continues in Johannesburg, where he was kept in quasi-peonage after being lured there by Bart, a stranger who seemed nice and promised him an education.