We are seeking a passionate reporter to cover criminal justice in Pennsylvania for Spotlight PA, an award-winning, independent, and non-partisan newsroom focused on urgent statewide issues. The mission of Spotlight PA is simple: to hold powerful private and public forces to account by producing journalism that gets results and serves the public good. This criminal justice reporter is a critical check on two powerful institutions — the state Department of Corrections and the Pennsylvania State Police — and is pivotal to our team’s work, which is amplified and republished across our network of 67 community newsroom partners.
This position is full-time, with benefits, and candidates can be remote anywhere within Pennsylvania.
What You’ll Do
This reporter will help lead Spotlight PA’s criminal justice coverage, which will focus primarily on reporting as it relates to corrections and state police. While there may be occasional daily reporting, this position will primarily allow for the reporter to take the time to go beneath the surface to examine the inner workings of these institutions, and the policies and practices around them as they relate to the wider conversation of race, equity, and criminal justice. Since Spotlight PA focuses on accountability reporting, this reporter will be expected to build sources and scrutinize policies through the power players and special interests around them, as well as monitor related legislation and legislative committees. This is an enterprise beat, and the reporter will be expected to regularly uncover and write stories and investigative issues that are otherwise getting little to no attention, supported by an excitable team that is intensely familiar with the state’s bureaucracies.
Who We’re Looking For
Ideal candidates will have covered criminal justice or related local, regional, or state agencies, with clips that show an ability to report beyond daily motions, build sources from scratch to break new ground, and aggressively fight for and use public records. We want someone who can penetrate guarded and closed-off institutions, persistently pitch stories, and keep several projects of varying lengths cooking at one time. The best candidates will bring big ideas and a sense of urgency to work each day, and be eager to work with Spotlight PA’s team of like-minded reporters. Some other ideal traits, though not essential: Fluency in foreign languages, particularly Spanish; a comfort with requesting, scrutinizing, and using data in the reporting process.
Other Things to Know
We can provide a moving stipend if the right candidate is moving to the state. Applicants should include a resume, cover letter, and links to journalism they feel best exemplifies what we’re seeking.
We are aware that no one will fit exactly what we’ve described. Our bottom line is that we want to hear from anyone who shares our passion for accountability journalism and legislative reporting. Since Spotlight PA is so new, the team is taking advantage of its ability to actively reconstruct the DNA of newsrooms. This, in part, includes respecting and encouraging reporters who bring their own ideas about journalism to the team, as well as providing the space, time, and resources to help execute them. We strongly encourage anyone who will take this position and run with it to apply.
As an equal opportunity employer, Spotlight PA is committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive culture, and we especially encourage members of underrepresented communities to submit an application, including women, people of color, veterans, LGBTQ+ people, and individuals with disabilities.