"Economic development" has long been tossed around as the cure-all for rural America. It’s the answer to West Virginia’s public health crises, the solution to educational disparities and sometimes the cause of environmental degradation. But what does economic development look like on the ground?
Mountain State Spotlight is seeking a curious reporter to focus on West Virginia’s economy: going beyond the ribbon cuttings and press releases to explain how companies, private individuals and government officials are helping or hindering the development of a diverse and healthy economy. You’ll tell stories about the economy — from major industries to small-town business trends — and follow up on the flashy projects after the politicians leave and the money has been spent to gauge whether they’ve succeeded in providing people with greater opportunities.
You should be familiar with Freedom of Information Act requests (though some of the state’s economic development records are considered confidential and aren’t subject to FOIA, creating reporting challenges we want to overcome), comfortable with budget documents and skilled at using sources to uncover unique stories. Data reporting skills and familiarity with data visualization tools would be helpful.
Creative storytelling is a must, as is an ability to interview and respectfully interact with people from all different backgrounds and economic circumstances.
West Virginia is a small state that’s facing serious challenges and expanding news deserts, but offers huge opportunities for reporters who want their work to make a difference. With one of the largest news reporting staffs in the state, Mountain State Spotlight is committed to using journalism to keep government, business and other institutions accountable. We’re passionate about this work, and using it to make our community a better place.
And while we are committed to growing and developing the local talent pool and strongly encourage West Virginians to apply for this and all of our jobs, we welcome the opportunity to introduce our beautiful Mountain State to people who haven’t yet been lucky enough to live here.
Report accountability stories about all aspects of West Virginia’s economy, explaining trends, uncovering wasted spending and telling the stories behind economic development announcements.
Work with other Mountain State Spotlight reporters to best use our resources to investigate the kinds of abuses of power in our government that have held West Virginia back for generations.
Examine and report on the places where West Virginia’s government intersects with business and industry, exposing conflicts of interest that harm the public and enrich the powerful.
You’re a good fit if:
Experience as a journalist in West Virginia or other rural Appalachian states is a plus, but not mandatory.
We encourage members of traditionally underrepresented communities to apply, including women, people of color, LGBTQ people, veterans and people with disabilities. We believe that a newsroom that includes a broad range of life experiences will ultimately produce better journalism.
We’re committed to building a newsroom that cares for its employees, supports their professional growth, pays people equitably, provides work schedule flexibility as needed and offers opportunities for advancement.
If you meet some, but not all, of our requirements, we still encourage you to get in touch. We’re growing, so if you’re not right for this job, you might be right for the next one.
The successful candidate will be expected to live in or near Charleston, West Virginia. Our Mountain State is a beautiful place to live, is full of exciting news to report on, and faces many opportunities that demand our vigorous brand of watchdog journalism.
Compensation and benefits:
Mountain State Spotlight is based in Charleston, West Virginia. We have a brand-new newsroom with plenty of natural light within walking distance to numerous breweries, restaurants and coffee shops. Charleston is a small city where you’ll find friendly neighbors, a low cost of living, a close-knit community of journalists and numerous opportunities to explore our beautiful state. It’s also full of exciting news to report on, and faces many challenges that demand our vigorous brand of watchdog journalism.
Mountain State Spotlight was founded in 2020 by veteran West Virginia journalists. The organization’s co-leadership consists of MacArthur Fellow Ken Ward Jr., who heads the editorial department, and Executive Director Ellen Allen, a veteran non-profit leader who manages development, financial and operations. They’re powering an independent, civic news organization that helps West Virginians understand our state’s issues and its potential.
Our team includes a managing editor, a development manager and five reporters. We are backed by the American Journalism Project, ProPublica, Report for America, and major national journalism funders. We have big plans to grow to give our neighbors the journalism they want, need and deserve.
To apply, or for more information, email email@example.com with the subject line "Economic Development Reporter."
Your application should include:
Applications will be reviewed and interviews scheduled on a rolling basis, giving an advantage to early applicants. For best consideration, apply by July 31, 2022.
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