Edmonds journalist directs investigation into chemo’s deadly effects

Rita Hibbard

Edmonds resident and veteran investigative journalist Rita Hibbard has much to be proud of these days.

A year ago, Hibbard — former assistant managing editor of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer — founded Seattle-based InvestigateWest, a nonprofit, investigative center staffed by journalists with a track record of producing in-depth stories on the Pacific Northwest. In the last few days, under Hibbard’s leadership, the center broke a significant story, written by Carol Smith, on the deadly effects of chemotherapy drugs on health care workers who handle them. The story was featured on the front page of Sunday’s Seattle Times (a community news partner of My Edmonds News), as well as on MSNBC.com and also aired as a half-hour news documentary on KCTS 9.

As if that wasn’t enough, in late June Hibbard was named as a 2010 Fellow for the Knight-McCormick Leadership Institute through the Knight Digital Media Center,  a partnership of USC Annenberg and the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism (and funded by the James L. and John S. Knight Foundation and the McCormick Foundation). One of 20 fellows selected nationwide, Hibbard will focus on the planning and development of innovative and collaborative digital news strategies, including technology and business practices.

Hibbard described the fellowship as “a really exciting opportunity for me to grow and develop in my profession with some of the best in the business” and one that will “cement InvestigateWest’s role as a leader in this emerging field.”

“The other fellows are an amazing group, ranging from folks involved in public broadcasting to brand new digital endeavors to traditional media to independent investigative reporting efforts like mine – Center for Investigative Reporting in California,” Hibbard said.

While at the Post-Intelligencer, Hibbard directly supervised its investigative team, leading investigations that won numerous prizes including the 2009 Polk Award for Military Reporting, the 2009 Excellence in Criminal Justice Reporting Award from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and the 2008 Edgar A. Poe Award given by the White House Correspondents Association. Under her leadership, investigative reporters covered issues as diverse as corrupt police, Boy Scouts with a zeal for clear-cutting their heritage lands and government officials whose cronyism cost military families housing and taxpayers millions of dollars. She was one of 15 journalists selected for the Knight Digital Media Center’s inaugural boot camp in news entrepreneurship in 2009. (My Edmonds News founder and publisher Teresa Wippel was selected for the same KDMC news entrepreneurship boot camp in 2010.)

Those interested in becoming supporting members of InvestigateWest, which is funded through foundations as well as individual and corporate memberships, can do so here.

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