My Neighborhood News Network selected to host journalism fellow

The My Neighborhood News Network is one of nine newsrooms that will host seven journalism fellows across Washington as part of a state-funded program to improve coverage of civic issues in underserved communities.

The program, operated by the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University, places reporting fellows in communities for two years. The college also offers ongoing training for the fellows and the opportunity for state news organizations to engage in conversations about innovative approaches to the crisis in local journalism.

All stories produced by fellows, reporting in more than half of Washington’s counties by autumn, can be published by any news organization via Creative Commons. They can be accessed on this Google Drive link.

“This program recognizes the need to be creative in helping Washington residents enrich their understanding of complex issues,” said Jody Brannon, program manager for the Murrow News Fellowships. “With the addition of seven new fellows, we will have placed 16 reporters in the field this year, serving communities across the state. These fellows will report on underserved communities and areas and support dedicated and innovative newsrooms. These plans and partnerships offer smart approaches to strengthening local news ecosystems in new ways.”

Teresa Wippel, president and CEO of the My Neighborhood News Network, said the fellow will play a key role in expanding the organization’s coverage in South Snohomish County. “We have so many critical issues facing our region, from housing to education to transportation to public safety,” Wippel said. “The addition of a full-time reporter will help us better serve the information needs of our growing and increasingly diverse community.”

Here are the newsrooms hosting fellows starting later this summer:

Southeastern Washington:The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin newspaper will increase coverage in Walla Walla and Columbia counties, including Dayton, Waitsburg and Burbank, of entities that steer the region’s economy, including the ports and chambers of commerce.

Pend Oreille County:A partnership between the weekly Newport Miner and RANGE, a worker-owned cooperative in Spokane, will deepen coverage of local public policy, rural economics, and border issues while more deeply connecting readers in Spokane and Pend Oreille counties.

Statewide: Investigate West will team with local news organizations to bolster accountability journalism with a “collaborative investigative reporter” for under-resourced newsrooms.

South Snohomish County: My Neighborhood News Network, a local nonprofit, will increase coverage of local government, education, housing, and related topics in Edmonds, Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace.

Whatcom and Skagit counties: Cascadia Daily News will expand coverage in rural areas of the Skagit Valley and west slopes of the Cascade Range, from Sumas to Darrington, focusing on public services, local government, infrastructure, agriculture, flooding and climate change, water rights, immigration and border security.

Jefferson County: The weekly Port Townsend and Jefferson County Leader will increase coverage of the town council, county commission and Port of Port Townsend.

StatewideCascade PBS (formerly Crosscut) and KNKX, an NPR station with studios in Tacoma and Seattle, will partner on a politics and government reporting project focused on issues facing young adults in Washington and the power dynamics at play in elections and policy decisions that will affect the state’s future.

In addition, the evaluation team approved a fellow to support a developing effort by a coalition of state broadcasters and newspapers to improve coverage of state government for news organizations across Washington. The Washington State Association of Broadcasters (WSAB) and Allied Daily Newspapers (ADN) will support the fellow to increase coverage of state government for television, radio and daily and weekly newspapers.

“We are pleased to see the commitment of WSAB and ADN to invest in increased coverage of state government,” said Ben Shors, the program’s director and chair of Murrow’s Department of Journalism and Media Production. We were able to realize some savings in the first year, which allows us to support this ambitious plan.”

In addition to Brannon and Shors, the evaluation team included Holly Menino, morning news anchor for KOMO TV; Andrea Otanez, teaching professor in communication at the University of Washington; and Jim Camden, former Olympia bureau chief for The Spokesman-Review.

“This effort is a way to preserve local journalism and strengthen reporting of community issues in some of our most underserved areas,” Menino said. “I look forward to reading watching and listening to the stories the Murrow fellows bring to these communities and the state.”

Added Camden: “With recent news about reductions in reporting staffs in Washington, this program offers hope for expanding news and understanding for the state’s readers, listeners and viewers.”

Meanwhile, in coming weeks, three new fellows will join six fellows who began in April:

Henry Brannan will report on economic and environmental issues along the Columbia River for a partnership between the Vancouver Columbian and Longview Daily News.

Multiplatform journalist Monica Carrillo-Casas will cover rural issues outside of Spokane for a partnership between the Spokesman-Review and Spokane Public Radio.

Kevin Teeter will report on the Moses Lake area for the NonStop Local NBC affiliates in Spokane (KHQ), Tri-Cities (KNDU) and Yakima (KNDO).

Future fellow placements are contingent on available funding and continued legislative support.

Links to the fellowship positions are expected to be posted on the program’s homepage starting in July.

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