Government Watchdog & Data Reporter, The News Leader

  • Monday, November 23, 2020 12:56 PM
    Message # 9382448

    Government Watchdog & Data Reporter

    The News Leader/, part of the USA TODAY NETWORK, is looking for a smart and driven reporter to make a difference in Staunton, Virginia, as we focus our local government watchdog work on stories that touch people’s lives. 

    Our work is often hyperlocal, and we bring a strong storytelling and project approach to each beat. This enterprise-focused beat would mix daily coverage with regular project work. We make time for enterprise work: it’s woven into the DNA of our newsroom. 

    In the USA TODAY Network, we’ve built a reputation as a strong newsroom that values coaching writers, produces polished work and is truly committed to diversity. In five of the last seven years, Staunton has been named the top small newsroom in the country for Gannett, by an outside panel of journalists evaluating our annual top-level reporting. 

    The ideal candidate for this role is a journalist who will dig for a story, and then with our help tell it well. They will have data skills to keep data organized and build out spreadsheets to track all sorts of information. At a minimum, this reporter must be fluent in Excel and be able to do data analysis, with an interest in growing this skill with time, strong focus and training. Ideally, an applicant should also know Python or a similar language. You’ll analyze and synthesize the information you uncover through public records searches in ways that strengthen and sharpen our journalism. 

    We’re looking for a candidate who brings together excellent research skills and strong editorial judgment to help us do groundbreaking, high-impact investigative journalism. We want someone who loves to wield FOIA and build inside sources, as much as they like to tell a good yarn. 

    We also are looking for someone who understands that the best reporting can reveal gaps in opportunity and fundamental wrongs or systemic racial bias in our midst. Staunton has a keen eye for stories about social justice. A portion of this reporter’s focus will be on using data, technology and old-fashioned reporting to explain the demographics of our changing nation and the disparities in opportunity that have divided us. 

    Our Staunton office features easy access to the Blue Ridge Parkway, Charlottesville and world-class hiking and outdoor activities. We also have a national arts attraction in our preserved downtown full of Victorian architecture: the American Shakespeare Center. 

    The position is aligned with the Southeast USA TODAY NETWORK’s enterprise reporters and editors, with access for help from the largest team of journalists in the United States. 


    • Independent reporting. You will identify your own stories, find sources to tell you the things no one knows, analyze data, do the reporting, and write. 
    • Developing your own great watchdog ideas. 
    • Utilizing skills in using public records databases to ferret out facts. Being able to search Nexis or PACER is great, but what we want is somebody who’s eager to dig even deeper. 
    • Team projects. You will collaborate with other enterprise reporters. 


    • Bachelor's or master’s degree in communications, journalism, data-related field preferred or an equivalent combination of education and experience. 
    • 1+ years of professional experience; strong data or investigative internship will be considered. 
    • Proven track record of analyzing data, advancing major enterprise and investigative projects. 
    • Skilled in at least one data analysis software such as Excel, R, SQL, or similar programs. 
    • Clear writer. 
    • Dogged reporter. 
    • Wide reader. 
    • Values diversity and can talk to everyone. 

    We are eager to learn more about you and how you fit this role. When you apply, don’t limit your upload to a resume; show us what you’ve done. To do so, put together a single document file that includes the following, in this order: 

    1. Your resume – one to two pages. 
    2. A cover letter that outlines how you would approach the job. 
    3. Links to 3-6 online samples of your work. Show us what you’ve produced or had a hand in that best reflects what you can do in your desired role.

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