Murrow College names news organizations to host inaugural Murrow Fellows

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PULLMAN, Wash. — More than a dozen news organizations in nine regions have been selected to host the inaugural cohort of Murrow News Fellows, a two-year appointment designed to strengthen local newsrooms and better inform underserved communities in Washington state.

A team of evaluators selected the news outlets after a review of proposals and interviews with newsroom leaders over the past two months.

“With 40 newsroom applications, it was a very difficult decision,” said Jody Brannon, Murrow News program manager. “The evaluation team worked hard work to narrow the list, given the very compelling proposals to enhance the information needs across many communities in all corners of the state.”

Fellows in the program, operated by the Murrow College of Communication, will be employed by Washington State University and live in the communities to which they are assigned.

The newsrooms include several innovative partnerships across digital, broadcast and print publications. The selected sites:

  • Inland Empire: Joint proposal from KHQ, broadcasting from Spokane, and KNDU, whose coverage area reaches residents in Tri-Cities and Yakima, to focus on housing, civic health, and agriculture. Issues facing Okanogan, Grant, and Douglas counties.
  • Long Beach: The Chinook Observer will expand coverage of economically disadvantaged rural people — particularly its immigrant and Indigenous neighbors. This will include detailed examination of housing, environmental, social, and regulatory factors that influence overall community health.
  • Spokane: Joint proposal from Spokane Public Radio and The Spokesman-Review to increase coverage of public policy on rural Eastern Washington residents, including infrastructure, rural economies, agriculture and environmental issues, healthcare and education.
  • Tacoma: Proposal from the Tacoma News Tribune to expand coverage of public policy, economy, and plights of unhoused and homeless people in Tacoma and Pierce County.
  • Tri-Cities: Proposal from the Tri-City Herald to increase coverage of the Hispanic and Latinx communities in the Mid-Columbia and Lower Yakima Valley, including civic life, agriculture, food processing industry, and other statewide issues.
  • Vancouver/Longview: Joint proposal from the Vancouver Columbian and The Daily News in Longview to expand on coverage of the Columbia River corridor including water rights, tribal issues, hydropower, and environmental issues along the 1,243-mile river.
  • Wenatchee: Joint proposal from The Wenatchee World and Northwest Public Broadcasting to increase bilingual coverage of civic and municipal issues in Wenatchee, East Wenatchee, and surrounding rural communities.
  • West Sound: Joint proposal from Gig Harbor Now and The Kitsap Sun to expand coverage of local government, including health care, drug addiction, and mental health in Kitsap County’s rural, suburban, and urban communities.
  • Yakima: Joint proposal from The Yakima Herald-Republic and El Sol de Yakima to increase coverage of municipal, county, state, and federal government issues in smaller communities in central Washington. Certain articles likely will be shared with the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin and The Seattle Times, the Herald-Republic’s sister newspapers.

Through the state’s investment in the Murrow News Fellowship program, Washington has positioned itself as a national leader in creative solutions to help keep its local communities informed. The first cohort of Murrow News Fellows, currently in the interview process, are expected to be working in their assigned newsroom by April; the remaining seven reporters are likely to be placed by summer.

“We view this program as a small but critical part of maintaining the state’s news infrastructure until the financial precarity of news organizations subsides,” said Ben Shors, Murrow chair of Journalism and Media Production. “Over the past eight months, we have spoken to dozens of news organizations, journalists, and community leaders, and the responses have been sobering. From urban centers to rural communities, the need for reliable local information is clear. Our responsibility is to ensure good stewardship of this program, to engage with reporters, editors, and publishers, and to direct a program with the flexibility to be responsive to a rapidly evolving media landscape.”

The selection team for the News Fellows program comprised Shors, Brannon, and three professionals: broadcaster Enrique Cerna, television reporter Holly Menino, and retired newspaper executive Julie Shirley.

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