Mountain State Spotlight, a nonprofit news organization, is looking for a curious journalist to expand our coverage of environmental issues, energy and worker safety and health.

In this position, you’ll work to tell the untold stories of West Virginia communities grappling with decades of legacy pollution, a changing energy landscape and economic realities, climate change and far too little attention paid to worker health and safety. You’ll follow the promises of elected officials, who have often doubled-down on encouraging the state’s extractive industries, to the detriment of the land, people and economy. You’ll show the human toll of these legacy industries — from federal violations of workplace safety at coal mines and chemical plants to black lung disease. And you will help our readers navigate West Virginia’s still-evolving role in the remaking of the nation’s energy industries.

The successful candidate will be able to juggle stories of multiple complexities, giving our readers a steady pace of different types of stories on these topics of great importance to West Virginians. 

You should be familiar with Freedom of Information Act requests, a proficient writer and skilled at using sources to uncover unique stories. Data reporting skills and familiarity with data visualization tools would be helpful, as is experience with audio journalism and photography. 

Creative storytelling is a must. So 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.

Job responsibilities

  • Bring an accountability lens to the issues West Virginians encounter every day, including through quicker stories reported over days or weeks, as well as longer projects. 
  • Tell thoughtful, accountability-driven digital stories about all aspects of West Virginia’s environment, the state’s energy sector and worker health and safety issues.
  • Follow your beat, developing a deep knowledge of the topics and maintain a rolling list of story ideas that West Virginians need to read.
  • Participate in legislative coverage alongside all of our other reporters, following bills on your beat during the Legislature’s 60-day session and monthly interim discussions.
  • 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.

You’re a good fit if you:

  • Are passionate about journalism, intrigued by difficult questions and like a challenge.
  • Have at least three years experience working as a reporter in a local newsroom, with some record of producing stories that hold powerful people accountable. 
  • Have a demonstrated commitment to the use of investigative journalism, and live to develop and execute sustained, powerful stories that spur reform.
  • Are mission-oriented: scared about the future of local news, but wildly optimistic that we can fill a critical need in West Virginia.
  • Are organized and can handle multiple projects under tight deadlines.
  • Enjoy working together with editors to execute stories from idea to published product, and believe reporting and writing are team sports.
  • Maintain a professional social media presence.
  • Like to collaborate, and believe that we’re all stronger when we work together.
  • Are flexible and comfortable working in an environment where the pace can be fast, and multitasking is the norm. 
  • Believe that legacy models for local media’s business and journalism are broken and that new approaches are needed to serve the public and our democracy.

Experience reporting on environment and energy — or as a journalist in West Virginia or other rural Appalachian states — is a plus, but not mandatory. 

Our newsroom, in an historic building redesigned to Mountain State Spotlight’s specifications, is based in Charleston in the middle of an exciting neighborhood with lots of opportunities for eating, shopping and socializing. We will consider remote work locations within West Virginia for the right candidate. 

The Organization

Founded in March 2020, Mountain State Spotlight went from pitch to publish in less than six months — in the midst of a raging global pandemic. Once we fill this position, we will have 13 employees. We have a plan to continue expanding our coverage, including bureaus across the state, to fill in growing information gaps as West Virginia’s legacy media continues to decline. 

Do you love the sound of this job, but you don’t quite check all of these boxes? Do you have skills we haven’t thought of yet?  Don’t hesitate to apply and tell us about yourself. We also encourage members of traditionally underrepresented communities to apply, including people of color, veterans, LGBTQ people and people with disabilities.

Compensation and benefits

  • Full-time, competitive salary
  • Benefits, including 75% company-paid health insurance and 401K
  • Twenty-five days of paid time off in addition to holidays and our annual paid “dark week” between Christmas and New Year’s.
  • Paid parental leave.
  • Flexible work schedule. Some weekend and evening hours will be required

We’re working with the Diversity Pledge Institute to fill this position; to apply or ask questions, email Please send us a resume, three work samples and a cover letter that tells us why you are right for Mountain State Spotlight’s team.