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. And you’ll show the human toll of these industries — from federal violations of workplace safety at coal mines and chemical plants to black lung disease.

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. 

This position is part of the Ohio Valley ReSource, a regional collaboration with public media stations in Kentucky and Ohio. As such, you will work with journalists in the region, though you will be based in West Virginia and report directly to the managing editor of Mountain State Spotlight, working with award-winning environmental reporters as your editors. 

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.

The Organization

Founded in March 2020 by award-winning, veteran West Virginia journalists, Mountain State Spotlight went from pitch to publish in less than six months — in the midst of a raging global pandemic. We have 10 employees, and a plan to continue expanding our coverage, with bureaus planned across the state. 

Job responsibilities

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Participate in the Ohio Valley ReSource, a regional reporting collaborative, working with other reporters on that team as needed.

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, producing thoughtful accountability-driven stories with impact.
  • Have a demonstrated commitment to the use of investigative journalism, and live to develop and execute sustained, powerful stories that spur reform.
  • Are organized and can handle multiple projects under tight deadlines.
  • Maintain a professional social media presence.
  • Like to collaborate, and believe that we’re all stronger when we work together.
  • 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. 

While our office is based in Charleston, we will consider remote locations within West Virginia for the right candidate. 

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 “dark week” between Christmas and New Year’s.
  • Paid parental leave.
  • Flexible work schedule. Some weekend and evening hours will be required.

To apply or to ask questions, email jobs@mountainstatespotlight.org. 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.