Few things affect people’s lives more than actions taken — or not taken — by local legislators. Yet all too often, statehouse coverage is too insidery, loses the big picture and is incomprehensible to many of the people who most need to understand it.

We’re looking for a reporter who will take Mountain State Spotlight’s coverage in a different direction — one that’s driven by West Virginians, by a desire to de-wonkify state government and clearly explain how our government affects their lives. 

You’ll cover our government — from the legislature and the governor’s office to executive agencies and the courts — spotlighting how the sausage gets made and exposing abuses of power. You’ll show the real-world effects of last-minute amendments, influential lobbyists and backroom deals on real West Virginians in every county in the state. And you will work and be mentored by experienced editors who expect kick-ass stories and know that those stories take time to report and produce.

This position also will help us keep a watchful eye on West Virginia’s congressional delegation, investigate where actions by elected officials serve some private interest, rather than the public good, and collaborate with other Mountain State Spotlight beat reporters to give state residents the journalism they need to help make the state a better place.

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

Mountain State Spotlight was founded earlier this year by MacArthur Fellow Ken Ward Jr. and veteran West Virginia editor Greg Moore. They’ve been joined by Pulitzer Prize-winner Eric Eyre to power an independent, civic news organization that tells stories of importance to West Virginians about the issues and challenges facing their communities.

Our mission is to help West Virginians improve their state by producing “sustained outrage” journalism that exposes abuses of power by government, business and other institutions.

We are backed by Report for America, the American Journalism Project, and ProPublica, and have big plans to grow to meet the information needs of West Virginians, to give our neighbors the journalism they want, need and deserve.

Job responsibilities:

  • Cover and produce investigative stories about all aspects of state government, giving readers more depth and detail than legacy media provides with its limited resources and focus on the drip-drip-drip of daily stories.
  • Report on West Virginia’s congressional delegation, providing our readers with a more complete understanding of what their elected representatives are up to than press release-driven local coverage currently allows.
  • Help us chart a new way of covering politics and elections that meets the information needs of West Virginians more fully than quick hit stories based on the latest 30-second campaign spots.
  • 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.
  • Examine and report on the places where West Virginia’s government intersects with business and industry, exposing conflicts of interest that harm the public and enrich the powerful.

You’re a good fit if:

  • You have a demonstrated commitment to the use of investigative journalism, and live to develop and execute sustained, powerful stories that spur reform
  • You have at least three years of local or state government reporting experience.
  • You are organized and can handle multiple projects under tight deadlines.
  • You have a collaborative spirit and want to work with a team to give West Virginians the journalism they want, need and deserve. You believe that we are all stronger together.
  • You 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.
  • You have sharp news judgment, and have a record of detailed reporting and powerful storytelling.
  • You have data reporting skills that would serve you well in examining campaign finance issues in the Mountain State.

Experience as a journalist in West Virginia or other rural Appalachian states is a plus, but not mandatory.

We are committed to representing all West Virginians in our work, and diverse perspectives makes our journalism stronger. We encourage members of traditionally underrepresented communities to apply, including women, people of color, LGBTQ people and people with disabilities. We encourage out-of-state applicants, as well as applicants who are ready to take on an ambitious role but aren’t exactly what we’re looking for. We’re growing, so if you’re not right for this job, you might be right for the next one.

The successful candidate will be expected to live in or near Charleston, West Virginia. Our Mountain State is a beautiful place to live, is full of exciting news to report on, and faces many opportunities that demand our vigorous brand of watchdog journalism.

Compensation and benefits

Full-time, competitive salary with benefits.

Three weeks of paid time off in addition to holidays

Flexible work schedule. Some weekend and evening hours will be required.

Application process

To apply or to ask questions, email jobs@mountainstatespotlight.org. Your application should include: 

Your resume

A cover letter telling us why you are the right person for Mountain State Spotlight’s team. Describe your vision of accountability journalism in West Virginia, and discuss a specific story or project you reported that held powerful political interests accountable.

Links or .pdf files of at least four examples of your best work.

Applications will be reviewed and interviews scheduled on a rolling basis, giving an advantage to early applicants.