Ohio Local News Initiative
New non-profit newsroom serving Cleveland
The Ohio Local News Initiative is a yet-to-be named startup nonprofit organization that has raised more than $6.1 million so far for a vision to give everyone in Ohio the local news they need, starting with a robust newsroom in Cleveland. The Cleveland newsroom will produce high-quality accountability journalism while working directly with residents to produce and distribute community reporting, employing an innovative model for local journalism that is directly responsive to local information needs. In addition to a team of editors and beat reporters, the Cleveland newsroom will have best-in-class community engagement expertise, multimedia production, dedicated capacity for service journalism and research, and Cleveland Documenters, a project that trains and pays Greater Clevelanders to document local public meetings.
- Our values and key practices
We value diverse perspectives, believe everyone has talents and skills, and use power-sharing community building practices to create a learning environment that values all voices. We are creating a future that democratizes journalism and our primary work is building trust with the community as we strive to produce journalism side by side with the community.
Move at the pace of community. We are accountable to community questions and interest and not to arbitrary deadlines.
Flip the traditional news/civic information dynamic. Instead of civic information as a residual of news, we start with providing civic information and tools. Reporting flows from gathering and distributing that information.
Hold and nurture accessible, informal spaces where everyone has a voice, power is shared, and people are able to step into civic life in a way that feels safe, fun, and productive.
Are a learning community, with space and easy on-ramps for every one of us to learn from each other, to grow, and build power while also providing and connecting people with opportunities to go deeper.
As a startup building a newsroom from scratch, the Ohio Local News Initiative has the opportunity to draw from the best in the industry, discard the bad, and create new, innovative ways to center community information needs while producing excellent, impactful journalism. The criminal justice reporter will be a critical part of the newsroom’s beat reporting team, which will include reporters focused on government, education, health, and economics. They will have the primary task of working to shape a criminal justice beat that reflects the interests of communities most affected by the criminal justice system and public safety issues.
The reporter will be part of a team, led by the Managing Editor, News, that includes an editor, research director and beat reporters and that works closely with a team led by the Managing Editor, Community that includes Cleveland Documenters and multimedia and audio producers.
Develop a strategy to cover the criminal justice beat in a way that serves the communities most affected by the justice system and crime
Become an authority on the inner workings of criminal law, courts, law enforcement, and corrections systems that affect Clevelanders, and proactively report on the policy decisions and other developments within these systems that affected communities need to be aware of. Coverage may include: how taxpayer money is being spent on public safety; the intricacies of the response to trauma; and coverage of entities like the Cleveland Community Police Commission and juvenile justice issues
Have an urgency to be responsive to community information needs, including what emerges from the work of Cleveland Documenters, community fellows, and the newsroom’s community gathering spaces
Working with the editor, ensure beat priorities reflect community information needs and include diverse perspectives in the reporting—ensure that all coverage about criminal justice includes the voices of people most affected by the subject matter of the story
Utilize newsroom resources and collaborate with multimedia producers and community reporters to ensure your reporting is produced in formats and distributed to residents affected by the justice system, including people who are currently or formerly under correctional control, and their families
Work with the service writer to develop and execute ideas for translating your reporting into guides and explainers that help Cleveland residents navigate the justice system and advocate for themselves
Work with the Cleveland Documenters assignment editor to identify relevant public meetings that documenters can staff, and collaborate with documenters to turn their work into content; leverage community reporting resources to ramp up oversight of criminal justice in Cleveland, to hold decision makers accountable
Produce a range of short, medium, and long-term stories, and be willing to work in alternative story formats that will increase reach and accessibility to information
Collaborate with the Community + Special Projects Editor on criminal justice investigations
Get familiar with and pursue the criminal justice data that should be tracked and monitored to provide context and actionable information to Clevelanders
Consider applying if:
You have a demonstrated commitment to local, public service journalism
You have a strong understanding and knowledge of Cleveland neighborhoods and communities and respect for the knowledge community members can bring to the newsroom
You have a strong understanding of Ohio’s open records law and how to use it to dislodge records the community might not otherwise see
You’re able to be a supportive part of a team of reporters
You have 2+ years reporting experience in local newsrooms
You have stellar news judgment and editorial skills
You have strong communication and writing skills
You’re experienced in telling stories on multiple platforms using audio, social media and/or video
You’re able to work under deadline and prioritize work
You have a flexible and entrepreneurial spirit—you can thrive in a startup environment where you are expected to learn as you go and think outside the box
You’re able to work evenings as needed
You have strong interpersonal/communications skills—you’re willing to negotiate and talk through issues in an honest and clear manner
You’re able to maintain confidence when working with sensitive information
You can interact effectively with a diverse group of individuals internal and external to the newsroom
You practice a growth mindset, and have the ability to see opportunity even in the midst of challenges
Compensation and benefits
Salary minimum: $55K
We’re committed to building an inclusive organization that represents the people and communities we serve. We encourage members of traditionally underrepresented communities to apply, including women, people of color, veterans, LGBTQ+ people and people with disabilities.
About our hiring process
We have adopted these guiding principles for equitable hiring and do our best to follow best practices to create an inclusive hiring process.
If you apply for a position in our newsroom, someone will review your application within two weeks of submission and may request a phone conversation while the application window is still open. After the initial application window closes, there are five steps in the hiring process you may advance through, which are designed to provide opportunities for you to shine. It includes:
A video interview to get to know more about your past experience and interest in the role;
In-person interviews with your hiring manager and others in the newsroom
A written exercise that will give you a better idea of what the role entails, and help us understand how you’d approach it (we offer optional office hours to help you complete the exercise as successfully as possible, and help you prepare for the next step in the process)
A panel interview with representatives from our newsroom leadership team;
A panel interview with Cleveland Documenters and Greater Cleveland residents.
Our guiding principles
People are our greatest asset as an organization. Hiring and retaining people are also two of the hardest things to get right in any startup.
We try in every way to create a diverse, equitable, inclusive workplace, which requires a hiring process that reflects this value; hiring of employees who believe in and live into it; and developing and maintaining a work culture that makes all people feel safe, welcome, and able to thrive.
We are endeavoring to achieve an ambitious vision of community-centered journalism —one for which there is no tried and true blueprint. We have an unprecedented opportunity to do it thanks to the support of seed funders, and to reach sustainability we are committed to demonstrating impact quickly. Startup work is tough. We aim to be as transparent as possible with all candidates about the work so they have an opportunity to decline if they don’t think it will be a fit.
We will do everything we can to evaluate candidates on their ability to succeed in the roles we’re trying to fill, not on proxies (such as education) or attributes that are assumed to be associated with capability. This may translate to a more rigorous interviewing process than other organizations, and extra time set aside to help each individual candidate bring their best selves to the process (that’s why we offer optional office hours for interview prep).
While skills and capabilities are important, values and cultural fits are just as important—both for the sake of the organization and for the candidates. Values and an ability to get along with others are included in hiring criteria. Hiring bad cultural fits can be demoralizing to entire teams, make it hard to work, and cause people to leave.
To make up for structural inequities, we recruit until we have a minimum of 50% of competitive candidates at every stage of the hiring process who are Black, Indigenous, or people of color.
We are constantly learning and improving; our hiring processes also evolve as best practices are tested and established.
To apply for this job please visit www.localnewsforohio.org.