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We’re looking for a government accountability reporter to join our newsroom – but this isn’t your typical city council beat.

MLK50 covers power, policy and poverty, which means we examine how elected officials’ decisions impact residents, particularly low-income residents and the disinvested neighborhoods in which they often live.

How are officials making it easier or harder for residents to make ends meet? Where are officials spending taxpayers’ dollars to improve lives? Are government programs performing as promised – and if not, what are policymakers doing about it?

We’re looking for a reporter with at least five years of reporting experience to produce quick hits and deeper dives on the Memphis City Council and Shelby County Commission. They’ll connect with concerned residents, community leaders and city insiders.

This reporter will experiment with different storytelling models; we’re not bound to the typical inverted pyramid news story when a graphic, chart or short video would work as well. 

The reporter should be comfortable using social media, particularly for finding sources and developing reader engagement, and with speaking publicly about their work in various forums. 

We want this reporter to help shape the beat while always centering the people that our namesake Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would center were he alive.

We believe that objectivity in journalism is a myth and has been used to maintain the white, male, heteronormative status quo. We are unapologetically pro-worker, pro-democracy and pro-liberation.

Skeptical of official narratives? Love AP style? Super-organized? You are our people.

The successful candidate would be expected to live in Memphis or relocate. We will work with the employee to determine a moving schedule that incorporates the latest public health advice. 

We are not considering long-term remote candidates.

The organization

Founded in 2017, MLK50 is an ambitious nonprofit digital newsroom with a mission to report on the intersection of poverty, power and policy, and to equip residents to pursue reform.

Since 2017, MLK50’s journalists have won several national and regional awards, including the Selden Ring Award for investigative reporting. We believe in collaboration: We’ve partnered with national outlets such as ProPublica and The Marshall Project, and are leading the Memphis Media Collaborative, a group of four local news outlets.

We are fiscally sponsored by the MuckRock Foundation. Our core funders include the Surdna Foundation, the American Journalism Project, Racial Equity in Journalism at Borealis Philanthropy and the Emerson Collective. We are also a partner newsroom with Report for America.

Job responsibilities

  • Generate story ideas that focus on the intersection of poverty, power and public policy for residents of Memphis and Shelby County.
  • Produce on average two pieces per week, in coordination with your direct supervisor. 
  • Keep close tabs on the Memphis City Council and Shelby County Commission and keep colleagues in the loop. 
  • Develop and demonstrate the cultural competence required to cover marginalized communities.
  • Be familiar with other team members’ beats and how those intersect with local government. 
  • Use social media in all the ways, including source development, idea generation, sharing and distributing content. 
  • Collaborate with the visuals editor and digital editor on storytelling.
  • Read Memphis news publications regularly, as well as national news on poverty, power and policy. 
  • Stay abreast of social, racial and economic justice movements locally and nationally.
  • Write clearly and concisely. 
  • Adhere to Associated Press style and pay careful attention to organization, clarity, brevity, grammar, punctuation, syntax and accuracy. 

You’ll be a good fit if…

  • You bring a collaborative, can-do attitude to the work. 
  • You have a demonstrated commitment to cultural competency.
  • You can think coherently under pressure.
  • You have stellar news judgment and sharp editorial instincts.
  • You have a deep-seated commitment to independent, local journalism.
  • You know how to use and interpret public records and data sets to tell daily, enterprise and investigative stories.
  • You’ve always thought local government should be covered differently and are eager to help shape this beat. 
  • You have experience distilling long meetings into the essence of what readers/viewers need to know.  
  • You think outside the box and agree that not everything needs to be a 1,000-word story. 
  • You’re comfortable with making or willing to learn how to create short videos and graphics to tell stories.
  • You’re tired of working in a toxic news environment and want to be a part of a healthy newsroom.

Compensation and benefits

  • At least $68,000 annual salary, paid every two weeks by direct deposit.
  • As an employee, you are eligible for a professional development stipend up to $1,000 per year, for classes, certifications or books/materials. 
  • MLK50 pays 100% of health insurance premiums for the employee and family. We also offer dental, life and vision insurance and a 401K match up to 4% of the employee’s salary. 
  • Employees receive at least 34 days off per year, including at least 10 days paid time off, 10 days off during our twice-annual dark weeks and 10 company holidays, which may be exchanged for employees who celebrate other holidays. Sick time is unlimited. 
  • Flexible work schedule, with some evening hours (when elected bodies meet).

Application process

To apply, please send, in a single PDF, the following to by Jan. 31.

  • Your resume/CV.
  • A cover letter/statement of interest. Tell us why you are a good fit for MLK50. What does journalism at the intersection of poverty, power and policy look like to you?
  • Links to at least four samples of your best work.

We encourage members of traditionally underrepresented communities to apply, including women, people of color, LGBTQ people, people who were formerly incarcerated, veterans and people with disabilities.

If you meet most of the qualifications but not every single one, apply anyway.

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

Please send questions to

This story is brought to you by MLK50: Justice Through Journalism, a nonprofit newsroom focused on poverty, power and policy in Memphis. Support independent journalism by making a tax-deductible donation today. MLK50 is also supported by these generous donors.

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