At MLK50: Justice Through Journalism, we know that economic justice is key to our goal of creating the world Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. envisioned: A nation where all residents — especially workers — have enough resources to thrive, and where public and private policy supports their success.
True prosperity requires equity on multiple fronts, including health and well-being. Health, as they say, is wealth. So it’s troubling that, according to federal data, Memphis’ least resourced communities can have life expectancies decades lower than wealthier communities.
That’s why we are looking for an experienced science writer with the curiosity and skill to dig up and into the factors that make up that gap. Working with local nonprofit groups and county health officials, the reporter would write data-driven stories that might range from examining nutrition and food deserts, to probing vaccine and physician access, to revealing environmental toxins and the ravages of gun violence. This writer will have access to extensive training and coaching through The Open Notebook, a nonprofit organization that helps science journalists improve their skills.
This is a two-year, grant-funded position supported by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, with the possibility of longer-term employment.
Success in this role will require a deep understanding of our mission and values and strong news judgment. You’ll need to be a savvy researcher who can understand data reports and mine them for gold. So If you’re a strong, clear writer without a background in journalism, this position might be for you.
You’ll need a true collaborative spirit, too; you’ll need to work with local researchers and groups to get data that won’t always be readily accessible. And your coverage will overlap with the reporting beats we’ve already established, so there’s plenty of opportunity for teamwork.
This position is classified as a Reporter 3, with a salary range starting at $75,000.
- Write between 2-3 stories a month, with a mix of enterprise, quick turn and investigative pieces
- Produce clean and concise content that displays outstanding spelling and grammar skills and a solid grasp of AP Style
- Develop and manage a diverse portfolio of source relationships
- Use data to tell stories
- File public records request with local, state or federal agencies
The ideal candidate is:
- Patient: With a good sense of humor
- Flexible: Nimble and able to pivot when priorities shift. Brings a can-do attitude to work.
- Memphis!: A working knowledge of (or eagerness to immerse yourself in) the character, people, relationships and ways of Memphis
- Curious: An eagerness to learn about the topics and MLK50 coverage areas; you stay current on Memphis and national news topics related to our coverage areas
- Mission-focused: You frame work through the lens of the most vulnerable, with a focus on poverty, power and policy.
- Committed: You keep abreast of social, racial and economic justice movements locally and nationally; you demonstrate an ongoing commitment to the cultural competency that matches MLK50’s mission.
- Organized: All staff are expected to prioritize and balance multiple projects simultaneously.
- Experienced: Has produced enterprise, long-form or investigative reporting. Can explain data and statistics clearly. Is familiar with spreadsheet software and mapping tools.
Founded in 2017, MLK50 is an ambitious nonprofit digital newsroom focused on poverty, power and policy in Memphis, Tennessee. Our mission is to report on the intersection of poverty, power and policy, and to bear witness to movement-making and lived experiences. At MLK50, we believe journalism is a tool for liberation and we are here to help people — especially Black people, people of color, poor people and everyone who has been pushed to the margins — get free.
MLK50 and its journalists continue to garner national recognition for work that makes a meaningful, tangible difference in people’s lives, 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. Our investigative reporting led a hospital system to erase nearly $12 million in medical debt for more than 5,300 patients and helped stop an oil pipeline that would have threatened a low-wealth Black community. Our impact includes reporting that led the city and county to reverse its decision ending the local Emergency Rental Assistance program.
- Salary range: Starting at $75,000
- $3,000 hiring bonus
- At least two weeks paid vacation, 10 paid holidays per year and two “dark” weeks for a total of at least 30 paid days off per year
- $1,000 annual professional development stipend
- Unlimited sick time
- 100% employer-paid health insurance for the employee, 75% for dependents
- Company-supplied computer
- Life insurance, long and short-term disability
- $50 monthly tech stipend
- 4% employer 401K match
- Annual cost of living raise
Location and work travel
Preferably, candidate is based in the Memphis metro area or is willing to locate, but we will consider remote applicants
Physical requirements/work environment
The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this position. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the functions.
While performing the duties of this position, the employee is regularly required to talk or hear.
The employee is frequently required to use hands or fingers, handle, or feel objects, tools or controls.
The employee is occasionally required to stand, walk, sit, reach with hands and arms, climb or balance, and stoop, kneel, crouch or crawl.
The employee must occasionally lift and/or move up to 25 pounds.
Specific vision abilities required by this position include close vision, distance vision, color vision, peripheral vision, and the ability to adjust focus.
The noise level in the work environment is usually moderate.
We encourage applications from people who are ready to take on an ambitious role, but don’t meet 100% of our requirements. We’re growing, so if you’re not right for this job, you might be right for the next one.
To apply for this position, send a cover letter, a current resume and at least three writing samples/articles that demonstrate your writing abilities. Your cover letter should explain why you’re a good fit for the job. Email the cover letter and a current resume to firstname.lastname@example.org by 5 p.m. CT March 17.
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.