MLK50: Justice Through Journalism is an award-winning nonprofit digital news site based in Memphis, Tennessee. Our work focuses on the intersection of poverty, power and policy. We examine the systems that make it hard for workers to make ends meet and interrogate those who profit from the status quo. Our goal is to help Memphians — especially workers — have enough resources to thrive and demand that public and private policy supports their success. We strive for our newsroom culture to reflect the values we prize: community, accountability, courage and justice.
That’s why we’re looking for a public safety and justice reporter who can explore what can, will and does keep Memphians safe. That means tracking some of the familiar places and happenings involved in the city’s criminal justice system, including the efforts to reform policing after the killing of Tyre Nichols by Memphis police officers and the Department of Justice’s recent pattern or practice investigation. It also includes covering the Shelby County district attorney’s office and examining juvenile incarceration. You’ll look at sentencing, backlogs, mediation attempts and the workings of local jails. But it also means digging into police misinformation or “copaganda,” environmental design, and measures residents take to make them feel safe, such as neighborhood watch groups, self-defense classes, mental health techniques and gun ranges.
We believe justice heals intergenerational trauma and the work of oppressive systems. We believe justice seeks resolution by establishing institutions and structures that create peaceful societies. So, this reporter would also delve into restorative justice efforts and alternatives to incarceration.
Our ideal candidate would have at least five years of full-time reporting experience, with preference given to those with prior public safety/criminal justice/government reporting experience. They should be able to produce two to three stories a month. They should be good at cultivating community sources, navigating (sometimes hostile) government bureaucracies and handling research. They should have a solid grasp of AP style. They will have mastered story structure and organization, be passionate about accuracy and history, and be willing to explore a variety of storytelling forms. Collaboration is one of our key values, so the candidate should welcome working with colleagues on stories, projects and audience engagement.
This position, which reports to the executive editor, is central to our goal of building a just, inclusive community where Black working-class Memphians can connect and thrive.
Salary starts at $65,000 and can increase based on experience.
- Write between 2-3 stories a month, with a mix of enterprise and quick turn 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; help maintain a shared source database
- Use data to tell stories; request public records
- Work with the audience engagement manager and visuals editor to develop one-pagers, social media, in-person events and partnerships around stories and related topics
- Create approaches for the distribution of work in the communities we serve
THE IDEAL CANDIDATE IS:
- Experienced: You’ll need to hit the ground running; you should have worked a beat for at least three years, a similar one would be ideal
- Patient: With a good sense of humor
- Flexible: Nimble and able to pivot when priorities shift. Brings a can-do attitude to work.
- Memphis-loving: 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.
- Courageous: You’re willing to disrupt narratives of suffering and interrupt the status quo
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, Next City 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.
- $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
- Company credit card
- 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
Candidate is based in the Memphis metro area or is willing to relocate. Remote candidates will not be considered.
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 and hear.
The employee is frequently required to use hands or fingers, handle, or feel objects, tools or controls.
The employee is often 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 are a hybrid newsroom.
We are eager to learn more about you and how you fit this role. When you apply, don’t limit your upload to a resume; show us what you’ve done. To do so, put together a single document file that includes the following, in this order:
1. Your resume – one to two pages.
2. A cover letter that outlines how you would approach the job.
3. Links to 3-6 online samples of your work. Show us what you’ve done or had a hand in that best demonstrates what you can do in this job.
Please put all of these items into a single PDF and email it to email@example.com. Put “public safety and justice reporter” in the subject line.
To learn more about this position, contact Executive editor Adrienne Johnson Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posting will stay open until the job is filled. Strong candidates will be asked to complete a paid writing test. If you have an accessibility request, please let us know.
MLK50: Justice Through Journalism is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, disability, age, or any other category protected by local, state, or federal laws. We are committed to building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive staff team. We strongly encourage applicants who are people of color, LGBTQ, women, trans and gender non-conforming people, people with disabilities; and/or formerly incarcerated people.