Social Justice Watchdog Reporter

  • Full Time
  • Petersburg, VA
  • Posted 12/04/2020

Opportunity Description

The Progress-Index/, in Petersburg, Virginia, part of the USA TODAY NETWORK, is looking for a social justice watchdog — an ambitious, self-starter who is passionate about making a difference and examining the effects of systemic racism that have shaped our communities.

This search is about finding the right high energy, hard-news journalist who produces given dedicated time and help to publish both daily and enterprise work. We are re-centering the heart of our community reporting on the citizens of this majority Black, small city in Virginia and reversing decades of previous focus on mostly white “suburban” areas around Petersburg. It is an important and necessary mission that we’re undertaking. Come help us.

Because of the pandemic, we’re flexible about people starting remotely and moving within a certain time period to then live in-market. This newsroom is deeply committed to diversity recruiting and to covering local issues in the trans and broader LGBTQ community in Virginia.

In this role, you will spend time every month chasing special work — with an editor — and making it sing. You will also be an active daily beat reporter with scoops, breaking news, short profiles. But enterprise journalism is a driver of the beat — and you will find opportunities to work on stories that matter.

We have the resources to help you learn to do the work well, and we consider ourselves a farm team for USA TODAY Network — with a path to building a strong career. Come improve your craft building high-interest stories within a newsroom that is focusing more and more on storytelling reporting, writing coaching and community context.


  • Creates storytelling that accurately informs and engages specific audiences and platforms through the use of metrics.
  • Illuminates the complicated system mechanisms and political and organizational choices that have led to current racial, income and immigration status injustice.
  • Learns and writes with good new reporting about the history of Petersburg and how we got here.
  • Listens to people sometimes overlooked by the media.
  • Connects with the community through storytelling and outreach (social media, on camera, forums, community leadership, etc.) Provides thoughtful analysis of complex issues.
  • Works with content coach to evaluate what’s working and what’s not and develops ongoing plans to better satisfy audience needs.
  • Captures photos and video as needed.
  • Promotes personal brand, the brands of colleagues and the institutional brand.
  • Helps readers find answers and solutions.


  • Bachelor’s or master’s degree in communications, journalism or related field preferred or an equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • 1+ years of professional experience; strong college work will be considered.
  • Experience with public records is required. Database or computer-assisted reporting skills will set applicants apart from others.
  • Speed and fluency with digital platforms and content management systems. This is a must.
  • Understanding of how to use social media platforms.
  • Experience shooting and editing photos and video on a phone.
  • Strong communication skills, news judgement and headline-writing ability.
  • Demonstrated ability to prioritize, self-start, multitask, contribute and excel under pressure.
  • Ability to work collaboratively and efficiently.
  • Strong writing, spelling and grammar skills; familiarity with AP style.
  • A curious mind and conversational approach to writing. This is a role that prizes communication, so clarity is key.
  • Fast at writing and ability to take coaching well. We will coach for writing style and tone.
  • Organizational skill.
  • This role requires a valid driver’s license, reliable transportation, and the minimum liability insurance required by state law.
  • Employment is contingent on passing a post-offer pre-employment background check and a motor vehicle record check & drug screen (for driving roles only).

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 produced or had a hand in that best reflects what you can do in your desired role.

It is important that these items be assembled into a single document and uploaded in PDF format. Completing these steps will ensure that your application receives the highest consideration.


The Progress-Index


Bill Atkinson
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