The Salt Lake Tribune will welcome two new fellows to its newsroom this summer to bolster its reporting on under-covered issues.
The 2019 fellows were announced this week by Report for America, a national service program that helps place emerging journalists in local newsrooms. More than 1,000 candidates applied and, in the end, 61 were selected to serve in 50 organizations across the country.
At The Tribune, Becky Jacobs will cover women’s issues and the stories behind Utah’s startling statistics about the status of women, from the wage gap to representation in leadership. She is currently a crime and courts reporter in Indiana for the Post-Tribune, a suburban newspaper of the Chicago Tribune.
She previously covered courts, crime and general assignment at the Grand Forks Herald, where she was named the North Dakota Newspaper Association rookie reporter of the year in 2016. She graduated from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.
"What excites me about covering women’s issues at The Tribune is that the topic spans a wide range of issues that affects everyone, whether you’re a woman or not,” she said.
Zachary Podmore will cover San Juan County — including the politics and public lands debates under a new Navajo-majority county commission. He currently lives in Bluff, where he revived a local online publication, the Canyon Echo, in early 2019. A journalist and film producer, he has covered rural Utah politics, public lands and conservation issues for Outside Online, Sierra, Four Corners Free Press, Canoe & Kayak and the Huffington Post.
Podmore has worked as a river ranger in Bears Ears National Monument. He has a master’s degree in environmental nonfiction writing, and his first book, “Confluence: Navigating the Personal and Political On Rivers of the New West” will be published October 2019.
“Since I moved there in 2015, the Tribune’s hard-hitting, in-depth coverage of a range of issues — from voting rights to Bears Ears National Monument — has been invaluable for my understanding of what’s unfolding in southeast Utah,” Podmore said. “I couldn’t be more pleased to be joining the newsroom to build on that rich legacy.”
“Report for America sent us a number of excellent candidates, but both of these reporters rose to the top,” said Tribune Editor Jennifer Napier-Pearce. “We’re excited to get Becky and Zak on the team so they can start writing stories with impact for Utah.”
Utah’s KUER radio is also a 2019 Report for America grant recipient and will have David Fuchs covering Washington County and Kate Groetzinger also working in San Juan County.
All of the fellows will start in June.
Report For America, an initiative of nonprofit media organization The GroundTruth Project now in its second year, aims to strengthen communities and democracy through local journalism that is truthful, fearless, fair and smart. Modeled on programs like Teach for America and Code for America, the initiative deploys outstanding emerging journalists into newsrooms and provides grants to partially support their salaries.
To underline the point that local reporting is public service — and to help connect corps members to their communities in a different way — Report for America also requires each reporters to do a direct service project.