Two new journalists — a reporter covering business and sustainability, and a videographer to add to our storytelling capabilities — will be joining The Salt Lake Tribune’s staff in late spring, with the assistance of Report for America.
The national service program supports local journalism across the country by increasing the number of reporters exploring local issues that are undercovered.
The new reporters are:
• Bethany Baker has been chosen to work as a videographer for The Tribune. She worked from August 2019 to August 2021 as the only photojournalist for The Coloradoan, the paper in Fort Collins, Colorado. Before that, she worked as a photojournalist at The Billings (Montana) Gazette and The World in Coos Bay, Oregon.
The Tribune has employed video in its news gathering before, but never has had a reporter devoted full-time behind the video camera.
Baker has a bachelor’s of fine art degree in photography from Indiana State University, and is working toward a master’s of liberal arts degree in journalism from Harvard. She also holds a remote pilot’s license.
Baker is set to start at The Tribune on May 31.
• Leto Sapunar, who has worked as a freelance journalist since March 2020, will write about business, sustainability and accountability for The Tribune.
Sapunar earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from Oregon State University, doing research at OSU’s nanoelectronics lab. He has a master’s in journalism from New York University, under its Science Health and Environmental Reporting Program, or SHERP. His byline has appeared in such publications as Retraction Watch, Scientific American, Popular Science and Medscape.
Sapunar is expected to start at The Tribune in early June.
Report for America covers half of each reporter’s salary. The Tribune, like other RFA newsrooms, is seeking donations to support the balance. If you would like to contribute, please visit sltrib.com/reportforamerica.
“We know Utahns appreciate the work that Alixel, Becky and Zak have shared in recent years and we’re thrilled to be able to offer more local reporting with the addition of Leto and Bethany,” Tribune editor Lauren Gustus said. “For too long, we have not devoted needed time and attention to Utah’s business and tech sectors. And we must take our journalism where people are, which, for the purposes of our documentarian, is to video-first news on smartphones.”
The Tribune has previously welcomed Report for America journalists:
• Becky Jacobs covers women’s issues, and inequality Utah women experience in wages, college graduation rates and political involvement, among other measures.
• Zak Podmore started in San Juan County and expanded his reporting last year to cover additional stories in southeastern Utah.
• Alixel Cabrera covers one of the most diverse and dynamic parts of the state: The west side of Salt Lake County.
Started in 2017, Report for America is a donor-financed initiative of The GroundTruth Project, a nonprofit media organization with a long history of training and supporting teams of rising journalists.