Chittenden County community justice and public safety reporter

Burlington, VT, USA Req #24600
Monday, July 25, 2022
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The Burlington Free Press seeks an enterprising reporter with a deep interest in how communities find solutions to public safety needs. This reporter strives to serve the needs of the communities most affected by crime and by the impact of policing tactics, as well as how residents can hold members of the criminal justice system accountable.

The focus of the beat will be Chittenden County with particular attention focused on the core communities in and around Burlington including South Burlington, Winooski, Colchester, Essex and Williston. This is not a traditional “police beat.”

Job Details:

This reporter may take the lead when news of the day warrants immediate coverage because of public interest and public impact, but the focus will be on the bigger picture exploring angles answering “Who?”,” How?” and “Why?” This is people-centered, community-based coverage that delivers relevance, context, and useful information to all readers. This could include reporting on how public safety issues also impact health outcomes, including mental health outcomes, and the impact that trauma has on communities.

Much of the time, this reporter will be examining the effectiveness of community safety efforts through reviews of data and public documents and interviews with law-enforcement sources and community residents. At a time of rising gun violence, what efforts by police or others might be productive? And which ones are not? This reporter will use data to highlight what disparities, racial or otherwise, might develop from specific community safety approaches. It is vital this reporter develop law-enforcement sources and builds trust in city, county, local and state policing organizations. This helps us hold agencies accountable while also ensuring law-enforcement perspectives are explored in our journalism. Overall, this reporter will be embracing of needs, concerns and solutions experienced and expressed by the people who live in our cities and towns, particularly members of marginalized communities whose voices historically have been absent from much public safety coverage.

This reporter will be committed to increasing the Free Press’ reach in under-served communities through relationship-building and different delivery methods for our content. Becoming more trusted and more reflective of the affected communities through inclusion of neighborhood voices and through authenticity in storytelling is a crucial aspect of this coverage. Coverage that highlights neighborhood efforts to address crime and its impact is expected and welcome and may include identifying and opportunities for newsroom outreach and engagement. Where possible, coverage should point to solutions to public safety threats and concerns, including examining how readers can protect themselves. This reporter’s work frequently delivers data-based insights into public safety trends.

Typical Job Duties:

  • Researches, reports, writes, and helps create compelling text and multimedia journalism with an emphasis on impact and solutions around community justice and public safety issues with a focus on Chittenden County.
  • Pays special attention to the issues and trending topics impacting diverse segments of Vermont’s population. Displays cultural competency in navigating coverage.
  • Works with Free Press editors to shape storytelling to meet audience needs and interests on every platform.
  • Develops relationships with sources within the law enforcement community as well as communities they serve.
  • Makes it a mission to inform and engage readers through immediacy, enterprise reporting and riveting storytelling.
  • Acts as a public ambassador through social media, video presentations and some community outreach.
  • Collaborates with editors and digital producers to provide all the appropriate elements for stories (ie: photos, videos and graphics). Captures basic photos and video as needed.
  • Uses independent judgment in day-to-day activities; demonstrated success in selecting methods and techniques for obtaining solutions.
  • Normally receives instructions on routine work, detailed instruction on new projects and assignments.
  • Understands the standards and ethics around newsgathering and can execute most of its primary forms at a commendable level, including source interviews, use of public records, data analysis and primary and secondary source research.
  • Has developed enough topical knowledge to provide thoughtful analysis of complex issues. Understands good storytelling and successfully develops ideas. Can write news stories and more complex enterprise pieces with minimal guidance.
  • Can execute on special projects by working closely with editors.

Knowledge and Skills: 

  • A journalist committed to values of fairness, diversity, inclusion and professionalism.
  • Strong writing skills and a command of grammar and style.
  • Knowledge of data-based reporting and use of spreadsheets such as Excel.
  • Experience with social media, including Instagram Stories, as a tool to build audience and as a source for beat development.
  • Experience with and interest in multimedia, including video and podcasting.
  • A self-starter who owns the beat yet works collaboratively with others locally and regionally to meet common goals.
  • This journalist considers reader interest and reader questions in framing stories, utilizing tools such as Google Trends and Parsley to track reader interests.
  • Social media skills and some video production knowledge required.
  • Data reporting knowledge and experience helpful. Database skills/Microsoft Excel skills preferred. (Data training will be part of successful candidate’s onboarding steps.)
  • Exceptional core journalism skills, particularly reporting and writing.
  • Deep understanding of the questions the audience seeks answered in our journalism.
  • Self-motivation and self-direction.
  • Effective communicator; able to get along with diverse personalities.
  • Able to multi-task and excel under intense deadline pressure in a rapidly changing environment.
  • Knows how to use time effectively in an always-on workday.
  • Works collaboratively within a cross-functional environment.
  • Must embrace peer-to-peer feedback and training.
  • Applies innovative, creative thinking to support the company’s goals.
  • Writing, spelling, grammar, AP and local style.

Required Work Experience, Training, and Education:

  • Bachelor’s degree in Communications, Journalism or equivalent in experience and education, or college degree in related field.
  • 3+ years of reporting experience, which could include freelancing, internships and college publication work.

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:

  • Your resume – one to two pages.
  • A cover letter that outlines how you would approach the job.
  • Links to 3-6online 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.


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Other details

  • Job Family Frontline Journalists
  • Job Function Consumer
  • Pay Type Hourly
Location on Google Maps
  • Burlington, VT, USA