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VTDigger.org wins Knight Challenge, looks for a health and energy reporter

VTDigger.org wins Knight Challenge, looks for a health and energy reporter

Picture of Angilee Shah

Here is a list of foundations and organizations that have given VTDigger.org grants since its founding in 2009: the Vermont Community Foundation, the Harris and Frances Block Foundation, Ben and Jerry's Foundation, the Permanent Fund for the Well-Being of Children, the McClure Foundation, High Meadows Fund, the Haymarket People's Fund and J-Lab.

Now, VTDigger can add the Knight Foundation to its list of supporters.

The site, which covers Vermont state politics, has won a three-year, $104,000 grant in the Knight Community Information Challenge. With matching funds from the Vermont Community Foundation, VTDigger is looking to hire an investigative reporter – their first full-time reporter aside from the editor -- to cover health and energy in Vermont.

VTDigger screenshot

Founding editor Anne Galloway says that health and energy are the two biggest issues in Vermont right now. Gov. Peter Shumlin has made renewable energy a core initiative and is also trying to create a single payer health care system for his state. To Galloway, the core of Vermont's health care is finding out what is driving costs up so quickly. The state adopted many of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act some 20 years ago, which raises questions about how to control costs when you increase access to health care. She also wants to look at the quality of care and tell patient stories.

"We'll be following the money and the people and the politics," Galloway said in a phone call this week. "It's a big project."

Here's the bottom line: VTDigger is growing and hiring. Galloway answered questions about the positing and who should consider applying.

UPDATE: The health and energy reporter position has been filled.

Why did you choose health and energy for your first full-time reporter? And why combine health and energy?

Anne Galloway

I didn't want to combine it but I sort of had to because those are the two biggest issues we face in this state in terms of the amount of money consumers spend on health care and energy. Also, the new governor, Peter Schumlin, has made renewable energy one of his main initiatives and of course he's pushing for single payer, which is a really big deal.

We're going to attack these two topics from different angles. We want to do business reporting. We want to look at policy initiatives very carefully. And we'll be looking at how consumers are faring now with the current systems.

I'm the only other full-time reporter and I cover – I don't know -- six or seven different issues. You name it, I've covered it. I love it but there's only so much I can cover and do it well. We have great freelancers who can help cover the environment and so many other issues. I'll continue to report but I can't give these subjects the undivided attention that these subjects deserve and really no one in the state is providing readers with.

These two issues deserve a full-time reporter. If I had my druthers, sure I'd like a reporter who would cover nothing but cover health care – you bet – but that wasn't realistic under the circumstances.

Tell me about the person you're looking to hire.

We're looking for someone who has really good reporting skills, an interest in perusing documents, interviewing people and really pursuing a given topic in both of those subject areas to the nth degree. A little bit of background in health care or energy, of course, is useful but someone who has the drive and energy and smarts can learn those beats. I'll be really serving in a mentoring capacity on those two issues for whoever takes the job.

Are you looking for someone mid-career, late career, or a fresh graduate? Does it matter?

It doesn't matter. I'm looking for someone who doesn't mind deep snow in January. [Laughs]

So you're looking for a local?

No, not at all. I'll take someone from Florida if they can stand the winters. You kind of want somebody who is into skiing. Vermont's a beautiful place. We've had some good candidates and I hope we can find the right person. We're open.

Are you getting inundated with applications?

We have received some applications. I wouldn't say we've been inundated.

The position pays about $40,000 per year with benefits. If you want to apply, send an email to directly to Anne Galloway at vtdigger [at] gmail.com.

Read more about hiring editors and what they look for:

Applying for the Job: Tips from an online editor

Girshman's Dos-and-Don'ts Guide to Writing a résumé for a Journalism Job

Getting the Job: What a startup journalist looks for in new hires

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