It’s been a busy time at JPR. We’ve made significant progress advancing the expansion of our newsroom, with the goal of strengthening our local and regional journalism for both our radio listeners and digital audience.
Expansion of the newsroom has centered around two main initiatives: hiring a full-time news director to provide the leadership needed to improve both the breadth and depth of our independent news gathering capability and hiring an additional regional reporter to increase our reporting capacity. Effective May 1, following a national search, Liam Moriarty took the helm as JPR news director. You likely know Liam’s voice and work since he’s been part of JPR news on and off for the better part of a decade, first as news director of JPR’s mostly student and volunteer newsroom from 2002-05 and most recently since 2013 as our sole regional reporter.
Liam’s reporting has been recognized by numerous professional journalism organizations, including the Associated Press, the Society for Professional Journalists and the Radio Television Digital News Association. He’s been awarded a number of notable journalism fellowships, including a Metcalf Science Fellowship and European Union Center for Excellence Fellowship and his work has earned eight regional Edward R. Murrow awards for outstanding achievements in electronic journalism. Liam takes the news director baton from Geoffrey Riley, who has been handling news director duties very ably on an interim basis alongside his main responsibilities as host of the Jefferson Exchange. Geoff has now returned to his hosting assignment full-time, giving him the focus he needs to make the show as good as it can be for listeners.
In recent weeks we also completed our hiring process for two full-time regional reporters, one that’s been planned as part of our newsroom expansion and one to fill the position Liam left when he became news director. The successful candidates for these positions are two talented journalists -- April Ehrlich and Erik Neumann.
You may be familiar with April's work since she's been with us for a couple of years now hosting Morning Edition, co-producing the Jefferson Exchange, and reporting when she’s had time. April will now be able to dedicate all her time to reporting, which we're really thrilled about since she's done excellent work in the limited reporting time she's had available. April’s background includes stints as a newspaper reporter in Payette, Idaho; Ontario, Oregon; and Roseburg, Oregon. She came to us in 2016 with little public radio experience but with a keen ear for audio storytelling, strong reporting skills and a desire to learn. In her time at JPR, April has contributed to our coverage on a wide range of topics, including last year's deadly wildfires in Northern California. Her reporting on the Carr Fire in Redding aired on NPR stations around the country and contributed to JPR News winning a regional Edward R. Murrow award for continuing coverage of the fire and its aftermath. April is currently working on a series -- funded by the Annenberg Center for Health Journalism at USC – that explores the impact of wildfires on some of the region's more vulnerable populations, including non-English speakers, people with disabilities and homeless people.
Erik Neumann comes to us from KUER, the NPR member station in Salt Lake City, Utah. Erik is a native of the Pacific Northwest and brings over a decade of experience in print and audio storytelling to JPR. He has a Master’s in Journalism from UC Berkeley. During his time at KUER, he focused much of his reporting on health care, including stories on the impact of health policy on people’s lives, personal stories about the opioid epidemic and portraits of rural life where access to health care is limited. He’s been a frequent contributor to NPR and Kaiser Health News, a nationwide health care reporting collaboration. He’s reported on reproductive health in Burkina Faso, West Africa and he recently completed a year-long health reporting fellowship with the Association of Health Care Journalists. In addition to his health reporting, Erik has covered diverse subjects, including public lands, the environment and the arts. He’s also been a producer and teacher of young reporters at Youth Radio, a media education program in Oakland, California and was the producer and creator of True Stories, a night of live, non-fiction storytelling.
I look forward to hearing the new work JPR’s growing newsroom will create. The linchpin of this work will be timely, fact-based, independent reporting consistent with the highest journalistic standards for fairness and accuracy. We’ll also strive to develop deeper organizational capacity and expertise to tell stories that create the driveway moments for which public radio is famous – stories that explain complex regional issues, help us walk in our neighbors’ shoes, build bridges across culture and class and take listeners on journeys that celebrate this fascinating place we call home.