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Rural Reporting Fellowship takes root

Our new Rural Reporting Fellowship will provide support for the Methow Valley News as it pursues in-depth reporting on climate change, in collaboration with award-winning journalist, Ashley Ahearn.

Voices rising from communities on the frontlines of climate change carry the evidence and emotion to call others to action. But what happens if no one is there to make those voices heard?

Today, 73 percent of all internet publishing jobs are concentrated in coastal cities, resulting in fewer journalists personally connected to rural communities. In many of these communities, industries like ranching and forestry are key to economic survival, and are being directly impacted by the effects of climate change. These are some of the most complex and important issues of our time — issues that are central to the work of Ecotrust — and rural voices are being given short shrift in coverage of those issues.

In 2019, Ecotrust has the opportunity to disrupt this trend with the Rural Reporting Fellowship, a year of committed economic support to enable reporting on rural communities by journalists who truly are of those communities. The Methow Valley News of the north central Washington Cascades is the recipient of this year’s fellowship.

Climate change, and how it intersects with the complex mix of ranching, recreation, public lands management, and shifting demographics in the Methow Valley, will be the focus of the reporting from this year’s fellowship. Led by Pacific Northwest news veteran Don Nelson, the Methow Valley News is enriched by the reporting of award-winning journalist Ashley Ahearn, whose science and environmental reporting experience and ability to connect global forces to grounded experiences, are already on display in this week’s prelude piece “What does climate change mean for you?”.

The Rural Reporting Fellowship comes with “no strings attached” to the editorial content of the Methow Valley News or Ashley’s storytelling. The four stories that the fellowship supports will be determined by the paper and based on its identification of complex issues that have deep local resonance and lessons for us all.

Read Don Nelson’s “A promising partnership” on the meaning of the fellowship for the Methow Valley News and the promise of a year of impactful reporting ahead.