Award-winning reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones to keynote Press Day

Award-winning reporter will reveal to student journalists how to gather and interpret facts, tell uncomfortable truths to readers in keynote

Award-winning reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones to keynote Press Day

By Rob Melton
Journalists like Nikole Hannah-Jones have to dig for the truth, because truth is only possible when reporters and editors gather all the facts and subject those facts to the process of verification by two or more sources. The goal of this process is objectivity.

Hannah-Jones will speak to Oregon high school journalists at the 27th annual Northwest Scholastic Press Fall Press Day on Wednesday, Oct. 24, at the University of Oregon in Eugene, according to NWSP Executive Director Dr. Karla Kennedy.

She is a reporter with an interest in covering issues about race, class and culture she reveals truths people may not be aware of or that remain deeply hidden below the surface.

Hannah-Jones will teach students the skills and strategies needed to gather facts and tell compelling stories in your school and community that can lead to awareness, understanding, discussion and potential solutions to identified problems and issues.

Writing about these issues is in her blood, as she is a product of the Great Migration that swept her father and six million African Americans out of the Jim Crow South in search of a Northern Promised Land, according to a website press release from ProPublica where she now works as an investigative reporter, and on her website. She has often reported and written about race, and she has traveled extensively in pursuit of such stories.

Sometimes what people think they see in their community is very different from what is really going, and it is the responsibility of a news outlet to inform its readers of these facts – especially when they provide a fresh perspective or challenge existing beliefs and assumptions.

During five years of reporting at The Oregonian, award-winning reporter Hannah-Jones has revealed to readers the facts about living and working in Oregon. She put local officials on the hot seat after reporting about a city-sponsored undercover investigation that revealed frequent violations of federal fair housing laws, and eventually prompted officials to draft the city’s first fair housing plan.

While covering the 2010 census for The Oregonian, her job was to use facts from the census to tell stories about what it reveals about who we are and where we live.

There are many ways to look at census information, and it is useful to look at that information from as many perspectives as possible, then tell the stories it reveals so that readers have a better understanding of their people and community.

ProPublica is a Pulitzer-winning, non-profit newsroom focused on investigative journalism in the public interest in New York. She will be covering the ongoing economic downturn and how it has impacted the average American. Her beat includes discrimination, fair housing and waste in federal programs, according to the press release.

“I’m excited to work for ProPublica and continue on a national scale the work that I got into journalism to do: Reveal the plight of the powerless and hold accountable those who take advantage of them,” Hannah-Jones said in the ProPublica press release.

ProPublica focuses exclusively on important stories with “moral force” by producing journalism that shines a light on exploitation of the weak by the strong and on the failures of those with power to vindicate the trust placed in them, according to its mission statement posted on its website. It’s mission is “To expose abuses of power and betrayals of the public trust by government, business, and other institutions, using the moral force of investigative journalism to spur reform through the sustained spotlighting of wrongdoing.”

“Nikole is a skilled writer and reporter whose work has been informed from her time spent living in the East, West, South and Midwest,” said ProPublica managing editor Stephen Engelberg in the press release. Hannah-Jones’s work at ProPublica will be supported by a new grant from the Ford Foundation, according to the press release.

Propublica is an independent news organization which is funded largely through donations. ProPublica began publishing on the web ( in June 2008. Their work has produced two Pulitzer Prizes, including the first for a group of stories that did not appear in print. ProPublica was created as a new model to carry forward some of the great work of investigative journalism in the public interest that is such an integral part of self-government, and thus an important bulwark of our democracy.

She has won the Society of Professional Journalists Pacific Northwest Excellence in Journalism Award three times and participated in reporting fellowships at the University of Pennsylvania and Poynter Institute, among others.

She’s won several journalism awards and frequently lectures on race and the media, including the 2012 Gannett Foundation Award for Innovation in Watchdog Journalism during the National Association of Black Journalists convention in June for her series on gentrification in Portland, Ore.

Prior to joining ProPublica, Hannah-Jones reported for the largest daily newspaper in the Pacific Northwest, The Oregonian in Portland, Ore. She covered numerous beats at The Oregonian including demographics, the census and county government.

Before that she covered the majority-black Durham Public Schools for The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. During her three years as a reporter there, Hannah-Jones wrote extensively on issues of race, class, school re-segregation and equity.

Hannah-Jones has served as an on-going fellow for the Institute for Advanced Journalism Studies. As a fellow she has traveled twice to Cuba and reported from Watts in Los Angeles for the 40th anniversary of the Kerner Commission report.

She is also venturing into photography and multimedia, shooting and editing video as well as reporting on-air.

Hannah-Jones earned a masters of mass communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a bachelors in history and African-American studies from the University of Notre Dame.

Hannah-Jones is an Iowa native who has lived in Indiana, Georgia, North Carolina, Oregon and now New York.


A sampling of stories by Nikole Hannah-Jones

Nikole’s Recommended Reading List