Salem Reporter managing editor selected for global journalism training program 

Rachel Alexander, managing editor of Salem Reporter, will take part in a new international training program intended to boost reporting done by local newsrooms. 

Alexander is one of 25 journalists selected for the Emerging Leadership Program. The six-month program begins on April 2 and is intended to train newsroom leaders in “advanced digital skills, the business of journalism, management and leadership,” according to organizers at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York. 

“We have done remarkably well as a newsroom just off the strength of our coverage and a lot of word of mouth and community support,” according to Alexander. She said Salem Reporter has an opportunity for a more systematic look at data, to engage with readers to learn what is making people choose whether to subscribe and how the news organization can better serve people to increase its readership.

Editor Les Zaitz said the training is a “tremendous opportunity” for Alexander, the rest of Salem Reporter’s team and the Salem community. 

“She will get some of the most advanced national training there is in the business of modern journalism, a remarkable opportunity for a small start-up news organization,” Zaitz said. “At Salem Reporter, we are cutting against the industry mode of shrinking, due in no small part to the trust that growing numbers of Salem readers put in us. What Rachel will learn in the next six months helps us grow, get even stronger and serve Salem even better.”

This training program will provide online classes taught by industry experts from news organizations around the world, according to an announcement Tuesday from the Newmark Journalism School. Participating journalists will also be coached in small groups.

The program is a partnership with the Google News Initiative, which helps publishers and journalists “fight misinformation, share resources and build a diverse and innovative news ecosystem,” according to its website.

Participating journalists come from five countries including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, the United States, and Zimbabwe. Many work at magazines, newspapers, radio stations and online news startups with fewer than 25 employees, according to organizers’ announcement.

Alexander is one of three journalism professionals selected for the training program from the Pacific Northwest, including Margaux Maxwell, director of platform and product at Oregon Public Broadcasting.

She graduated in 2013 from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, where she served as editor-in-chief of its student newspaper. 

She worked as a reporter and assistant web editor at the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin before joining The Spokesman-Review in Spokane in 2014. There, she spent nearly four years reporting on social services, health care, homelessness and public safety.

In 2018, Alexander was part of the original startup crew at Salem Reporter. She has continued covering education and nonprofits since being promoted to managing editor in January 2021.

She also served as president of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Oregon chapter in 2020. She remains active with SPJ as co-chair of the chapter’s sunshine committee, lobbying for improved records access and open government.

Alexander said the application process for Newmark’s training program included answering questions about her newsroom, what she wanted to focus on and why she thought leadership and management training would help both her and Salem Reporter grow. 

She said it’s been about 10 years since she’s had dedicated training related to digital news, and she lost such opportunities after several journalism conferences were canceled during the pandemic.

“I haven’t had a lot of time to kind of sit back and really think strategically about how we can grow and better serve our community as an organization,” she said. “I’m really excited that this will give me a chance to do that and learn from journalists around the world.”

Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian: [email protected] or 503-929-3053.

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Ardeshir Tabrizian has covered criminal justice and housing for Salem Reporter since September 2021. As an Oregon native, his award-winning watchdog journalism has traversed the state. He has done reporting for The Oregonian, Eugene Weekly and Malheur Enterprise.