|Ken Ward Jr.|
"There’s all this 'doom and gloom for local journalism stories' that have happened in the last week or so, and I hope that other people see what we’re doing and understand that the important thing is the journalism — it’s the stories, it’s the investigations — that’s what matters," Ward told Smith.
In addition to his role in the new initiative, Ward has signed on as a full-time ProPublica staffer, he told The Rural Blog in an email. Ward had been part of ProPublica's Local Reporting Network, a project that supports investigative journalism at smaller papers, since its inaugural class in 2018. That same year, he won a MacArthur Foundation fellowship based on his investigative reporting. And in 2019, Ward was one of three winners of the Tom and Pat Gish Award, presented by the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues (publisher of The Rural Blog), for his tenacious reporting on coal and other rural topics.