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Award-winning journalist to speak at Linfield

Jim TankersleyWashington Post economic policy correspondent Jim Tankersley will explain the newspaper’s plans for a new model of journalism combining rich data analysis and storytelling in “Tell me a story (with numbers, too)” Wednesday, April 16, at 7:30 p.m. in 201 Riley Hall at Linfield College.

Tankersley, an award-winning journalist who was born and raised in McMinnville, is leading the Washington Post’s new effort to use narrative journalism as a way to tell complex, policy-oriented stories that will grab readers. He will explain the newspaper’s plans for a new model of journalism that combines rich data analysis and storytelling.

“America’s problems are growing more and more complex,” Tankersley said. “It’s hard to tell why the economy isn’t creating nearly as many middle-class jobs as it used to, or why health care costs so much, or whether the growing reach of government helps more than it hurts.

“The great challenge in American journalism today is helping news consumers − readers and viewers and listeners − understand those puzzles, so the country can solve the big problems,” he continued. “To do that, journalists need to put a ‘Big Data’ twist on an old standby: rich, human storytelling.”

“We are thrilled that Jim is going to be visiting Linfield to talk about journalism,” said Brad Thompson, associate professor and chair of the Mass Communication Department. “This will be a great opportunity for our students to interact with one of the finest journalists working at the forefront of the intersection of new media and journalism.”

The new, yet-to-be-named data and storytelling blog at the Post joins an existing effort called Wonkblog, which was founded and led by Ezra Klein, who recently left the newspaper for another venture. In announcing the new blog, the newspaper said it “will combine top-shelf writing, razor-sharp data analysis and rich human drama to explain and illuminate complicated public policy topics for our audience.

“The site will feature a steady stream of data-driven, narrative stories, with words, photographs and video; vibrant graphics that explain complex trends; and a variety of frontier-pushing approaches to engage readers in conversations about how to solve America’s biggest problems,” the Post said.

“In other words, we will tell stories through the voices of ordinary Americans; we will tell stories with numbers; and we will tell stories with our users’ help.” The newspaper is hiring writers and “data wizards,” as well as relying on current reporters, to staff the new initiative.

Tankersley got his start in journalism as an intern at the McMinnville News-Register while in ninth grade. He worked four summers at the paper, graduated from McMinnville High School and left for Stanford University. There he earned a political science degree and was editor in chief of the Stanford Daily.

He covered education at The Oregonian; politics at the Rocky Mountain News in Denver and the Toledo Blade in Ohio; politics and environmental issues for the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times Washington Bureau; and economics at National Journal magazine. He joined the Washington Post as economic policy correspondent in late 2012. He won the 2007 Livingston Award for Young Journalists and the 1996 “Most Inspirational” award for the McMinnville High School boys’ basketball team. He and his wife, Marci Prenger, have a 7-year-old son, Max.

The lecture is free and open to the public, and sponsored by the Linfield mass communication department. For more information, contact Thompson at 503-883-2291.