WyoFile is immensely proud to announce that WyoFile reporter Dustin Bleizeffer is a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow for the 2016-17 program at Stanford University in California where he’ll research a major new editorial project for WyoFile.
Bleizeffer is one of 18 journalists worldwide selected for the highly competitive fellowship program. His topic: How can nonprofit online news creatively use technology to reinvigorate journalism and democracy in the rural West? His work will include how to engage the people of Wyoming, and in particular the people of Gillette, in finding the way forward in the midst of coal’s decline and major changes in the energy industry.
There is no more important topic for Wyoming today than addressing the changes in the energy industry. Bleizeffer’s work will benefit WyoFile, its readers, and journalism in Wyoming, since WyoFile content is available for republication by media outlets statewide at no cost.
A major challenge for journalism is how to use emerging tools to produce media that increases citizen engagement in key policy issues like energy production and use. Bleizeffer’s project will seek to get a socio-economically broad audience to turn to serious online media for the information they need and to find an avenue for impact on policy decisions.
Bleizeffer grew up in Gillette and Wright, and worked in the energy industry in the early 1990s. He began covering the industry for the Gillette News-Record in 1998. He moved on to become the energy reporter for the Casper Star-Tribune, and in 2010 WyoFile hired him as editor-in-chief.
“Dustin is thorough, dedicated, honest, and fearless,” WyoFile Board Chair Anne MacKinnon said. “The capacity and experience he has developed in covering the energy industry, now so challenged by climate change and the policy and market responses, has made him the perfect guy for WyoFile, and now the perfect guy for this fellowship. The Knight fellowship will give him the mid-career opportunity he deserves to become a still finer journalist.”
Bleizeffer will be based at Stanford University for the 2016-17 academic year as he works with experts in fields such as economics, sociology, and internet technology to research and shape in-depth reporting on the future of the energy industry, and innovative means for reader engagement.
He will take a break from his WyoFile responsibilities starting in September to work on this project. “We’ll miss him, but we’ll manage, and look forward to getting him back, with a whole new project to put on line on WyoFile,” MacKinnon said. Bleizeffer expects to return to Wyoming and WyoFile in June 2017.
“The JSK Journalism Fellowships program champions innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership in journalism, by helping fellows pursue their ideas, formulated as ‘journalism challenges’ to improve the quality of news and information reaching the public,” according to JSK. “Fellows collaborate with each other, with Stanford faculty and students, with Silicon Valley engineers and entrepreneurs and others to advance their ideas.”