Taylor Blatchford

News Producer • The Seattle Times • Seattle, WA
Last edited August 28, 2019

Taylor has created “The Lead,” a weekly newsletter that provides resources and connections for college and high school student journalists, aimed particularly those who don’t have resources within their schools or colleges.

In its first year the newsletter has covered topics include diversifying student newsrooms, advocating for student press freedom, preparing for internships and professional careers and using self-care strategies when reporting on taxing stories.

It also showcases innovative projects from student newsrooms, such as Elon University’s first bilingual newspaper issue, 200 student reporters working together to tell 1,200 stories of gun violence and University of Texas-Arlington reporters using reader engagement to drive story ideas.

Taylor writes the newsletter independently of her full-time job at The Seattle Times. Since she launched the newsletter in September 2018, more than 1,000 subscribers have signed up, including teachers and professional journalists in addition to students.

“I believe ‘The Lead’ has resonated with students and educators around the country because it fills a specialized audience’s need for resources,” Taylor said. “Student journalists face a lot of unique challenges including censorship, balancing reporting with school, and a lack of funding. They need specific support to address those issues.”

“‘The Lead’ advances digital journalism because it is an investment in the future generation of journalists. I especially want to reach students without strong student newspapers or large journalism schools and bring more equity into the industry by broadening that pipeline,” she added.

Taylor hopes to form more connections with professional journalism organizations and schools to help bring the newsletter to a larger audience. She also wants to create a consistent forum for student journalists around the country to communicate with each other, such as a Slack workspace.

The MJ Bear Fellowship Selection Committee said, “Her work exhibits great initiative, a level of beyond-work excellence, determination and entrepreneurialism. While designed for student journalists, her newsletter is a great resource for teachers and professional journalists as well. This is remarkable work for such a young journalist.”

Said Taylor’s recommender Gina Cole, assistant metro editor at The Seattle Times: “The support Taylor provides via ‘The Lead’ can make a difference — especially for students without access to the resources and connections big cities or big-name schools have to offer. This is critical. For newsrooms to accurately reflect the communities they cover, the journalists working there must come from a variety of backgrounds.“

Taylor started working on The Seattle Times’ digital team in the fall of 2018. She graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism, where she received a Bachelor of Journalism degree with an emphasis on investigative and international reporting.

She was a Google News Lab Fellow at The Poynter Institute, has spoken at Nieman Foundation and Investigative Reporters and Editors conferences and has judged various student journalist workshops.