Spotlight PA is the largest statewide news organization in Pennsylvania and the most ambitious collaborative journalism project in the state’s history. The newsroom was founded in 2019 as a bold new approach to addressing the crisis in journalism in Pennsylvania, amid the rapid disintegration of commercial media and the rise of partisan disinformation. Spotlight PA’s team of investigative reporters is answering the call, delivering vital statehouse and statewide reporting at no cost via SpotlightPa.org, email newsletters, and 79 newsroom partners reaching over 35 million people. The newsroom’s accountability reporting on topics like lawmaker spending, pipeline safety, and addiction treatment have garnered state and national awards, including from the Online News Association and the Institute for Nonprofit News.
Most important, Spotlight PA’s investigations are driving meaningful reform in Harrisburg, restoring trust, and strengthening democracy in Pennsylvania. With the American Journalism Project’s support, Spotlight PA will build a revenue and operations team to support the newsroom’s impressive growth and to ensure that Spotlight PA becomes a permanent fixture in Pennsylvania. AJP’s grant will also enable Spotlight PA to transition to an independent nonprofit organization.
The need for strong investigative journalism in Pennsylvania has never been greater, and Spotlight PA is answering the call in a collaborative and bold new way. Together, we can hold the powerful to account."
Christopher Baxter, Executive Director and Editor in Chief of Spotlight PA
Christopher Baxter is the executive director and founding editor in chief of Spotlight PA, and oversees all aspects of the organization. His work as an investigative reporter and editor has regularly prompted meaningful change in the form of new laws and regulations, criminal investigations, resignations, legislative hearings, and more. Most recently, he was the editor for data and investigations at NJ Advance Media (NJ.com & The Star-Ledger), where he led the newsroom’s highest-level investigative projects with a digital-first approach and an emphasis on journalism that gets results. Previously, he was the Mike Wallace Fellow in Investigative Reporting with the Knight-Wallace Fellowships at the University of Michigan and, before that, worked for four years as a statehouse investigative reporter in The Star-Ledger’s Trenton Bureau. He began his career as a local reporter for The Morning Call in Allentown, Pa. His work has garnered dozens of some of the most prestigious state and national awards, including the 2014 Livingston Award in Local Reporting, the 2018 Investigative Reporters & Editors Freedom of Information Award, as well as the 2019 Knight Award for Public Service and the 2019 Investigative Data Journalism Award from the Online News Association.
Joanna Zuckerman Bernstein joined Spotlight PA as the Development Director in 2019, and has led myriad initiatives since the newsroom’s launch, from effectively building local and national support for Spotlight PA’s public-service journalism, to expanding the newsroom’s partnerships and creating its civic events program. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Joanna received her B.A. from Columbia University and also has a master's degree from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, where she was a Stabile Investigative Fellow. As an investigative reporter, she was part of a team at the Miami Herald chosen as a finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in Local Reporting. In addition, she has worked as a foreign correspondent in Mexico City for Reuters, and has held fundraising and communications roles at nonprofit organizations in Mexico City, New York, and Chicago.
Sarah Anne Hughes is deputy editor of Spotlight PA, overseeing day-to-day news operations. She is a native Pennsylvanian who has helped lead newsrooms in Harrisburg and Washington, D.C. She was previously associate editor of the Pennsylvania Capital-Star and a Report for America fellow with Billy Penn and The Incline covering the state legislature. Before returning to her home state, Sarah was managing editor of Washington City Paper, editor of DCist, and a reporter for The Washington Post.