Brooke Stephenson. Courtesy of Stephenson.

Cardinal News has added a digital audience engagement editor in order to expand the reach of our in-depth journalism.

Brooke Stephenson joins us from ProPublica, where she recently completed a Scripps-Howard fellowship. Cardinal News was able to add this important position, which combines journalism and marketing, due to a generous gift from The Secular Society.

“We are fortunate to have Brooke join our team. She brings digital savvy skills that will widen our readership by connecting more and more people to the valuable stories that we tell,” said Luanne Rife, executive director. “Brooke also is a native of Blacksburg and understands well the communities we serve.”

Brooke is passionate about ensuring in-depth local news serves readers and reaches them where they are. As someone with deep roots in Southwest Virginia, she is also excited to help ensure the major headlines about our region that reach Washington and Richmond are written by the people who know our communities best.

Brooke grew up canoeing the New River, hiking Blue Ridge Mountain trails and grubbing around in the creek with her brother. She graduated from Blacksburg High School then attended the College of William & Mary, where she majored in public policy and minored in writing. 

During college, Brooke wrote for the student newspaper, The Flat Hat, interned at Trail Runner Magazine, and won the Glenwood Clark Fiction Prize. She decided to pursue a career in journalism after working on a year-long investigation on safety in remote Alaskan native communities as a student fellow for the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Since graduating, Brooke has published articles for Trail Runner and the Carolina Public Press, learned to optimize websites for Google search as an SEO consultant in California, and ran email campaigns and social media accounts for several clients. 

Most recently, Brooke spent over a year as a Scripps-Howard Newsletter and Audience Fellow at ProPublica. Some of her favorite work from ProPublica includes a personal investigation of how “free” TurboTax really is (answer: not very) and highlighted ProPublica’s past reporting on how the company tricked millions of people into paying for a service that should have been free.