Melanie Sill, Pulitzer-Prize winning editor and journalist, will join USC Annenberg this June as Executive in Residence. Since 2007, Sill has served as Editor and Senior Vice President of the Sacramento Bee.
As Executive in Residence for the School of Journalism, Sill will lead a project focused on citizen engagement and journalism in the digital era.
“Melanie’s work will harmonize richly with so much of what is going on here at USC Annenberg, from the collaborative reporting of our news labs to our vibrant experimentation with new tools and platforms,” said Geneva Overholser, director of the School of Journalism. “Her combination of veteran excellence, an innovative turn of mind and a deep commitment to public engagement is a perfect match for us.”
Sill’s initial research will identify and explore the dozens of experiments and new journalistic approaches currently being conducted by a variety of media organizations (new and traditional) to engage communities and citizens in public affairs and civic life.
“We want to draw lessons from how these experiments are working in getting more people interested and involved in issues and decisions, both at the local level and in state and national affairs,” Sill said. “USC Annenberg, with its focus on innovation, impact and the changing role of the journalist in a digital age, provides a great environment for me to dig deeper into questions that I’ve addressed for years as a newspaper editor.”
Sill’s work at USC Annenberg will continue through the fall semester. She will work with faculty and students on models that could increase awareness and involvement among Californians regarding important issues affecting public life in local communities and across the state. Her findings will be released online as well as through public presentations at USC Annenberg and across the country.
Sill led a two-reporter team at The News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C. that was recognized in 1996 with the Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal for Public Service for the series “Boss Hog: North Carolina’s Pork Revolution.” Her career at The N&O spanned 25 years as she rose through the ranks to Executive Editor and Senior Vice President. At the Sacramento Bee, Sill has led the development and expansion of the paper’s online presence, making The Bee into the regional digital news leader. A strong proponent of open government, Sill sits on the board of directors of the California First Amendment Coalition, as well as many other journalism organizations.
“I couldn’t be more delighted at the prospect of having Melanie join us,” said Overholser. “The opportunity for our students to work with one of America’s most respected and future-oriented editors, the chance to bring the fruits of Melanie’s research to life in our own news outlets and the prospect of sharing the results with all who care about information in the public interest – all of this excites me tremendously."