Phyllis Fletcher, managing editor of the Northwest News Network, has been selected as the inaugural recipient of PRNDI’s Editor of the Year award.
PRNDI is celebrating 2017 as the “Year of the Editor.” The editor of the year award is designed to recognize an individual who exemplifies the very best in story editing and newsroom leadership.
“Phyllis Fletcher is one of the finest editors working in public media today. Her positive influence on the many reporters she has worked with is evident in the work they have produced,” says PRNDI President Terry Gildea. “She continues to be a vital mentor to people she works with. PRNDI is excited to honor her with our first annual Editor of the Year Award.”
Fletcher has been with Northwest News Network (N3) since August of 2014, where she oversees and edits the work of N3’s reporters, identifies opportunities for collaborative news projects among partner stations, and facilitates the sharing of content between stations and newsrooms.
N3 Richland correspondent Anna King describes as an innovator, adventurous storyteller, deft reporter and a deeply-involved editor who cares about her reporters.
“Over the last several years, I’ve been covering record-large wildfires in the Northwest,” says King. “Phyllis has pulled on her virtual ‘boots’ to be with me every time.”
King says all of N3’s reporters know Fletcher has their backs and think she’s one of the best editors working in public media today.
“Phyllis has the rare ability to put her editing mark on a story while also honoring and encouraging the unique voice of the reporter,” says Austin Jenkins, N3’s Olympia correspondent. “She will literally flip the structure of a story to make it stronger, while still allowing the reporter’s storytelling style to remain intact.”
“The most touching thing about this is to learn that reporters I’ve edited feel there’s something special about what we’ve done together. I admire them so much,” says Fletcher. “I’m always fascinated by what they’re able to dig up and to hear the stories of how they did it. I know our audience is informed, energized, and often challenged, by the people my reporters talk to, the dots they connect, the investigations they undertake and the stories they tell. It’s my honor to facilitate their work.”
Fletcher is also an editor with Next Generation Radio, where she works with aspiring student and early-career journalists. She participated in the program herself in 2003.
“Phyllis has grown into one of best known editors in public media as well as a decorated reporter,” says Doug Mitchell, Next Generation Radio’s founder and project manager. “At a time when our industry is struggling to find people, especially those of color, who want to assume an editorial leadership role, Phyllis raised her hand when the opportunity came. Today, she sets a clear example of how to master subject matter, work with an individual to help her/him tell a story, do so quickly and all the while being a coach and mentor.”
Mitchell describes Fletcher’s style as smooth, cheerful and exacting and says she brings out the best in the young people she works with.
“Phyllis is one of the greatest mentors I’ve ever had,” says Angela Nhi Nguyen, a Washington State University student, Next Generation Radio alumni, and freelancer reporter for N3. “Working with Phyllis is fun, refreshing and rewarding. She adds dimensions to the stories she edits and helps me learn something new every time. She eagerly supports me in my internship applications and reminds me to be confident in my capabilities, and most importantly, myself.
Prior to working at N3, the Seattle-native was an editor and reporter at KUOW for more than a decade. She came to public media journalism after a short career in software engineering.
Fletcher’s family has deep roots in the Pacific Northwest. Her mother grew up in the tiny wheat-ranching town of Prescott, and her father grew up in the city of Pasco, where the black population boomed during and after WWII.
“Their contrasting childhoods and my childhood visits to their hometowns have given me a special appreciation of all of my northwest peoples, whom my reporters cover every day,” says Fletcher.
Fletcher is also interim president of the Seattle Association of Black Journalists and an occasional contributor to the daily podcast Too Beautiful To Live from American Public Media. For fun, she co-produces two long-running stage shows in Seattle where people read from their old diaries and tell stories from their lives.
Fletcher will be awarded the Editor of the Year award on Saturday, June 24 at PRNDI’s conference in Miami.
“I love my reporters and I love PRNDI for creating this award,” says Fletcher. “I’m excited to see my fellow editors and future recipients of this honor at the conference!”