After a journalism adventure through the deep snow of Nome, Alaska, the steady rain of the Pacific Northwest – and surviving the murder hornets near Bellingham, Washington – Julia Lerner is ready to return to Licking County and the four seasons of central Ohio.

The Reporting Project at Denison University has hired Lerner to serve as its managing editor. Lerner is a Granville native, and she will join the team of journalists at The Reporting Project on Oct. 9. 

“We’re delighted to have Julia join us,“ said Jack Shuler, chair of the Journalism Program at Denison. “Her experience and reporting skills will bring new perspectives and energy to the work that TRP is doing – and will allow us to do even more!” 

Lerner, 26, said she is looking forward to coming home to the community where she grew up, in part because she knows there are many important stories here to tell. The Reporting Project is the nonprofit news organization of the Denison Journalism Program. It is staffed by students and faculty in the Journalism Program and focuses coverage on Licking County.

“Local news is the lifeblood of our democracy,” Lerner said. 

“National news organizations are going to talk about presidents and celebrities,” she said, but at the local level, the important news is that which helps people build a community and navigate their daily lives – “whether or not a street is closed, or whether I’m going to have clean water coming out of my tap.”

“People having access to the information about what’s happening around them is the most important thing they can have,” she said. “And I can’t think of any greater privilege than to bring that to my home community.”

Julia Lerner joins colleagues at the Cascadia Daily News as the first paper rolled off the press at the start-up in 2022.

For most of the past decade, Lerner has lived and worked as a journalist in Maryland; Washington, D.C.; Alaska; and Bellingham, Washington. She has lived in communities in Alaska where people didn’t have regular access to running water, and in a big city such as Washington, D.C., where more than 700,000 people have no representation in Congress.

“I’ll be able to take what I’ve learned outside of Licking County and apply it to what is happening inside Licking County,” she said.

Lerner said the opportunity to help guide a startup news organization is in her wheelhouse, because she has been working for one in Bellingham, Washington. 

Her latest reporting job has involved covering environmental and natural resources issues for The Cascadia Daily News in Bellingham. She has reported on forest fires, agriculture, environmental issues on tribal lands, pollution, and state and national park management. 

Her first work in journalism happened at Granville High School, where she was editor in chief of Blueprints, the school’s magazine, which was advised by Amy Tolbert. 

“Being from the area gives me a unique perspective,” Lerner said. “I saw what life was like for so many people as I was growing up. Now I get to dig into the stories.”  

Lerner is a 2015 graduate of Granville High School, and a graduate of the University of Maryland, where she earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism. She completed a fellowship at the Library of Congress’s Congressional Research Service; served as assistant to the Baruch S. Blumberg NASA Chair in Astrobiology at the Kluge Center for Scholars; and worked at CNN. 

She left the D.C. area to work as an investigative reporter at The Nome Nugget, Alaska’s oldest newspaper. Her work has been published in The Washington Post, The Seattle Times, The Oregonian and other publications. 

“I’m looking forward to coming back to a community I grew up in and has many valuable stories worth telling and sharing, and I’m excited to do this now,” Lerner said.