Joe Wertz, a senior reporter and managing editor for StateImpact Oklahoma – a journalism collaboration of NPR member stations in that state – will join the Center for Public Integrity’s Pulitzer Prize-winning environment and workers’ rights team on Feb. 25.
Wertz has reported on energy and the environment for national NPR audiences as well as local stations in Oklahoma. A skilled data journalist, he has reported on topics such as earthquakes associated with oil and gas activity; former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s questionable handling of a water pollution case while he was Oklahoma attorney general; and the politics of wind farms (he mapped each of the 3,736 wind turbines in the state). He partnered with the Center on stories about the oil industry’s influence on public education and weak regulation of toxic coal ash.
Wertz teaches a university course on data journalism and is president Freedom of Information Oklahoma, an open records and government transparency nonprofit. He has worked as a managing editor, assistant editor and staff reporter at several major newspapers and studied journalism at the University of Central Oklahoma.
“Joe brings to the Center an unusual combination of talents,” said acting CEO Jim Morris. “He’s an outstanding data journalist and an accomplished shoe-leather reporter who can make complex topics understandable and compelling for the average reader and listener. His extensive work on energy production and pollution in Oklahoma will serve us well as we strive to make our journalism more relevant to the public beyond the bubble of Washington, D.C.”