David Waters Joins Institute for Public Service Reporting

February 26, 2019 - Award-winning Memphis journalist David Waters is joining the staff of the Institute for Public Service Reporting, a professional newsroom on the University of Memphis campus that produces robust, independent investigative reporting and in-depth explanatory journalism on issues of importance to the Greater Memphis area while also providing hands-on training to UofM students.

Waters, 60, starts March 1 at the Institute, where he will serve as assistant director.

He retired earlier this month from The Commercial Appeal where he worked for more than 35 years in a variety of reporting and editing positions, including religion and education reporter, columnist and editorial page editor. He also was religion editor for The Washington Post from 2007-10 and launched, wrote, edited and produced its On Faith website and Under God blog. Waters is a 1981 graduate of the UofM, where he's taught many undergraduate and graduate courses over the years.

He joins another Commercial Appeal alum, Marc Perrusquia, the Institute's director.

One of this city's most-respected journalists, Waters has written several award-winning explanatory narrative series on everything from the impact of generational poverty to a Memphis medical team's treatment of heart patients in the Balkans, and has lectured on explanatory narrative journalism for the Poynter Institute, the National Writers Workshop, Southern Newspaper Publishers, Religion Newswriters Association and Scripps Howard. His numerous state and national journalism awards include a Distinguished Writing Award from the American Society of Newspaper Editors, five Wilbur Awards from the Religion Communicators Council and induction in the Scripps Howard Editorial Hall of Fame.

"The Institute for Public Service Reporting at the University of Memphis is making major strides in its first year, and the hiring of David Waters, an award-winning, highly respected Memphis journalist with more than 35 years' experience, will be a tremendous asset for our students," said UofM President M. David Rudd. "Under the leadership of veterans Marc Perrusquia and David, the Institute is creating avenues to prepare our students to gain valuable experience, excel in the workplace and make a positive impact on our city."

At the Institute, Waters will focus on the daunting struggles facing children in Memphis and adults who are trying to help them deal with poverty, violence, trauma, poor health, under-resourced schools and other challenges. The Institute intends to raise funds from foundations and the general public to assemble a newsroom with a small professional staff that will produce news stories and help train graduate assistants.

The Institute collaborates with The Daily Memphian, a nonprofit online newspaper that opened in September. The Daily Memphian publishes articles produced by the Institute. The initiative follows scores of similar efforts nationwide to create nonprofit news organizations in the vacuum left by the decline of the newspaper industry.

The Institute also intends to eventually forge similar partnerships with media organizations in television, radio and podcasting. It is the hope that these partnerships will provide vital information as well as training for students over a spectrum of media platforms. Though the Institute is housed in the UofM's Department of Journalism and Strategic Media, it is a free-standing, multidisciplinary center where graduate students from a variety of disciplines will be able to gain writing and research experience.

Follow the Institute's Twitter site at @IPSRUM.