Journalists develop skills related to local government coverage at 13th annual Northrop Boot Camp

  • Apr 28, 2015

Nikki Rhoads, Communications Director

Twenty-four journalists from across the state were selected to participate in last week’s 13th annual Northrop Boot Camp at PNA headquarters in Harrisburg.

One of the PNA Foundation’s most popular training opportunities, the annual boot camp is an intensive two-day workshop for reporters and editors who cover local government in Pennsylvania. Sessions focused on how to effectively report on township, borough, county and state governments, with a look at investigative reporting and open records and meetings issues.

“It was so exciting to host the 13th annual John L.S. and William B. Northrop Boot Camp,” said Melinda Condon, executive director of the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association Foundation.  “While the industry is continuously changing, the importance of covering boroughs, townships, counties, school boards and state government has not wavered.  And the value of this training is shown in the number of applications we received.”

Northrop Boot Camp 2015

Attendees had the opportunity to hear and learn from speakers including Associated Press State Capitol Reporter Mark Scolforo, Executive Director of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania Douglas Hill, PennLive/The Patriot-News Capitol Bureau Chief Jan Murphy, PNA’s Director of Government Affairs/Legislative Counsel Paula Knudsen and more.

“Being a part of this workshop and learning from so many different people was a wonderful experience,” said one attendee. “I have so much new information to apply to my stories, and I think they'll be better for it. I also learned many new places to find story ideas.”

Northrop attendeesTo be considered for the boot camp, journalists completed a competitive application process in which they were asked to explain why the training would be of value to them. Letters of recommendation from their editors were also required. The number of applicants has continued to grow in recent years, demonstrating how important the coverage of local government is to community newspapers and their readers.

Thanks to the generosity of the Northrop family and Observer Publishing Co., in Washington, PA, this workshop is held annually.  Brothers John and William Northrop were publishers at the Observer-Reporter, carrying on the tradition of their grandfather John Stewart. They ran the company from 1966 until 2002, when they retired.  Upon their retirement, they gave a donation to the PNA Foundation with the goal of a special workshop being created to teach new reporters how to cover their communities and local governments.

For more photos of the event, visit PNA's Flickr.

The PNA Foundation is an independent, non-profit corporation organized as a public foundation. Its mission is to provide training and resources to PNA members, to develop the next generation of readers and journalists, and to educate the public on the importance of the First Amendment and the role of a free press.

The PNA, founded in 1925, is the nonprofit trade association for print and digital news media in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Its mission is to advance the business interests of Pennsylvania news media companies and to promote a free and independent press. It has more than 300 newspaper and media members, including daily, weekly, and college newspapers and online publications. To learn more, visit

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