COLLEGE PARK (4/8/19) — Kathy Best, who led The Seattle Times to two Pulitzer Prizes after successful stops in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and St. Louis, will be the first director of the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism at the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism.
Best, currently editor of The Missoulian in Missoula, Montana, will join Merrill College this spring. Once here, she’ll formally launch the Howard Center, a new multidisciplinary program funded by the Scripps Howard Foundation in honor of Roy W. Howard that seeks to tell stories of national and international importance while training the next generation of watchdog reporters.
“Kathy Best is a dynamic newsroom leader with a long track record of getting the most out of the journalists she works with,” Merrill College Dean Lucy A. Dalglish said. “She digs into stories that matter to the community and is eager to use what she’s learned to launch the Howard Center and make it a worldwide leader in investigative reporting.”
Liz Carter, CEO and president of the Scripps Howard Foundation, said the foundation was “thrilled to have a journalist of Kathy’s caliber, vision and experience leading the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism at the University of Maryland.”
Best started her career as a reporter, covering Washington for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch after covering the Illinois legislature and state politics in Springfield and Chicago.
She became an editor at The Seattle Post-Intelligencer in 1996, rising to assistant managing editor before returning to St. Louis as the Post Dispatch’s assistant managing editor in 2001.
In 2005, Best became assistant managing editor of The Baltimore Sun, overseeing the Sunday newspaper and national news and leading an investigation into a failed National Security Agency anti-terrorism program.
Best returned to Seattle — this time at The Seattle Times — in 2007, beginning a decade-long rise that culminated in leading the newsroom to staff Pulitzer Prizes in 2012 and 2015 as managing editor and then as editor and vice president of the newspaper.
In both cases — covering the manhunt for a gunman who shot four police officers and a deadly mudslide — Best pushed her staff to investigate amid these breaking news situations, helping readers understand not just what happened, but why.
She moved to Missoula with her late husband, two-time Pulitzer winner Andrew Schneider, in 2016. At The Missoulian, Best took charge of a young newsroom, helping reporters develop enterprise ideas and learn digital skills while pursuing partnerships with other newsrooms, the University of Montana and the Solutions Journalism Network.
Best, who holds a master’s degree from the University of Illinois at Springfield, said she’ll use her four decades of experience “to help train the next generation of investigative journalists at a critical moment for our profession and for our democracy. Jobs don’t get any better or more important than that.”
She looks forward to working with Merrill College faculty and Capital News Service, the college’s nonprofit student-staffed news organization, as well as other partners to publish impactful investigations across the country.
“When people are talking about the future of journalism, I want them to point to the University of Maryland as a shining example of how it can be done right and why it matters,” Best said.