Dallas Morning News seeks a transportation and mobility reporter

October 18, 2023

Posted by Chris Roush

The Dallas Morning News is looking for a reporter who can drive our coverage of transportation and mobility to the next level in one of America’s fastest growing regions.

Texas’ population just crossed the 30 million mark and demographers predict it’ll grow to nearly 40 million by 2036 — the equivalent of adding a city the size of Austin every year for the next decade.

That explosive growth touches every facet of life for those living, working and playing here, as well as the soon-to-arrive transplants. And the impact of such growth raises serious questions about whether all residents will have equitable access to transportation that can help them live in affordable neighborhoods and commute to work.

For the right reporter, this beat will be a goldmine of stories about topics shaping the future of Dallas-Fort Worth and the broader region.

Here are some examples of the trends you’ll tackle:

  • Congestion: D-FW residents spend as many as 67 hours a year stuck in traffic, resulting in lost productivity, increased gasoline consumption and heightened air quality issues. As regional leaders look to the future, what are the solutions being explored for reducing gridlock?

  • Managing growth: Do roads follow rooftops? Or do rooftops follow roads? That age-old urban planning question is increasingly playing out on the edges of D-FW, where once-rural communities are in line to become the next growth areas. Are community leaders ready? Are residents willing? As new employment centers get created across D-FW (think semiconductors to the north, a ground-up corporate hub with thousands of workers in the middle and a professional services corridor to the west), development will follow as home buyers and renters look to minimize their work commutes.

  • City center vibrancy: As D-FW expands, what does that mean for a city center like downtown Dallas, where 1980s-era towers are being bypassed in favor of amenity-rich suburban campuses? How does the urban center stay relevant?

  • Unprecedented technology advances: Autonomous trucks and cars will soon be traveling local highways and streets — some carrying cargo, others ferrying ride-hailin travelers around the region. EVs are being pushed by automakers as a replacement for combustion engines, raising questions about the charging infrastructure needed to support those vehicles and whether the state’s already-strained electric grid can meet that demand. Air taxis are predicted to be shuttling travelers to local airports by 2040. Drones are delivering packages to residents’ doorsteps. All of these technological advances raise significant policy and practical implications, as well as crucial funding decisions for governments and businesses.

  • Follow the money: Texas spends about $20 billion annually to maintain and improve its transportation network. The $548 billion infrastructure plan approved by Congress in 2021 will pump over $35 billion into the state over the next five years for highways and roads, public transportation and improved water infrastructure. A key component of this beat will be to follow the money, providing accountability for this massive infusion of capital.

  • Privatization: The state’s move to privatize some highway management is arguably prudent government, but what is the impact on D-FW drivers? Are highway tolls eating into local residents’ personal budgets? Is dynamic pricing of high-speed highway lanes the transportation equivalent of the health care industry’s “surprise billing” problem?

  • Eminent domain: Road projects often require taking homeowners’ land for highway expansion, creating conflicts in a state where land ownership is highly valued. How often does the state employ this tactic? And are residents being displaced able to replace their homes for what the state offers them?

  • Mobility of goods and services: Transportation is a big business in D-FW, one of the nation’s main logistics hubs for truck, train and air. What conflicts and challenges does that create for the peaceful coexistence of commerce and commuters?

All of that is a way of saying we’re looking for a reporter who can connect, or dissect, these topics into urgent, aggressive and revelatory journalism that illuminates the challenges ahead for our region. Community benefit and equity will be key themes to this beat’s in-depth coverage.

The successful candidate also will possess significant data skills, a strong understanding of social media and digital metrics, and a passion for growing an online audience. The ability to balance enterprise and daily news coverage also is a must-have trait.

This position is funded by a two-year grant and The News is committed to fundraise to extend it beyond the initial two years.

Applicants should have at least five years of daily reporting experience on a government, business or enterprise beat. Fluency in Spanish is a plus.

To apply, go here.

Subscribe to TBN

Receive updates about new stories in the industry daily or weekly.

Subscribe to TBN

Receive updates about new stories in the industry.