Jacob Fries, an editor experienced in leading groundbreaking work by journalists, will take over leadership of Seattle-based InvestigateWest. The Board of Directors of the awarding-winning journalism outlet made the announcement on Thursday, September 23, 2021.
Before joining InvestigateWest, Fries spent more than a decade leading the Inlander, a Spokane-based weekly paper covering the Inland Northwest that’s become a regional powerhouse for narrative and accountability reporting. The paper’s in-depth reports have prompted civil rights lawsuits, helped to free wrongfully convicted men, and held powerful interests to account. In 2016, Editor & Publisher named the Inlander one of “10 newspapers that do it right.”
A Pacific Northwest native, he previously worked as a reporter at the Tampa Bay Times and the New York Times, and his work has appeared in numerous publications, including the Seattle Times, the Denver Post, and the Boston Globe.
“When we read in Fries’ resume that he spent 48 hours living as an inmate in a maximum-security cellblock for a story on criminal justice, we became intrigued to learn more about him,” said Don Smith, Board president for InvestigateWest. “When we learned that Fries’ newsroom reporting prompted reforms in criminal justice and mental health systems in Spokane, we knew that Fries believed, as we do, that investigative journalism should have impact and create change. And as we learned more about Fries’ leadership style and his proven commitment in mentoring young, diverse journalists, we knew we had our new Executive Director.”
Fries, who starts on October 11, 2021, replaces Allison Augustyn who left earlier this summer. Fries will report to the board of InvestigateWest and will remain in Spokane, Washington. Smith said that with the expanded opportunities for telework, the board and Fries believe that having a full-time person in Eastern Washington presents a chance to deepen InvestigateWest’s history of statewide and Northwest coverage.
Board Member Celia Wu, who assumed some operational duties in recent weeks, said there will be strong support for Fries as he launches efforts to diversify the staff and continue the broadening of coverage. Robert McClure, who led InvestigateWest as executive editor through most of its history before departing earlier this year, has agreed to take on some editing duties. And Neal Pattison, who has filled in as interim executive editor after retiring from a long editing career in the Northwest, has agreed to help Fries get settled while finally getting to retire.