InvestigateWest is thrilled to welcome two full-time reporters and a veteran editor to the team as the nonprofit newsroom aims to fill widening gaps in local investigative reporting, especially in underserved communities across the Pacific Northwest.

Whitney Bryen comes to the organization as an investigative reporter from Oklahoma Watch, where she covered vulnerable populations. She will be based in Boise. Melanie Henshaw, also an investigative reporter, joins the team after producing distinguished work for Portland’s Street Roots newspaper. She will be based in Vancouver, Washington, and cover Indigenous affairs. Shawn Vestal has worked as an editor, reporter and columnist for more than 35 years at Northwest newspapers, most recently at the Spokesman-Review in Spokane. He will be an editor and operations coordinator for InvestigateWest.

“InvestigateWest is staffing up to meet the moment — to produce and support local investigative reporting at a time when the region and the country face enormous challenges, from homelessness and climate change to democracy itself,” Executive Director Jacob H. Fries said. “We couldn’t be more excited to welcome these three powerhouse journalists — Whitney, Melanie and Shawn — to the team. Their work will have a huge impact across the Northwest.”

InvestigateWest’s steady growth over the past few years sets it apart from other media. Indeed, 2023 was deemed the worst year for the news industry since the pandemic, with news companies slashing thousands of jobs, but there have been many bad years of late. InvestigateWest was founded during one of them, in 2009, when the Seattle PI stopped printing and a group of laid-off journalists set out to preserve the type of hard, labor-intensive investigative reporting that shapes public policy and holds power to account.

Over the years, InvestigateWest’s reporting has prompted scores of reforms, including nearly a dozen state laws protecting the environment, workers and foster children. 

Learn more about InvestigateWest’s change-making journalism and consider making a donation to the reader-supported nonprofit. And below read more about the newest members of the InvestigateWest team, all of whom will start on April 8:

WHITNEY BRYEN is an award-winning reporter with a passion for open records and raising the voices of disadvantaged people. A graduate of the University of Oklahoma, Bryen cut her journalism teeth at the Boulder Daily Camera and the Longmont Times-Call in Colorado covering general assignments and education. After returning to her home state of Oklahoma, Bryen’s reporting on domestic violence, COVID-19 and the deadly toll of untreated mental illness on jail detainees moved state leaders to action resulting in policy change. Reach her at 

MELANIE HENSHAW covers Indigenous affairs and communities in the Pacific Northwest. Formerly the Indigenous affairs reporter for Portland’s Street Roots, Henshaw focuses on tribal sovereignty, environmental destruction and cultural preservation. Henshaw is a graduate of the University of Oregon and citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. Reach her at

SHAWN VESTAL has been a journalist in the Northwest for more than 35 years, working as an editor, reporter and columnist at newspapers in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. Most recently, he has been a columnist at The Spokesman-Review in Spokane since 2012. He is also the author of two works of fiction: “Godforsaken Idaho,” a collection of short stories that won the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Award for debut fiction, and “Daredevils,” a novel that won the Washington Book Award. Reach him at