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Get to know KyCIR’s new wealth and poverty reporter

Lily Burris is the newest addition to the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting team. As a Report for America Corps member, she’ll cover issues related to wealth and poverty in Kentucky.

For the past nine months, Burris has served as a tornado recovery reporter for WKMS. She became intimately familiar with the devastation that hit western Kentucky communities last December, covering everything fromfunding and rebuilding to language barriers and environmental impacts.

Burris has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Western Kentucky University and served as editor-in-chief of the College Heights Herald, WKU’s student-run newspaper. She also completed an internship with KyCIR last summer and produced a story about sewage odors in Louisville’s historically underserved communities.

Burris is one of some 300 journalists to join Report For America’s 2022 reporting corps, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities. It is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, a nonprofit journalism organization.

Here’s more about Burris, in her own words.

In 10 words or less, who is Lily Burris?

A crocheting, baking journalist who’s choosing to be hopeful.

Why did you decide to become a journalist?

I originally became a journalist because I thought it would be a really cool way to travel the world. As I got a little older and a bit smarter, I realized the part of journalism that I loved and that I wanted to do was helping share real important and powerful stories from places in the world that needed to be heard.

What are you most excited for with this new role?

I’m most excited about how pervasive this beat is. A person’s socioeconomic standing has such a huge impact on all the parts of their life. I want to look at that and see how that changes opportunities and trajectories, but I also want to see who’s monitoring that and making sure that power isn’t being abused and disadvantaging people who are already vulnerable.

What reporting work are you most proud of and why?

I’m really proud of my work as tornado recovery reporter in western Kentucky. I think so many small communities are constantly at risk of being left behind as the news landscape has evolved, but focusing on disaster recovery for several months helped keep a focus on communities in need and helped make sure they weren’t being forgotten or left behind even as the news continued to happen.

If you were a song, what would it be?

“Wow, I’m Not Crazy” by AJR

Jasmine Demers is an investigative reporter for LPM covering youth and social services. She is a corps member with Report For America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Email Jasmine at jdemers@lpm.org.

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