Signal Cleveland

Please welcome to Signal Cleveland Helen Maynard, our news editor; April Urban, our director of research and impact; and Abbey Marshall, our service journalism reporter! Helen, April and Abbey bring that founding energy I wrote about last week.

Helen Maynard, News Editor
Helen Maynard, News Editor

Helen, a longtime journalist at News 5 in Cleveland and ABC News, brings knowledge of television news and community reporting to the Signal Cleveland newsroom. An alum of the University of Michigan’s Knight-Wallace Fellowship, Helen has been thinking for years about innovative ways to center news on community interests.

She recognized early on in her career that declining diversity in newsrooms was impacting how city neighborhoods were covered. To nurture more neighborhood-based writers, she facilitates a journalism training class with the community-based news outlet The Cleveland Observer several times each year. Helen is also on the Cleveland Observer’s steering committee.

“By talking with people in neighborhoods, by attending street fairs, community meetings, garage sales, all reporters can make connections and build trust,” Helen said. “Something simple like grocery shopping in a neighborhood different from where you work or live, and talking with people there, can help you build contacts and develop a broader point of view.”

Helen Maynard, News Editor
April Urban, Director of Research and Impact
April Urban, Director of Research and Impact

April has a passion for weaving together data and community voices. Her career highlights include research into the rental-housing market in Cleveland to inform policy change and program development and co-founding Data Days Cleveland (happening today at Cleveland Public Library’s main branch!) to help amplify the value of data. She has more than 10 years of experience as a researcher with the Center on Poverty and Community Development at Case Western Reserve University and most recently worked at the Cleveland Metropolitan School District managing projects focused on elevating parent voices.

As Signal Cleveland’s director of research and impact, April will focus on establishing metrics for how we evaluate our work. She also will  work with data so it is publicly accessible on our website and can inform our reporting. ThisAbbey Marshall, Service Journalism Reporter role is unique for a newsroom and essential to the ways in which we want to distinguish our work and hold ourselves accountable to reaching our goals.

Abbey Marshall, Service Journalism Reporter
Abbey Marshall, Service Journalism Reporter

Abbey joins us from the Akron Beacon Journal/USA Today Network, where she has been a Report for America corps member. Most recently, she covered the City of Akron and local government, writing about topics that included abortion access, the police killing of Jayland Walker and subsequent protests, housing issues and more.

A Cincinnati native and Ohio University graduate, Abbey is thrilled to continue her work in Northeast Ohio. She looks forward to innovative storytelling and deep-rooted community reporting. As Signal Cleveland’s service journalism reporter, Abbey will be focused on writing explainers and guides that help Greater Clevelanders navigate and understand systems such as government, schools and healthcare that we encounter every day. 

Helen, April and Abbey will officially join the newsroom over the coming weeks. 

Update from the newsroom

We have closed all of the applications for our editorial positions. We continue to meet with candidates for the community reporter role, but we have hired for all of the other open news roles.

Have you tapped into Cleveland Documenters? It is a community of Greater Clevelanders trained and paid $16 an hour to take notes at or live tweet from local public meetings. Find their work here. Cleveland Documenters are also a part of Signal Cleveland. If you haven’t connected with Documenters’ work yet, you’ll see it more and more. Developed by our partners at City Bureau in Chicago, Documenters is becoming a national network for grass-roots, participatory media, and it is growing across the country. We’re proud to be part of the network, and we’re excited to be building the Signal Cleveland newsroom around the work Cleveland Documenters do every day.

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Have a question or want to make suggestions for the newsroom? I’m listening. Just hit reply. You can also call or text 216-220-9398.

Editor-in-Chief (she/her)
Lila is the founding editor-in-chief of Signal Cleveland, the Ohio Local News Initiative's Cleveland newsroom. Lila, who has experience in community building and journalism, led the launch of Cleveland Documenters in 2020. Formerly associate director at Neighborhood Connections, a Cleveland-based organization that has done groundbreaking work building community networks, Lila has been a newspaper reporter, a student-journalism advisor and a freelance news producer. Born and raised on the southeast side of Cleveland, Lila is a first-generation college graduate with degrees from Columbia University.