The Trace announced on June 2 that deputy editor Tali Woodward has been promoted to editor in chief. She takes the helm of a growing nonprofit newsroom with the only team of journalists dedicated to reporting on gun violence in the United States. 

As The Trace was first to document, cities across the country have recorded a historic surge in shootings since early 2020, heightening the need for journalism that improves understanding of gun violence, serves affected communities, brings attention to potential solutions, and creates accountability.  

“Our mission has never been more urgent, and we’re extraordinarily fortunate to have Tali leading our coverage,” said managing director James Burnett. “I’m excited to see how she builds on everything she’s already accomplished here.” 

Woodward joined The Trace in September 2018 from Columbia Journalism School, where she directed the Master of Arts Program, overseeing its curriculum and guiding students through ambitious reporting projects. At The Trace, she has shepherded the outlet’s breakthrough investigation of self-enrichment and deception by executives of the National Rifle Association, which sparked an ongoing probe by the attorney general of New York, and developed indelible narrative features on the drivers and aftershocks of shootings. She has also launched a profile series exploring the many ways that gun ownership and gun violence shape American lives, and produced an audio documentary on school lockdown drills, extending The Trace’s award-winning journalism to new audiences and mediums.

“You can tell an article Tali has edited by its bones. She has a rare talent for making sure stories are both rock-solid and somehow flow effortlessly for the reader,” Burnett said. “She’s also an incredibly thoughtful and supportive manager who helps people find their rhythm and do their best work. That’s been true as well for The Trace as a whole — Tali makes us better.” 

Earlier in her career, Woodward was a reporter for the San Francisco Bay Guardian and freelanced for magazines including National Geographic and Newsweek, bringing to her work the combination of hard-nosed reporting and engrossing storytelling that have continued to distinguish her tenure at The Trace. As editor in chief, Woodward will lead a team of 18 editors and reporters and work closely with Burnett, The Trace’s founding editor, who directs the organization’s overall strategy and fundraising through his position as The Trace’s top executive.

While continuing its high-impact investigative, accountability, and solutions journalism, The Trace is planning an expansion of its local reporting and community engagement in 2021, including coverage of police violence and law enforcement failures, the structural inequalities that foster cycles of violence, and the resilience of residents working to bring greater safety to underserved neighborhoods.

“It’s an honor to get to work every day with an ambitious team of journalists determined to give gun violence the kind of coverage it needs,” said Woodward. “We’re proud of the work we’ve produced, but there is so much more reporting to be done on this critical issue.” 

Launched in 2015, The Trace has grown from a seven-person startup into an established news outlet whose reporting is improving understanding of gun violence and increasing accountability for public officials and special interests whose actions, agendas, or underperformance obstructs progress toward safe and just communities for all. Articles by The Trace have been co-published with more than 180 media partners and cited more than 8,000 times by other journalists, academics, and policymakers. Industry recognition for The Trace’s journalism includes Best Nonprofit News Source from New York University’s American Journalism Online Awards (2021), the Best Practices Award from the National Association of Black Journalists (2020), and General Excellence honors from the Online Journalism Awards (2019). Four of its writers have been shortlisted for the Livingston Awards for Young Journalists.

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