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Support Our State College Bureau

To combat the continuing loss of local news in Pennsylvania, Spotlight PA launched its first pilot regional bureau based in State College and covering north-central Pennsylvania. We hope this bureau will serve as a model for how to address the crisis in local news in communities across the state. As part of this initiative, Spotlight PA hired a team of journalists dedicated to the region, which represents a sizable and significant infusion of talent relative to the number of current reporters.

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Every Thursday, you’ll get top news and notes for North-Central PA by Spotlight PA’s State College regional bureau.

A Novel Approach to Reinvigorating Local News

Sunsrise over State College, PA
Abby Drey / Centre Daily Times
Consistent with Spotlight PA’s member-funded, public-service mission, all of this high-quality journalism is distributed at no cost to our media partners — led by the Centre Daily Times — and to the public through spotlightpa.org.

Our team of journalists has the time, resources, and mandate to dig deep into the issues of the region. You can expect reporting on everything from the challenges facing rural communities to Penn State to local accountability issues like how our tax dollars are spent and how our towns are run. All of Spotlight PA’s reporting is conducted through an equity and accountability lens, examining issues that are causing harm and proposing solutions.

The team is employed by Spotlight PA and receives organizational support from the statewide newsroom, including management and editing — thus avoiding the significant start-up costs associated with launching a brand-new, nonprofit news outlet. The bureau publishes via Spotlight PA’s extensive distribution network, elevating issues of regional importance to a statewide audience, while also fostering mutual understanding among all Pennsylvanians.


We estimate this new bureau will cost approximately $500,000 a year to sustain at its proposed size, and its future will depend on local support from the community. You can support this special effort by clicking here, or to learn more about getting involved, please contact Spotlight PA Director of Individual and Corporate Giving Michelle Mertz at michelle@spotlightpa.org.

We’re so grateful to our founding individual donors for supporting this effort (see our State College bureau donor list below).

This expansion has also been made possible by a $1 million grant from the American Journalism Project, which is focused on enhancing Spotlight PA’s business and operations capacity to enable it to expand its journalism locally.

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  • Photo of Wyatt Massey

    Wyatt Massey

    Investigative Reporter

    Massey investigates how Penn State University operates, including its influence in the region and state. The university receives more than $300 million in funding from the state but evades most transparency measures under Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know Law. Massey scrutinizes the main University Park campus as well as the university’s 19 additional branch campuses.

    A native of rural Wisconsin, Massey previously covered faith and religion for the Chattanooga Times Free Press in Southeast Tennessee.

  • Photo of Marley Parish

    Marley Parish

    Rural Affairs Reporter

    Marley Parish is the rural affairs reporter of Spotlight PA’s State College regional bureau.

    Before joining Spotlight PA, she covered the state Senate for the Pennsylvania Capital-Star, reporting on education, health, and elections. Previously, Marley was a community reporter for the Centre Daily Times, covering education, local government, and community issues.

    She has received statewide recognition for her coverage of the 2020 post-election review conducted by Senate Republicans and how the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade could affect statewide access to reproductive care.

  • Photo of Sarah Rafacz

    Sarah Rafacz

    State College Editor

    Sarah Rafacz is the editor of Spotlight PA’s State College bureau. Before joining Spotlight PA to help launch its first regional bureau, she was the editor of State College Magazine. Prior to that, Rafacz was a reporter at the Centre Daily Times, covering Penn State, local government and development. Rafacz, a native of Centre County, has bachelor’s degrees in journalism and English from Penn State.
  • Photo of Min Xian

    Min Xian

    Local Accountability Reporter

    Central and northern Pennsylvania is home to vast natural beauty, historic towns with changing economies, and a diverse mix of social-political values. Xian reports on how local governments are run and how public dollars are spent, with a focus on how public and private forces shape ordinary life in this region.

    Before joining Spotlight PA, Xian covered local government and rural issues for the region’s NPR affiliate, WPSU. Originally from southern China, she has called State College home since 2013.

State College Bureau Donors

Spotlight PA's State College Bureau (Donations of $1,000 and above)

  • Tony Barbieri
  • R Thomas Berner
  • Mimi Barash Coppersmith
  • Vincent Crespi
  • John and Janet Dillon
  • Ronald Filippelli
  • David Gray
  • Sharon and Jeff Hyde
  • Richard and Sally Kalin
  • Laura and Peter Kemper
  • Donna Queeney and Nicholas Kerlin
  • The Lenfest Institute for Journalism
  • David Martens
  • John Nichols
  • Katie O'Toole
  • Nancy Chiswick and Arthur Patterson
  • Kathleen Pavelko
  • Mary Prunty
  • Report for America
  • Gary Schell
  • Susan F. and Ron Smith
  • Daniel and Linda Trevino

Spotlight PA's State College Bureau (Donations below $1,000)


    • Catherine S Alloway
    • Linda Arble
    • Leslie Schlessinger and Joycellen Auritt


    • Brian Beer
    • Michael Berkman
    • Steve Blake
    • Janet Blankenhorn
    • Lisa Borghesi
    • Carol Ann Brady
    • Susan Brantley
    • Jennifer Brock
    • Stephen Brunner


    • James Casey
    • Laura Clifton
    • Patricia Cossick
    • Billie Coyne


    • Candace Dannaker
    • Michael Desmond
    • Carolyn Donaldson
    • Helene Dow
    • Charles DuBois
    • Dan Duffy
    • Robert DuPlessis


    • Melissa Egbertson
    • James Eisenstein
    • William Ewing
    • Jubalyn ExWilliams


    • Elizabeth Foster


    • David Gackenbach
    • Mitch Gerstein
    • Carol Gillespie
    • Jennifer Glick
    • Richard Gordon
    • John Graybill
    • Elizabeth Green
    • Louise Grim
    • Rebekah Grmela
    • Cari Gustafson


    • Etta Habegger
    • Thomas and Barbara Hale
    • Margaret Hambrick
    • Marie Hardin
    • William Hartman
    • Ellen Harvey
    • Molly Hasselman-Gnan
    • Judith Heberling
    • Ellen & Jim Hermann
    • Cynthia Nixon-Hudson and Randolph Hudson
    • Paul Hughes
    • Eric Husted


    • Clinton Ibarra


    • Bruce Jankura
    • Ryan Jones


    • Marilyn Keat
    • Rhonda and Peter Keller
    • Paul Kellermann
    • Michael Kiernan
    • Lynn Kipp
    • Janet Koch
    • Ann Koziar
    • Stephen Krupa
    • Christian Kurpiel-Wakamiya
    • James Kvitkovich


    • Michael Lee
    • Dale Lenox
    • Benson and Christine Lichtig
    • John Lopatka


    • Robert Maney
    • Michele Marchetti
    • Martina Martin
    • Claudia McGill
    • Maryann McNally
    • Allen Mengel
    • Laura and Mark Morrisson
    • Jean Morrow
    • Hugh Mose
    • Tracy Mullen
    • Gary Muzzelo


    • James Newcomer
    • Eric Norenberg


    • Elaine Olson
    • Carol ONeill


    • Robert and Ann Pangborn
    • Lynn Petnick
    • Jennifer Pollock
    • Josh Portney
    • Gail Preuninger
    • Louis Prevost
    • Todd Price


    • Donna Quadri


    • Paula Ralph
    • Ronald Ranieri
    • William Rathfon
    • Jillian Rodgers
    • Craig Rose
    • Richard Ross


    • Benedict Saia
    • Sue Sargo
    • Steven Sattinger
    • Barb Saulsbury
    • Thomas Schmoyer
    • Michael J Schroeder
    • Geraldine Sealey
    • Stephen Seidman
    • Barbara Sherlock
    • Frances Sherr
    • Jennifer Sibum
    • Kent Simendinger
    • Douglas Sivers
    • Patricia Slagle
    • Stephen Snell
    • Jackie Sobel
    • Aaron Songer
    • Graham Spanier
    • Jenna Spinelle
    • Brian Strahl


    • Lynn Thomas
    • Karen Toth


    • Christina VandePol
    • Tanner Vea
    • Susan Venegoni
    • Richard Villastrigo


    • Kathleen Weidner
    • David Whiteman
    • Marty Wilder
    • Ellen Wilson
    • Stephen Wistar
    • Deborah Wolfe


    • Mina Yindra
    • Donald Young


    • Barbara Ziff
    • Charlotte Zmyslo
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