Wendi C. Thomas
Founding Editor and Publisher, MLK50: Justice Through Journalism
Thomas is a keynote speaker at the 25th ISOJ, happening from April 12 – 13, 2024, both online and in person at the University of Texas at Austin.
Wendi C. Thomas is the founding editor and publisher of MLK50: Justice Through Journalism, an award-winning nonprofit newsroom focused on poverty, power, and policy. Launched in 2017 with freelancers and $3,000, MLK50 has grown to a 12-person organization that has made a measurable, tangible impact in the lives of working class Memphians. Previously, Thomas was metro columnist and assistant managing editor at The Commercial Appeal. She was also an editor or reporter at The Charlotte Observer, The Tennessean, and The Indianapolis Star. Thomas was a 2016 fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. As part of ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network, she investigated a nonprofit hospital’s aggressive debt collection practices, which led the hospital to erase nearly $12 million in hospital debt for more than 5,300 defendants. The investigation earned her the 2020 Selden Ring Award, a first place tie in the Investigative Reporters & Editors 2019 award, and a 2020 Gerald Loeb Award, among other honors. Thomas is the 2023 winner of the I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence and the 2022 recipient of the Freedom of the Press Local Champion Award from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.