The Mercury's staff

The Virginia Mercury is an independent, nonprofit online news organization covering state government and policy. From the push to remove Confederate statues to big shifts in health care and energy policy, the Old Dominion is changing. The Mercury aims to bring a fresh perspective to coverage of the state’s biggest issues.

The news outlet, which will also feature original and guest commentary on a range of topics, will be staffed full-time by four veteran Virginia newspaper journalists.

The Mercury is funded by the Hopewell Fund, a 501(c)(3) public charity that specializes in helping donors, social entrepreneurs, and other changemakers quickly launch new, innovative projects. The Mercury retains full editorial independence.

STAFF

Editor-in-Chief
All posts by Robert Zullo

Robert has spent 13 years as a reporter and editor at weekly and daily newspapers, beginning at Worrall Community Newspapers in Union, N.J., where he was a staff writer and managing editor. He spent five years in south Louisiana covering hurricanes, oil spills and Good Friday crawfish boils as a reporter and city editor for the The Courier and the Daily Comet newspapers in Houma and Thibodaux. He covered Richmond city hall for the Richmond Times-Dispatch from 2012 to 2013 and worked as a general assignment and city hall reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from 2013 to 2016. He returned to Richmond two years ago to cover energy, environment and transportation for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. He grew up in Miami, Fla., and central New Jersey. A former armored car guard and a graduate of the College of William and Mary, he has received numerous first-place awards for editorial, feature and column writing as well as breaking news coverage and investigative reporting.

Reporter
All posts by Katie O'Connor

Katie, a Manassas native, has covered health care, commercial real estate, law, agriculture and tourism for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Richmond BizSense and the Northern Virginia Daily. Last year, she was named an Association of Health Care Journalists Regional Health Journalism Fellow, a program to aid journalists in making national health stories local and using data in their reporting. She is a graduate of the College of William and Mary, where she was executive editor of The Flat Hat, the college paper, and editor-in-chief of The Gallery, the college’s literary magazine.

Reporter
All posts by Ned Oliver

Ned, a Lexington native, has a decade’s worth of experience in journalism, beginning at The News-Gazette in Lexington, and including stints at the Berkshire Eagle, in Berkshire County, Mass., and the Times-Dispatch and Style Weekly in Richmond. He also has the awards to show for it, including taking a pair of first-place honors at the Virginia Press Association awards earlier this year for investigative reporting and feature writing. He is a graduate of Bard College at Simon’s Rock, in Great Barrington, Mass.

Reporter
All posts by Mechelle Hankerson

Mechelle, born and raised in Virginia Beach, is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in mass communications and a concentration in print journalism. She covered the General Assembly for the university’s Capital News Service and was among 12 student journalists in swing states selected by the Washington Post to cover the 2012 presidential election. For the past five years, she has covered local government, crime, housing, infrastructure and other issues at the Raleigh News & Observer and The Virginian-Pilot, where she most recently covered the state’s biggest city, Virginia Beach.