Managing Editor

Melissa Troutman is a Public Herald co-founder. She has experience as a traditional print and multimedia journalist and has a passion for photography, teaching, songwriting, and dance.

As Managing Editor for Public Herald, Melissa strives to unearth, or sometimes dust off and reorganize, stories that are valuable to all readers. You can email her at Follow on twitter: @melissat22

$35K Awarded To Public Herald To Tour Fracking Documentary Across U.S.

Journalists and Public Herald co-founders Joshua Pribanic and Melissa Troutman high-five in celebration of their INNovation Fund award to tour their investigative documentary Triple Divide across the country.  photo: Pittsburgh Continental Philosophy Network

PENNSYLVANIA — Investigative news nonprofit Public Herald has won $35,000 to tour its investigative documentary Triple Divide about fracking in the Marcellus Shale across the United States. Public Herald is one of eight winners in the first round […]

Facts Behind The Daily Show’s Fracking Video

The Daily Show segment on fracking was shot at the home of Christine and Cory Pepper, who have water problems and live next to a fracked well that’s caused documented drinking water well problems on neighbors’ properties. Carol French, another Bradford Co. resident with water contamination, is looking over her left shoulder as comedian Aasif Mandvi reads his notes.

Public Herald & The Daily Show Impacted residents of the most heavily drilled and fracked county in the largest shale gas extraction zone in the United States – the Marcellus Shale – appeared in a segment of The […]

DEP Manipulates Law On Complaint, Leaves Family Without Water

Christine Pepper's sons watch as dirty water drips from the faucet.  photo: jbpribanic

It’s day one and Christine Pepper’s family has no water. There’s no water for the family to drink, to shower, or wash their clothes so they’re making calls to inlaws and saving single gallon plastic jugs. It’s day one, and the Pepper family has 45 days until they know what’s happened. It started when Christine splashed water on her face from the kitchen faucet and a burning sensation shot through her skin. “It felt like my face was on fire for 20 minutes,” she said. Later red bumps developed. Not shortly after there was no water at all. The Pepper's spring-fed well, which had produced water for more than 50 years, went completely dry. “I’m not saying we’ve never had low water," explains Christine’s husband Corey, "but it always comes right back, but it’s stayed dry for two weeks. And... I’ve never seen it! I’m 42, I’ve lived here 42 years, and my Dad was 18 when he bought this house.”

Meet Our New Crush, ‘Mission & State’

Front page January 27, 2014, Mission & State online.

We at Public Herald get crushes kind of often. Our latest one is on Mission & State, a new in-depth journalism project in Santa Barbara, California. Like so many other great connections, we discovered M&S because of fracking. Yes, thanks to that highly controversial and dangerous drilling process formerly known as horizontal slickwater hydraulic fracturing, we’ve met some really amazing people. Fracking is only one part of Mission & State’s coverage of news in and around Santa Barbara, which finds itself atop the oil and gas rich Monterey Shale, a bedrock formation with average depths of over 11,000 feet underground according to National Geographic. Check out Mission & State’s coverage of the ‘urchin and caviar’ politics surrounding the fracking debate in California.

New York Next On National Tour Of New Fracking Documentary


Triple Divide, a fracking documentary the Scranton Times Leader called “a bombshell that could reverberate across the state,” is headed to New York for a month of screenings and discussion with the journalists who created it, Melissa Troutman and Joshua Pribanic, visiting towns from western New York to the Big Apple. New York is the third leg of the documentary’s national tour across shale regions of the United States and will be at the Wellsville Creative Arts Center on January 24th at 8:00 p.m. Wellsville is directly downstream from the documentary’s namesake, the triple continental divide in Potter County, Pa. where the Genesee River is born. It’s also where the Allegheny River in with New York. Reviews of Triple Divide call it the only documentary on the controversial subject of fracking capable of speaking to all sides. “Even if you have differences, you have to find common ground to speak about this,” says a Pennsylvania organic dairy farmer in the film.

New Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Map Still Incomplete

Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 3.23.44 AM

What was once a laborious, mishandled process for public access to information about oil and gas wells in Pennsylvania still is... but in the past several years it’s improved ever since unconventional shale drilling (a.k.a. fracking) hit the Keystone State like a rototiller on steroids. And despite a sleek new mapping tool recently launched by Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the real secret in the sauce — fracking sauce that is — is still as elusive as ever. frac_focus_depState and federal regulations continue to allow drillers to keep their fracking mixtures “trade secrets” while also permitting them to pump the poisons into the ground. Sure, some companies report some of the chemicals they use on “Frac Frocus” (Frac Focus) which DEP links to under the Resources tab of its data tool, but what's a recipe without all the ingredients? DEP doesn’t control the laws leaders write, it can only enforce them — or not. (For those details see “File Review” below.) So no fracking chemical listings for the well in your backyard, kids. But at least DEP’s Oil and Gas Mapping system does have the state’s Exceptional Value (EV) and High Quality (HQ) waterways as an optional data layer (Check the link for more about drilling waste burial near these sensitive water supplies).

New Aerial Video of Alabama Oil Spill Exposes Cleanup Problems


Every year, we hear about the latest oil spills, pipeline explosions and pollution…but we rarely see how people and environment are impacted over time. Public Herald is embarking on a new series “American Albatross” to investigate the environmental […]

After Antibiotics: How Can Society Cope With Drug-Resistant Disease?

Micrograph of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA, brown) surrounded by cellular debris. MRSA resists treatment with many antibiotics. Photo credit: NIAID (Wikimedia Commons)

Imagining the Post-Antibiotics Future After 85 years, antibiotics are growing impotent. So what will medicine, agriculture and everyday life look like if we lose these drugs entirely? by Maryn McKenna for Food & Environment Reporting Network A few years […]

Dark Money: IRS Announces Guidelines For Political Spending

Photo by Pen Waggener, Wikimedia Commons.

The IRS Moves to Limit Dark Money – But Enforcement Still a Question By Kim Barker for ProPublica  The IRS and Treasury Department announced proposed guidelines clarifying the definition of political activities for social welfare nonprofits Tuesday afternoon, a move […]

Documentary Tours Pennsylvania, Uncovers Fracking Secrets

Files from Public Herald's documentary Triple Divide which focusses on evidence to tell the story about fracking in Pennsylvania. photo: jbpribanic

Hot of the press in most of rural Pennsylvania are promises on economic opportunity from fracking, but Triple Divide a new documentary by filmmakers and journalists Joshua Pribanic and Melissa Troutman questions its impacts. The film covers a two-year analysis of fracking by investigative news nonprofit Public Herald and is touring across the Commonwealth this November. “People can expect to witness a side of fracking they’ve never seen before by watching Triple Divide,” said Pribanic. The film is the first of its kind to reveal illegal burials of potentially radioactive waste in Exceptional Value Watersheds. It highlights new concepts regarding an issue dubbed “The Pressure Bulb” referring to the unregulated force needed to frack a well, and uncovers a ‘predrill scandal’ where the industry is allowed to dismiss its own science.