WATERBURY, CT – November 3, 2020: Behind-the-scenes with reporter Ali Oshinskie during CPTV’s live coverage of election night. (Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public)
Report for America unveils more than sixty new newsroom partners—including a doubling of Black and Hispanic owned media—and opens the application window for new reporters
By SAM KILLE, Report for America
Report for America today announced the selection of 64 new local news organizations as host newsroom partners, enabling the national service program to place more than 300 journalists in the field next year.
The program also opened the application window for reporters to apply as corps members in 2021. Information about how to apply can be found here.
Report for America’s support is adding more than 100 new reporting positions and expanding to more than 200 newsrooms across the country, at a time when the impact of the pandemic has decimated local news economically. The newly-selected newsrooms and beats include:
- Southwest Times Record—Food insecurity around Fort Smith, Ark.
- St. Louis American/Type Investigations—African-American businesses in the St. Louis area
- WFYI Public Media—Criminal justice in central Indiana
- Granite State News Collaborative—Statehouse coverage for 20 local newsrooms
- Bozeman Daily Chronicle—Photographer covering rural Montana
- Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting—Agribusiness and workers’ status in Illinois
- Tampa Bay Times—Mental health and health care
- WBHM—Education in Birmingham, Ala.
- Atlanta Journal Constitution—Asian and Latino communities in the Atlanta area
- Wausau Pilot & Review—Hmong and other immigrants in Marathon County, Wis.
- California News Deserts & Trust Initiative—5 newsrooms, 2 foundations, fielding reporters in Butte, Kern, Madera, North Siskiyou, San Bernardino, Tulare, Yolo and Yuba counties
The selections were made mostly on the basis of which newsrooms defined the most compelling gaps in coverage and plans to deploy corps members well. But the bottom-up approach did produce certain new patterns.
- Report for America doubled the number of host newsrooms owned by people of color
- The program supported more locally-owned for-profit news organizations than news organizations owned by private equity firms or hedge funds
- Half of the newsrooms are nonprofits
- More than one third of the beats are covering communities of color, reflecting a surge in demand from newsrooms to address previously neglected beats
“With the local news system shrinking, it’s important that we both put more and more reporters in the field—and that we help newsrooms that are working toward becoming more sustainable, and more grounded in the community,” said Steven Waldman, president and co-founder of Report for America. “It’s particularly gratifying that newsrooms have, en masse, decided that they want to do better coverage of communities of color and rural areas.”
Those chosen include daily and weekly newspapers, digital-only news outlets, radio and television stations. They all offer exciting opportunities for prospective corps members, to include dozens of open beats.
Report for America, which is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, is a two-year program (with an option for three) that delivers a wide-range of benefits to its corps members. Beyond paying up to half of the journalists’ salaries, it provides ongoing training and mentorship by leading journalists, peer networking, and memberships to select professional organizations.
Applications are being accepted now until Jan. 31. Corps members will be selected from a highly-competitive, national competition. Last year, more than 1,800 applications were received. Those hired become employees of their respective newsrooms and will begin their employment June 1, 2021.
“Report for America provides a unique opportunity for journalists to really sink their teeth into local, issue-oriented reporting that is missing from so many newsrooms today,” said Norman Parish, recruitment director, Report for America. “Beyond talented reporters and photojournalists, we are looking for individuals who see journalism as a public service and want to make a difference within their communities.”
Report for America prioritizes a diverse corps and is working with a number of professional organizations and college journalism programs to help ensure that newsrooms reflect the audiences they serve, added Parish. To help connect corps members to the community, they are required to do a service project, which often includes engaging middle or high school students in journalism related activities.
While Report for America is geared toward emerging journalists, it is also piloting a small “experienced corps” for 2021, with positions available for mid- to late-career journalists with eight or more years’ experience.
Report for America, which was launched by The GroundTruth Project in the fall of 2017, looks to place 1,000 journalists into local newsrooms by 2024. It is supported in its efforts by a number of philanthropic leaders, including the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Facebook Journalism Project, Natasha and Dirk Ziff, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, Craig Newmark Philanthropies, the Lumina Foundation, the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Heising-Simons Foundation, the Henry L. Kimelman Foundation, the Tow Foundation, the Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation and more.
“There is a growing awareness that the crisis in local journalism has everything to do with the crisis in our democracy; but we believe trusted, local journalism breaks down barriers and brings people together. Supporting local news through Report for America is part of the way forward, a way to restore civic engagement and respectful dialogue across the divides in our country,” said Charles Sennott, GroundTruth chief executive officer and co-founder of Report for America. “We can’t wait to work with our newsroom partners and our reporting corps to restore journalism from the ground up.”
To learn more about Report for America and its mission to strengthen our communities and our democracy through local journalism that is truthful, fearless, fair and smart, visit www.reportforamerica.org.
About Report for America
Report for America is a national service program that places talented emerging journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered topics and communities. Launched in 2017 and donor-financed, Report for America is creating a new, sustainable system that provides Americans with the information they need to improve their communities, hold powerful institutions accountable, and rebuild trust in the media. Report for America is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, an award-winning nonprofit media organization with an established track record of training and supporting teams of emerging journalists around the world and in the US. Report for America is a MacArthur Foundation 100&Change finalist, a global competition for a single $100 million grant.