Megan Sayles (Courtesy Photo)

By Rev. Dorothy Boulware
AFRO Managing Editor

The AFRO is thrilled to welcome Megan Sayles, a Report for America journalist, who will come on board, June 1, to cover the business beat. She’s graduating in May from the University of Maryland with dual undergraduate degrees in multi platform journalism and government and politics. Additionally, she’s had varied experience in the field from being copy editor to staff writer, and she’s eager to be a member of the Black Press.

“Tightened budget belts have made scarce the “beat” writers of past decades, those who could immerse themselves in every aspect of the community of commerce and enterprise, of large corporations as well as smaller cottage industries,” said Dr. Frances “Toni” Murphy Draper, AFRO Publisher and CEO.

“It is exciting to have that dedicated person, equipped with the best of technology and social media, to chronicle the rebuilding of businesses that have suffered the blow of the pandemic, while honoring those who have stood the test of time and offered their support.

On April 27, Report for America announced the placements of some 300 journalists for its 2021 reporting corps. The cohort, which includes a number of corps members returning for a second or third year, will join the more than 200 local news organizations across 49 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and Guam.

The corps is diverse—with 135 journalists of color—at 45%, more than double the percentage found in the majority of America’s newsrooms. By better reflecting their communities, Report for America’s partner newsrooms will be better positioned to gain the trust of their audiences, amidst the national reckoning on race.

These reporting positions come at a critical moment, when many local newsrooms are closing—leaving a vacuum of trusted, accurate information that is being filled by partisan news sites and online disinformation that threaten our democracy.

“The crisis in our democracy, disinformation and polarization, is in many ways a result of the collapse of local news,” said Steven Waldman, co-founder and president of Report for America. “We have a unique opportunity to reverse this decline by filling newsrooms with talented journalists who not only view journalism as a public service, but who can make trusted connections with the communities they serve.”

Report for America is a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities. It is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, a nonprofit journalism organization.