The crisis in local journalism – a.k.a. the crisis in local democracy, a.k.a. why you can’t find out if your water is polluted or your mayor is corrupt – begs for a dramatic response. Today, Report for America is issuing a call to service to emerging journalists to help provide that dramatic response.
Report for America, a national service program for journalists, has a simple but ambitious mission: to serve communities by strengthening local reporting. We recruit talented emerging journalists and place them in innovative local newsrooms.
We’ve got two major announcements:
- After an intense competition, Report for America has selected nine inspiring news organizations to host Report for America corps members. They’re all top-notch local newsrooms with exciting plans for how to use a corps member to tackle crucially important under-covered communities or topics.
- We are opening the application process for prospective corps members. More info here.
The news organizations include a mix of newspapers that are trying exciting new approaches (the Dallas Morning News, the Victoria Advocate, the Macon Telegraph and the Chicago Sun-Times), digital-native startups (MississippiToday.com, TheIncline.com, BillyPenn.com), public TV and radio stations (KRWG in Las Cruces, New Mexico and Mississippi Public Broadcasting) and journalism schools (the Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State).
They are targeting the RFA corps members at critical needs – like covering poverty in Southeast New Mexico or the state legislature in Pennsylvania.
Interested in helping to save local democracy through great reporting? We’re looking for emerging journalists with great skills and a deep spirit of public service. More about what we’re looking for here.
These nine organizations join three pilot programs that began earlier in the year in Appalachia: the Charleston Gazette-Mail, the Lexington Herald-Leader and West Virginia Public Broadcasting. By the way, our first three corps members are crushing it.
The Report for America model is unique in several ways. The funding model splits the burden three ways, with half the salary of the new reporter picked up by Report for America and the other half paid by the local news organization and local philanthropy.
It’s also unusual because the corps members will be doing direct community service in addition to their public service reporting – working with local high schools to create student run websites or other projects related to story telling or media.
The preliminary funding comes from Google News Lab, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, the Select Equity Group Foundation, the Galloway Family Fund and others. Report for America is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, a non-profit news organization that trains young journalists to cover important stories.