This Q&A first appeared in Mandy Hofmockel’s Journalism Jobs newsletter. Report for America is currently accepting applications for more than 150 open positions across the U.S. and its territories. Applications close Jan. 31, so apply today!
A big thank you goes out to Kim Kleman, Senior Vice President at Report for America, for her thoughtful answers to a few questions about what it’s like to participate in RFA, which states it’s “looking for talented, ethical, insanely hard-working, gutsy, open-minded, service-oriented journalists to inform communities and hold powerful institutions accountable.”
What advice would you share with those who aspire to be a Report for America corps member?
We’re interested in working with journalists who are passionate about our mission, which is to improve local news by reporting on under-covered issues and communities. The year, we have more than 150 open positions in every state plus the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and Puerto Rico, on myriad beats, so there’s plenty to choose from.
Ours is a two-year program (with an optional third year), so we expect you to commit to our program for that amount of time. We prefer applicants who have had at least a few years of local news experience, though we definitely consider recent graduates, especially if they have helped lead their college paper and have local news internships.
How can candidates make their applications stand out?
We want to match applicants with local newsrooms where they’re going to grow and thrive. So we encourage applicants not to be shy about telling us their preferences. If you really want to work in audio in the South, don’t say you’ll work anywhere in any medium. In short, we like some direction from the applicant.
Also, please fully answer the questions we ask and proofread your application. Given the number of applications we receive, fewer than 1 in 10 journalists who apply will land positions with Report for America. Don’t make yours an easy cut with incomplete answers and lots of misspellings.
One more thing: Every applicant needs two references. If we don’t receive them by the Jan. 31 deadline, your application won’t move forward.
What can journalists expect to learn? How will they be supported?
Report for America is the best ticket in town for journalists. A big goal of ours is to turn good local reporters into great local reporters. To that end, we offer more than 70 programs and trainings a year—beat-specific training such as how to find red-flags in a city budget, Q&A sessions with rock-star, prize winning reporters, and situational trainings, including how to cover a protest or how to practice self-care in these times.
We pair every journalist with an RFA regional manager, your point person from our organization, and also with a national mentor. Come June our corps will be 325 strong. It’s an incredible network of journalists who are as passionate about the profession as you are, and form deep professional and personal bonds.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Report for America is open to reporters and photojournalists of all experience levels. Most of our corps are “emerging” journalists with a few years’ experience, but others have eight or more years’ experience. Some newsrooms (noted on our website) say they’re looking for experienced journalists to report and also to edit and coach other reporters.
Questions? Send them to [email protected] and we’ll reply soonest. Thanks!
See a selection of RFA openings for 2022 below and the full list here.