Reuters’ Kat Stafford encourages Report for America grads: ‘We need you in this work’

Report for America corps members, family, friends and staff came together virtually last night to celebrate the graduation of more than 100 journalists from the national service program, ahead of the fourth annual Local News Awards.

The new graduates have all completed at least one year of service with Report America with many completing two to three years. The majority intend to stay in local news, with some planning to remain in their current newsrooms.

Kat Stafford, the global race and justice editor at Reuters, and a leading voice on representation and equity within the news industry, delivered the commencement address. She spoke about the critical importance of reporting on difficult issues of race and inequality. Asking attendees to reflect on their role in newsrooms, Stafford asked: “How do you highlight that reality for your newsrooms and readers at a time when many don’t want to face that uncomfortable truth?”

“What opportunities have you created for the journalists of color, LGBTQ plus
journalists, women, young journalists and those from other underrepresented communities
in your newsrooms?

“Who makes the decisions of what gets covered, and whose voices and perspectives are amplified in the newsroom? As stories reflect the nation or the community you’re tasked with covering? Do you listen to the reporters who are on the ground and doing the hard work of repairing the trust?”

Stafford joined Reuters from the Associated Press, where she was national investigative writer and global investigations correspondent covering structural racism and inequality. Previously, she was an investigative reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Her reporting there prompted changes in city legislation, policy changes, congressional reviews, and federal and state investigations. She is a 2021-22 University of Knight Wallace Fellowship alumni, a 2019 Ida B. Wells Investigative Fellow. Stafford also received the Society of Professional Journalists 2017 Young Journalist of the year award from the organization’s Detroit chapter.

Stafford encouraged Report for America corps members to carry on their commitment to serving local communities wherever their career pathways end.

“Know that your voice, your perspective, your dreams matter. We need you in this work. You will carry the baton forward and know that those stories that you’ve written, they really matter to someone. Your work has made someone feel seen.”

Report for America’s executive director, Kim Kleman, underscored the critical importance of the corps members’ work over their past years.

“[Corps members] show up in places that have been starved of local news. By embedding themselves in communities with their thoughtful reporting and with their youth focused service projects, they’re helping to promote trust between newsrooms and the community and and also the value of journalists and journalism.”

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 across the United States and its territories. By creating a new, sustainable model for journalism, Report for America provides people with the information they need to improve their communities, hold powerful institutions accountable, and restore trust in the media. Report for America is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, an award-winning nonprofit journalism organization dedicated to rebuilding journalism from the ground up.