Report for America announces winning news outlets participating in local journalism program (press release)

Pioneering public service program also opens application process for young journalists to serve in undercovered communities

Contact: Michelle Hillman, mhillman@inkhouse.com

NEW YORK, February 8, 2018  — Report for America today announced that nine news organizations have joined its national movement to strengthen democracy by improving the quality and quantity of local news. At the same time, Report for America this week started taking applications for the next group of emerging journalists to work in these local newsrooms in undercovered corners of the country. Reporters can apply to participate as corps members in Report for America here.

Report for America, the only journalism initiative in the U.S. that combines public service with its mission to cover local news, recruits talented young journalists and deploys them into local news organizations.  

The winning news organizations, chosen through a highly competitive process, were selected based on their commitment to public service, their track record of mentoring and their plans for using the corps member effectively. They are: Dallas Morning News; KRWG (Las Cruces, New Mexico); The Macon Telegraph (Georgia, in collaboration with the News Co/Lab of Arizona State University); Chicago Sun-Times; The Victoria Advocate (Texas); The Incline (Pittsburgh) and Billy Penn (Philadelphia); Mississippi Today; and Mississippi Public Broadcasting.   

Report for America corps members will join these news organizations in June.

The news organizations were selected in an application process in which editors described major gaps in community coverage and how they would use a Report for America corps member to provide better coverage. Report for America corps members are now working in Appalachia for the Lexington Herald-Leader, Charleston Gazette-Mail and West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

Report for America is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, a nonprofit news organization dedicated to supporting and training a new generation of journalists to report in undercovered corners of the world. GroundTruth’s Report for America initiative has received seed funding from Google News Lab, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, the Galloway Family Foundation and the Select Equity Group Foundation.

“The overwhelming response from both news organizations and prospective reporters is thrilling,” said Steven Waldman, President and co-founder of Report for America. “Clearly there’s a growing recognition that the crisis in local journalism poses a real threat to democracy and to the health of communities.”

“We believe that by putting reporters on the ground, in the communities, we will not only improve journalism but increase trust,” said Charles Sennott, co-founder of Report for America and CEO and Editor of The GroundTruth Project. “We can see from the reporters already in Appalachia, these emerging journalists are committed to public service and able to make a dramatic impact right away.”

Report for America’s goal is to place 1,000 reporters in community newsrooms in the next five years.

Under this unique model, half of the reporter’s salary is paid by Report for America and the other half is covered locally, usually through a combination of direct newsroom support and local philanthropy.

Report for America corps members will receive an intensive, 10-day training workshop and orientation before they join their news organizations.

Once embedded in their host newsrooms, Report for America corps members will be managed by the local editors, and will receive mentoring and training through the year. They will be required to complete a public service project such as working with local students on their school news websites or newspapers.

Report for America received 250 applications for the first three reporting slots and more than 85 local news organizations applied for one of the nine opportunities to host RFA corps members.

More about host media organizations and coverage areas:

 

Dallas Morning News

The Dallas Morning News is Texas' largest news organization.  

The Report for America corps member will cover the growing communities of second-generation Hispanic immigrants in North Texas so their interests will be represented in the Morning News’ journalism and in the area’s institutions.

 

KRWG in Las Cruces, New Mexico

 

Located at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, KRWG operates NPR and PBS stations and a news website, krwg.org, serving southern New Mexico, which has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.    

The Report for America corps member will do radio, TV and print pieces, covering education, healthcare, economic development, and sustainability in a challenging desert environment.

 

Macon Telegraph & the News Co/Lab of the Cronkite School

The Telegraph, the leading news organization of Macon Georgia, is part of the McClatchy organization. It is a partner in the Center for Collaborative Journalism at Mercer University, which includes Mercer's journalism program and Georgia Public Broadcasting's Macon radio station. CCJ's goal is to train the next generation of watchdog and digitally-focused journalists.

The Telegraph is partnering with the Co/Lab of the Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University in a project to promote trust and engagement with readers. The RFA corps member will be a key player in this effort, working with local residents to select issues of significant public interest (including, potentially, health care disparities, blight and poverty) and producing stories and other content on those topics.

 

Chicago Sun-Times

The Chicago Sun-Times is the legendary news voice of Chicago’s working class. The news organization was recently acquired by a diverse consortium of philanthropists, business leaders and Chicago area labor organizations.

The Report for America corps member will focus on covering neighborhoods on Chicago’s South and West sides, where crime, housing, education and environmental challenges persist. The reporter will focus not only on writing about problems in those areas, but also on efforts to lift up those communities, including business development, infrastructure improvements and social-service interventions. He or she will cover government and community events; be a watchdog for taxpayer dollars, and tell the stories of everyday people.

 

Victoria Advocate

Established in 1846 – the same year the Republic of Texas joined the Union – the Advocate has a rich tradition of local ownership and stewardship of its community. It was named the Newspaper of the Year in 2014 by the Local Media Association.

The Report for America corps member will cover local government in Victoria and assist the Advocate’s coverage of how Hurricane Harvey exposed and intensified the gap between the Texas Gulf Coasts’ richest and poorest residents.

 

Billy Penn and The Incline
Billy Penn and The Incline cover Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, respectively, focusing on young news consumers using mobile devices and building community via both vibrant online presences and frequent offline events.

The Report for America corps member will cover the state legislature in Harrisburg (one of the most undercovered state houses in the nation) and will focus on issues of importance to residents of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh

 

Mississippi Today

MississippiToday.org is dedicated to providing Mississippians with reporting that inspires active interest in their state and equips them to engage in community life.

One Report for America corps member will expand written coverage of public policy issues, particularly health care, in the nation’s poorest state, especially in the Mississippi Delta and other poverty-affected areas.

A second Report for America corps member will work as a photojournalist to illustrate through a visual approach to storytelling the impact of public policy issues such as health care, education and income security in the Delta. Video skills will be a plus.  

 

Mississippi Public Broadcasting

Mississippi Public Broadcasting is an eight station statewide television and radio network.

The Mississippi Delta remains one of the most deprived regions in the country. The Report for America corps member will help examine how poverty affects the lives of residents and resources needed to address their critical needs.  

About Report for America

Report for America is the only nonprofit journalism initiative in the U.S. that combines public service with its mission to cover the news. Launched in 2017 and donor-financed, Report for America is creating a new, sustainable system that strengthens communities and journalism. Our mission is to deploy talented, service-oriented journalists into undercovered areas, provide 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.

 

Steven Waldman