Amazing News About Applications to Report for America

The application window for Report for America has closed, and we received a stunning 740 applications for nine slots.

We’re thrilled that so many emerging journalists want to do a year or two of service working inside a local newsroom, reporting on critically under-covered topics or communities.

As a point of reference, our first class will be more selective than Harvard.

These 740 talented young men and women are willing to uproot their lives and dedicate themselves to communities that need their service. They are ready to listen. They’re ready to go to Las Cruces New Mexico to cover health care or the Mississippi Gulf Coast to cover education. Each application represents a desire to be part of a movement.

Earlier in the year, 85 news organizations across the country demonstrated a similar desire to improve local news. Public stations, newspapers, digital-native startups, nonprofit watchdog groups and other news organizations competed to host the Report for America corps members. (The winners).  For most local editors, the decimation of local reporting has been scarring.  They want to make it better.

The need is great. The desire of journalists is even greater.  And the Report for America model seems to be capturing the interest of news organizations, reporters, and funders.

But this is also bittersweet. After our 20+ judges evaluate applications and our newsrooms make final selections, 731 journalists who want to go to under-served communities won’t be afforded the opportunity to join our 2018 reporting corps.  (We will continue to try to place more of them.  For instance, we will re-consider some in the next class of Report for America in early 2019. Our goal is to have at least 28 reporters in 2019, 247 in 2020, 560 in 2021 and 1,000, in 2022).

What does this teach us? It’s imperative that we grow this program as quickly as possible so that we can go from a dynamic idea to a program that transforms local journalism.

The reporters are ready.  The news rooms are ready. Something big is happening. 

Steven Waldman