FAQ for judges

Report for America aims to place 250 emerging journalists in newsrooms throughout the country next year to report on undercovered communities. To do that, we need to evaluate hundreds of submissions from prospective host newsrooms and corps members.
Can you help?​ We’re enlisting current and former journalists to read and evaluate these applications. Details are below.

How many judges do you need?

We need 60 judges to assess newsroom applications, and roughy 200 judges to evaluate corps member applications (not including our own staff).

How many applications will I evaluate?

Fifteen. If you want more, let us know!

How much time will that take?

About 7 hours.

What’s the judging criteria?

For newsrooms,​ it’s mainly whether they’ve clearly articulated a coverage gap and a specific beat to fill that gap; that they have processes in place to support emerging journalists; and that they can pay their share of the reporter’s salary. (We pay half and they’re responsible for half.) We also want newsroom judges to do some digging—what does the website look like? Are stories well written? Has the newsroom been in the news itself lately? Why?

For corps members,​ it’s the quality of their reporting and their track record to date, their commitment to local news and their spirit of service. (Specialty skills, such as fluency in a particular language or data skills, may be factors, too.)

How will I access the applications?

We use Submittable.com. We’ll send all judges a link to a user’s guide on how to access the submissions. And we’ll be available 24/7 for help if you need it.

What constitutes a conflict of interest for judges?

You can’t judge your own newsroom, but we trust you to judge another newsroom even if you have friends there as long as you feel you can be fair. Educators will generally judge newsrooms, not prospective corps members, but in cases where they do evaluate corps members applications, we ask that they recuse themselves from judging their school’s alumni.

Will I be paid?

For the most part, only in swag—a handsome Report for America pin. A few dozen judges will be needed to conduct video interviews with corps member finalists; they’ll be paid a $500 honorarium. Let us know if you’d like to be one of them.

When will I be evaluating applications?

For newsroom judging, between mid-September and mid-October. For corps member judging, in February and early March.

Will I be the only person evaluating these applications?

No. All applications will be read by at least two external judges and numerous staffers within our organization. We’ll share with external judges the names and contacts of other judges reading the same applications so that you can discuss the applications if you choose. But you don’t have to.

I’m on board. How do I sign up?

Go to ​this page​ on our site, and click on the application. Make sure to write a two-sentence journalistic bio and upload a mugshot of yourself. We like to prominently feature and promote our judges on our website.

Thanks in advance for your help. We couldn’t do this without you!