You will work for a local news organization that has competed for the right to host you. Isn’t that flattering? They might be a public radio station, a newspaper, a TV station, a website — really any high-quality local news organization that can put you to great use.
The application for the 2021-2022 journalist corps is now open! The deadline is January 31, 2021 at 11:59 pm ET. You’ll hear from us in February whether you’re a finalist, and you’ll learn in March whether a newsroom has selected you as its RFA corps member.
You do get to express preferences. During the pandemic, corps members have felt especially supported when their newsroom is located in an area where they have some history—family or friends in the region or a general sense of the place.
Report for America is a two-year program with a one-year check-in. The position begins June 1. (If after the first year you and your news organization want to continue for a second year, you can. The vast majority of corps members and newsrooms do.) And we’ve just added an optional third year, which will include newsroom leadership training for corps members.
The salary is set by the local newsroom. It should be equivalent to what they pay other reporters of similar experience, skill level and seniority. That varies by region but will usually land somewhere between $30,000 and $45,000.
You will be an employee of the local news organization. You will be edited and managed by them.
Corps members are typically emerging journalists with fewer than 8 years’ experience. We’re looking for a combination of gritty, aggressive realism—and a bit of idealism. You are, after all, going to be trying to save democracy. In other words—great reporting skills plus a strong commitment to public service. We want people who can have an impact on Day One, which means some meaningful journalism experience.
For 2021-2022, we’re piloting a small group of mid- to late-career corps members. Some newsrooms with big ambitions but relatively few staffers have told us they’d like to be able to hire journalists with eight or more years experience, who can dive in on meaty accountability stories from the get-go, and also help with editing and mentoring less experienced staffers. We’ll pay half their salary up to $30,000 their first year.
Report for America aspires to create a movement—an effort to re-establish journalism as a calling and a public service. We are unapologetically idealistic. This is about fighting for truth and strengthening our communities. We also have a service requirement to underscore the idea that journalism should be geared toward helping a community, not undermining it. That doesn’t mean we want you to become town boosters. Sometimes that help may come in the form of presenting uncomfortable truths and holding powerful institutions accountable. But that’s all in service of equipping residents with more information and power.
We think local journalism is public service in itself, but Report for America corps members also provide up to three hours per week of additional direct service in the community. Your focus should be on youth media, such as helping high school journalists with their newspaper. We’ll help you select and manage your project.
Yes, yes and yes. As you know, news organizations are hungry for multi-talented journalists. But we may also find that news organizations have specific needs in which case we’ll match reporters with specialties with those newsrooms that most need them. As a baseline, everyone must write well and report well.
There’s no age limit, though the program is mainly for emerging journalists—those relatively new to their journalism career. This year, though, we’re adding a small pilot program for mid- to late-career journalists with eight or more years’ experience. On our application, you can indicate whether you’re interested in that program.
Only in rare cases. Report for America is focused on improving local reporting.
Report for America will pay moving expenses up to $750 to get you to your new job. (If your newsroom offers a lesser moving allowance, we’ll pay the difference.)
No. We have great respect for high-quality advocacy journalists of all stripes but this particular program is focused on nitty-gritty objective reporting. In fact, while you’re an RFA corps members, you won’t be allowed to endorse particular candidates or advocate sides of any issues that your news organization might be covering.
No. We want you utterly focused on and obsessed with your reporting, receiving a livable salary with benefits that will preclude the need for a second job.
You don’t have to be, though you can be. Our experience has shown that locals can provide great insight about the community while out-of-towners often can bring fresh perspective. During the pandemic, when most reporters are working from home, corps members have felt especially supported when their newsroom is an area where they have some history—family or friends in the region or a general sense of the place.
We encourage newsrooms to give corps members an opportunity to do at least one meaty project, chosen by you and your editors. That’s what we mean by enterprise project.
At the start of the program, you’ll spend time learning from expert journalists and other trainers about your beat, specific skills to know, and more. Ongoing training throughout the year will build on that. You’ll also have the opportunity to be paired with a mentor who will give you personal, ongoing guidance.
International journalists may apply if they are authorized to work in the U.S. for two or more years. (Don’t apply if you need to find a sponsor after a year.)
Yes, most of these position require that you have your own car. Should you become a finalist and interview with a newsroom, definitely confirm this detail.
You need to arrange your own housing. But your newsroom and our network of hundreds of other corps members are great resources to help you.