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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 first few are in Appalachia.
The application for the 2020 reporting corps is open until January 31, 2020. Apply here.
You do get to express preferences, and you can also select “send me where I’m most needed.”
We call Report for America a two-year program with a one-year check-in. If after the first year you and your news organization want to continue for a second year, you can.
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.
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 at least some meaningful journalism experience. On average the applicants so far have had between 1-3 years experience but we’ve also accepted people with less and more.
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, and we’re not bashful about saying so. We also have a service requirement to underline the idea that journalism should be geared toward helping a community, not destroying 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 more power.
Of course we think local journalism is public service in itself, but Report for America corps members will be asked to do a manageable amount of additional direct service in the community. We’re still working out exactly what this will be but the two ideas we’re focused on right now are: 1) Helping a local high school create or enhance the student-run publication or broadcast or 2) Organizing events geared around community storytelling. Most of this will be done on your own time…we’re thinking two to three hours a week.
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.
No. We figure that the entry-level-ish salary will preclude many older journalists from being able to do this but we’re open to anyone who wants to serve as a local reporter, including veterans or others who might be switching careers.
Only in rare exceptions. Report for America is focused on improving local reporting.
Report for America will pay travel expenses to and from the intensive training that you’ll participate in before your job starts. You will be responsible for paying your way to the job itself, though many newsrooms will help pay for that cost.
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.
We’re going to experiment with having a mix of people from within the region and from outside the region. Our experience hosting reporting initiatives around the world has shown locals can provide great insight about the community while out-of-towners often can bring fresh perspective.
It’s an opportunity to do a meaty project, chosen by you and your editors.
At the start of the program, you’ll spend a full week 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 be paired with a mentor who will give you personal, ongoing guidance.