What is Report for America?
Think "Teach for America" for journalists. Report for America is a new model that will provide emerging journalists with a year-long immersive experience working in local newsrooms in under-covered corners of America. The national initiative will promote a new wave of journalists who are actively working to strengthen journalism, enrich communities, empower citizens and restore trust in media.
How does Report for America work?
Report for America corps members will be carefully selected based on their skill, character, and commitment to public service journalism. Their journey will begin with intensive training and workshops to prepare them for the year ahead, plus continued support and mentoring from the Report for America team throughout the year. RFA corps members will be deployed to local news organizations that apply to host them in their newsrooms to do critically-important local journalism.
Who is the Report for America team?
The initiative is founded by veteran journalists and social entrepreneurs Charles Sennott and Steven Waldman with support from The GroundTruth Project and partners Google News Lab, The Lenfest Institute for Journalism, Knight Foundation, Galloway Family Foundation, Center for Investigative Reporting, Solutions Journalism Network and other top organizations focused on the future of journalism. Advisors also include Wendy Kopp, the founder of Teach for America, and Alan Khazei, the founder of City Year. and many leaders in journalism.
When will Report for America roll out?
RFA will pilot its first class of reporting corps positions across the country starting in early 2018, with the application process opening in Fall 2017.
What is the criteria for newsrooms that will host reporting corps members?
Sharp plan for using reporter well
Meeting the match requirements
To elaborate, newsrooms will be selected by a Report for America committee of journalists and community service leaders based on the following criteria:
A) Strength of plan for how the news organization will deploy RFA corps member to produce local journalism that serves the public interest and which the newsroom would not otherwise be able to do. Reporters may focus on general assignment, investigative, local politics, health, education, the military, environment, an under-covered community or another beat.
B) Ability to provide 25 percent of the cost of the reporting position and to raise an additional 25 percent through local or regional funders. (RFA will provide 50 percent of the cost of the reporting position.)
C) An existing culture of mentorship within the news organization or a plan for providing great editing and mentoring.
D) Willingness to partner on a capstone reporting project to be mutually agreed upon by the newsroom, RFA corps member and RFA.
E) Willingness to allow reporters to engage in service projects, as long as they do not interfere with reporting duties.
We welcome newspaper, radio, television and digital outlets of all sizes — commercial or non-profit — across the United States to apply to work with Report for America. Selected newsrooms will have the option to renew positions for a second year with mutual agreement by the newsroom, corps member and RFA, with the newsroom bearing a higher portion of the costs in the second year.
What is the criteria for reporting corps members?
Report for America is open to anyone who wants to be a local journalist — and has the skills and character to make an immediate difference. You’ll be doing important public service journalism in under-served communities around the country. This program targets emerging journalists, but will not be restrictive of age. Some may be right out of school, some with a few years of journalism experience and some with experience in related fields that could make them excellent reporters.
The key criteria: can they have a positive impact in the communities? We’ll ensure a diverse corps — not only in terms of race, ethnicity and gender but also income, geography, viewpoints and background.
The national Report for America recruitment process will be highly selective and prestigious. Emerging journalists will apply to the national organization, which will select the finalists with the help of a committee of journalists and community service leaders based on the following criteria:
A) Strength of background in journalism, community service and/or fields including education, technology and military service with relevant skills for reporting.
B) Willingness and ability to work as part of a team and within a community.
C) Enthusiasm about learning new skills and techniques and sharing them with your host newsroom.
D) Commitment to public service through journalism and outside of journalism.
How does the funding model work?
In the first year, the national organization will provide 50 percent of the cost of each reporting position, the local news organization provides 25 percent and local donors provide 25 percent.
Selected RFA corps members will receive a market-rate annual salary, equipment, health insurance and vacation time in accordance with the host newsroom’s employment policy.
RFA will NOT be government funded. Rather, its unique structure will dramatically expand the base of donors supporting local journalism to create positions in newsrooms across the country.
When will you be making decisions about who participates?
We plan to make an official call for applications in October and to select our first 2018 RFA corps members before the end of the year.
What is the “service requirement”?
We think much journalism is public service but we also want RFA corps members to go the extra mile and do service projects in the community. In particular, we’re looking to have them work in high schools and middle schools to help start or strengthen student-run news websites, feeds, TV shows or newspapers.
Is this only for non-profit news organizations?
No. Commercial news organization are eligible too — as long as they have a great plan for how to use the RFA corps members for civically-important reporting assignments.
This is awesome! I have lots more questions for you.
Great! Just drop us a line. Thanks for your interest in Report for America.