Where will I work?
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.
How do I apply?
The application for the 2019 reporting corps is now closed. The 2020 corps application process will open in December and close in January.
Do I get to pick my town or city?
You do get to express preferences, though we don’t guarantee you’ll get your top picks. You can also select “send me where I’m most needed.”
How long is the term?
The basic term is one year. However, if both you and the news organization would like to continue for a second year, you probably can. (The newsroom will have to put in a bit more money but that’s their problem, not yours.)
How much will I get paid?
The salary is set by the local newsroom, and is usually equivalent to the starting salary. That varies by region but will usually land somewhere between $28,000 and $45,000.
Who will be my boss?
You will be an employee of the local news organization. You will be edited and managed by them.
What kind of person are you 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 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.
Why is this called a “service opportunity” rather than just, you know, a job?
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.
What is the service requirement?
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 about five hours a week.
Is this for writers? Or video journalists? Data journalists?
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.
Is there an age limit?
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.
Will you have national reporting openings?
Nope. Report for America is focused on improving local reporting.
Will Report for America pay my travel expenses?
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.
Can I do advocacy journalism?
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.
Can I get a second job on the side to supplement my income?
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.
Do I need to be from the region?
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.
What’s the “capstone” project?
It’s an opportunity to do a meaty project, chosen by you and your editors.
What kind of training will I get?
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.