Report for America is partnering with the Investigative Editing Corps to offer host newsrooms and their corps members editing help for an enterprise or investigative project the newsroom otherwise couldn’t do. We want to help newsrooms do more of the accountability journalism editors believe their communities need, and to mentor reporters in investigative work. The program is paid for by a generous grant from the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long will projects last? Typically three to six months.
Will our newsroom’s involvement cost us any money? No.
How many projects will this partnership take on? Up to 5 per year over the next two years.
Can we propose a project for a whole team including non-RFA reporters? At least one RFA corps member must be involved, but the project can include others.
What’s the interaction between the IEC investigative editor and host newsroom? If the newsroom is open for in-person meetings, the project editor will travel to the newsroom to meet with editors and the project reporter(s) at least once. Virtual meetings will follow.
Does the newsroom editor have any say in the selection of the IEC editor? Yes, the IEC editor will be selected in consultation with the newsroom.
How available does the reporter need to be during the project period? We recognize that initial reporting on the project may have to be juggled with other assignments, but at some point, the reporter(s) will have to focus on the reporting to complete the project.
What are some examples of the work RFA host newsrooms have produced with help from the Investigative Editing Corps? In a pilot program last year between RFA and IEC, here are the two projects produced:
- Maine jail officials promised jailed defendants that the phone calls between them and their attorneys would be private, but corps member Samantha Hogan found that county jails routinely recorded attorney-client calls, and some police listened in while investigating cases. In response to her “Eavesdropping in Maine Jails” investigation, state lawmakers formed a study group that proposed sweeping policy changes at prosecutors and law enforcement agencies. The project received an honorable mention for investigative reporting from the Institute for Nonprofit News, a national journalism award. She was Maine’s 2021 Journalist of the Year. This project was edited by IEC founder and Pulitzer-Prize winning investigative editor Rose Ciotta.
- Alejandra Martinez, while reporting on marginalized communities for KERA/The Texas Newsroom, investigated the toxic chemical TCE in the soil and groundwater around poor neighborhoods in North Texas, a vestige of an abandoned manufacturing plant. Residents had been kept in the dark about the contamination. Thanks to her reporting, the problem is on the radar of state and federal environmental agencies. This project was edited by Vernon Loeb, executive editor of InsideClimate News and an IEC board member. He was formerly an editor at the Houston Chronicle, Philadelphia Inquirer and Washington Post. InsideClimate News also ran this story. Martinez is now reporting on environmental justice issues for the Texas Tribune.
Investigative Editing Corps has also collaborated with newsrooms from Maine to California on seven other projects, most related to the pandemic.