Report For America chooses Times Record for 2021 post
Report for America has announced the selection of 64 new local news organizations as host newsroom partners, enabling the national service program to place more than 300 journalists in the field next year.
The Southwest Times Record was chosen from a list of applicants across the nation. The focus will be on food insecurity around Fort Smith.
“We are going to try and create a trauma-informed community with solutions-based reporting,” said John Lovett, regional editor for the Times Record. “With this additional reporter from Report For America, I am hopeful that we will see a real, and lasting impact that will lead to help for our neighbors by showing how this one issue touches virtually every facet of society.”
Report for America’s support is expanding to more than 200 newsrooms across the country, at a time when the impact of the pandemic has decimated local news economically. In addition to the Times Record, the newly selected newsrooms and beats include:
St. Louis American—African-American businesses in the St. Louis area
WFYI Public Media—Criminal justice in central Indiana
Granite State News Collaborative—Statehouse coverage for 20 local newsrooms
Bozeman Daily Chronicle—Photographer covering rural Montana
Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting—Agribusiness and workers’ status in Illinois
Tampa Bay Times—Mental health and health care
WBHM—Education in Birmingham, Ala.
Atlanta Journal Constitution—Asian and Latino communities in the Atlanta area
Wausau Pilot & Review—Housing in Marathon County, Wis.
California News Deserts & Trust Initiative—Five newsrooms, two foundations, fielding reporters in Butte, Kern, Madera, North Siskiyou, San Bernardino, Tulare, Yolo and Yuba counties
The selections were made mostly on the basis of which newsrooms defined the most compelling gaps in coverage and plans to deploy corps members well. But the bottom-up approach did produce certain new patterns.
Report for America doubled the number of host newsrooms owned by people of color
The program supported more locally-owned for-profit news organizations than news organizations owned by private equity firms or hedge funds
More than one third of the beats are covering communities of color, reflecting a surge in demand from newsrooms to address previously neglected beats
Half of the newsrooms are nonprofits
“With the local news system shrinking, it’s important that we both put more and more reporters in the field—and that we help newsrooms that are working toward becoming more sustainable, and more grounded in the community,” said Steve Waldman, president and co-founder of Report for America. “It’s particularly gratifying that newsrooms have, en masse, decided that they want to do better coverage of communities of color.”
Those chosen include daily and weekly newspapers, digital-only news outlets, radio and television stations. They all offer exciting opportunities for prospective corps members, to include dozens of open beats.
Report for America, which is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, is a two-year program (with an option for three) that delivers a wide-range of benefits to its corps members. Beyond paying up to half of the journalists’ salaries, it provides ongoing training and mentorship by leading journalists, peer networking, and memberships to select professional organizations.
Applications are being accepted now until Jan. 31. Corps members will be selected from a highly-competitive, national competition. Last year, more than 1,800 applications were received. Those hired become employees of their respective newsrooms and will begin their employment June 1, 2021.
“Report for America provides a unique opportunity for journalists to really sink their teeth into local, issue-oriented reporting that is missing from so many newsrooms today,” said Norman Parish, recruitment director, Report for America. “Beyond talented reporters and photojournalists, we are looking for individuals who see journalism as a public service and want to make a difference within their communities.”
Report for America prioritizes a diverse corps and is working with a number of professional organizations and college journalism programs to help ensure that newsrooms reflect the audiences they serve, added Parish. To help connect corps members to the community, they are required to do a service project, which often includes engaging middle or high school students in journalism related activities.
While Report for America is geared toward emerging journalists, it is also piloting a small “experienced corps” for 2021, with positions available for mid- to late-career journalists with eight or more years’ experience.
Report for America, which was launched by The GroundTruth Project in the fall of 2017, looks to place 1,000 journalists into local newsrooms by 2024. It is supported in its efforts by a number of philanthropic leaders, including the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Facebook Journalism Project, Natasha and Dirk Ziff, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, Craig Newmark Philanthropies, the Lumina Foundation, the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Heising-Simons Foundation, the Henry L. Kimelman Foundation, the Tow Foundation, and the Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation.
“There is a growing awareness that the crisis in local journalism has everything to do with the crisis in our democracy; but we believe trusted, local journalism breaks down barriers and brings people together. Supporting local news through Report for America is part of the way forward, a way to restore civic engagement and respectful dialogue across the divides in our country,” said Charles Sennott, GroundTruth chief executive officer and co-founder of Report for America. “We can’t wait to work with our newsroom partners and our reporting corps to restore journalism from the ground up.”
To learn more about Report for America and its mission to strengthen our communities and our democracy through local journalism that is truthful, fearless, fair and smart, visit www.reportforamerica.org.
Report for America Report for America is a national service program that places talented emerging journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered topics and communities. Launched in 2017 and donor-financed, Report for America is creating a new, sustainable system that provides Americans with the information they need to improve their communities, hold powerful institutions accountable, and rebuild trust in the media. Report for America is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, an award-winning nonprofit media organization with an established track record of training and supporting teams of emerging journalists around the world and in the US. Report for America is a MacArthur Foundation 100&Change finalist, a global competition for a single $100 million grant.