NEW YORK — Report for America announced Monday that it will field 250 emerging journalists in 164 host news organizations to serve local communities across 46 states in the coming year, according to a news release.
In Oregon, the Herald and News, along with the Associated Press bureau in Salem, and Willamette Week in Portland will each host a Report for America journalist in 2020. The Herald and News reporter through Report for America will focus on key Klamath Basin issues associated with water rights, endangered species and the efforts surrounding proposed removal of four dams along the Klamath River.
The 2020 Report for America contingent is more than four times the size of the 2019 class, who have been reporting in some 50 local news organizations. This marks the single biggest hiring announcement of journalists in recent memory — and comes as a direct response to the worsening crisis in local news across the country.
Report for America is a national service program that places talented, emerging journalists into local news organizations to report for one to two years on under-covered issues and communities. An initiative of The GroundTruth Project, Report for America addresses an urgent need in journalism at a time when news deserts are widening across the country, leaving communities uninformed on local issues and threatening our democracy like never before.
“We offer a pretty simple fix for news holes in communities throughout the country — local reporters on the ground, who hold leaders accountable and report on under-covered issues,” said Steven Waldman, president and co-founder of Report for America. “The editors we’ve met during our application cycle have shown us amazing passion, commitment and sharp ideas for how to better serve their local communities.”
Applications are being accepted now until Jan. 31 at reportforamerica.org for the reporting slots. They will be chosen in a selective national competition, with leading journalists, editors and teachers acting as judges. Journalists and their newsroom pairings will be announced in April. Journalists start work in their new newsrooms in June.
The beats these journalists will cover reflect some of the biggest gaps in coverage in local news today, and some of the top priorities in society. They include stepped up reporting in remote rural areas and over-looked urban communities, and increased coverage of state legislatures and local government, as well as broader issues such as the environment, health care, education, housing, veterans’ issues and aging populations. The dramatic expansion of the corps was made possible by philanthropic leaders including the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Facebook Journalism Project, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Google News Initiative, the Ford Foundation, Heising-Simons Foundation, the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation, Craig Newmark Philanthropies, the Tow Foundation and many more.
Report for America is funding these new positions with more than $5 million in direct support to newsrooms. This investment leverages a unique funding model in which RFA pays half of a corps member’s salary, while asking its local news partners to contribute one-quarter and supporting them in getting local and regional funders to contribute the final quarter. The goal of the model is to expand the number of local reporting positions permanently.
“RFA is about serving these communities and helping to restore the pipeline for a new generation of journalists. We understand our program may not fix all that is broken in local journalism, but we are honored to be part of a wider community directly confronting the crisis and doing everything we can to restore journalism from the ground up.” said Charles Sennott, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of GroundTruth, which launched Report for America in 2017.