MENDOCINO Co., 12/2/19 — We’re very happy to announce today that you’ll soon be reading a lot more local environmental news, news about regional natural resource governing bodies like the water boards, and generally more local news overall because The Mendocino Voice, in conjunction with KZYX, have been selected to host a talented young reporter by the nonprofit organization Report for America, an initiative of the Groundtruth Project.
The nonprofit announced today that, “it will field 250 emerging journalists in 164 host news organizations to serve local communities across 46 states in the coming year.”
The reporter assigned to The Mendocino Voice will be covering our “Environment and Natural Resources” beat, reporting on issues of tremendous importance to Mendocino County and the whole region, such as timber policy, water rights, the fisheries, climate change, and even fire — issues we know are of great interest to our readers. They will start in June, 2020, but applications are open now and selections will be announced in April.
If you’re interested, or know someone who might be, applications for these jobs are being accepted by Report for America till Jan. 31. RFA will do the actual selection and hiring, and the process will be competitive, but we will also interview candidates to ensure they’re a good fit for Mendocino.
The nonprofit seeks to improve the quantity and quality of local reporting nationwide through through the straightfoward, but incredibly useful, act of providing funding for half the salary of reporting positions. The Mendocino Voice and KZYX, along with local fundraising and community organizations, will also contribute to their salary. The positions are for one year but have the potential to be extended for another.
As the president and co-founder of Report for America, Steven Waldman, explained in an interview, “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.” The organization also helps to support community funding for local journalism, and restore the pipeline for young journalists seeking experience in local news, as well providing more than a week of dedicated training at the start of the position.
Waldman added, “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.” We believe this opportunity allow us to better serve our local community of readers and provide more in-depth coverage of issues that impact so much of our lives in this county.
Here at The Voice we are proud to be one of a number of local independent news organizations who will be hosting Report For America reporters, including some of our fellow members of the Local Independent Online News Publishers including Berkeleyside, Mission Local, VT Digger, the Brooklyn Eagle, and more, as well our fellow news co-op The Devil’s Strip in Akron, OH. “This was a highly selective process, so being chosen is a sign that our judges were supremely impressed with the quality of your news organization, your commitment to local journalism, and your proposal for how to deploy Report For America journalists,” the acceptance letter stated.
Here is the press release Report for America put out:
Report for America to Place a Record 250 Journalists in 164 Local Newsrooms in 2020
NEW YORK—Report for America announced today that it will field 250 emerging journalists in 164 host news organizations to serve local communities across 46 states in the coming year.
This is more than four times the size of the 2019 class, who have been reporting in some 50 local news organizations across 28 states and Puerto Rico. Today’s news 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.”
Here are highlights about the newsrooms, selected through a rigorous national competition:
● Nonprofit newsrooms account for 47 percent of the total. They include digital publications and public TV and radio stations.
● More than 30 beats involve covering state legislatures. Many of those jobs are the result of a partnership between The Associated Press and Report for America, announced last week.
● Almost one third of all positions call for journalists fluent in Spanish or other languages, to cover under-reported 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. Some 50 reporters in the 2019 class are expected to stay on another year. Journalists start work in their new newsrooms in June.
Last year, Report for America drew nearly 1,000 applications for 50 open positions, signaling significant interest among emerging journalists.
Among the newsrooms, 47 percent are nonprofits, including digital-only newsrooms, public radio and public TV stations. Several represent “new models” in journalism with innovative approaches to community investment. Others are traditional newspapers with strong records of public service that publish both daily and weekly.
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.
Those who seek to help support this ambitious effort will have their donations tripled by NewsMatch and other challenge donors through December 31.
“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.
Corps members will attend Report for America’s intensive training in June, at a site to be determined, before joining their newsrooms to launch their first year of service. The 2020 newsrooms hosting corps members are on the attached list.Report for America