MENDOCINO Co., 12/8/21 — The first rule of journalism is “don’t become the story,” but we’ve got some exciting news of our own this week: we’re going to be bringing you more local reporting with a focus on government accountability! The Mendocino Voice has been selected to expand our staff in 2022 thanks to the support of Report For America, with a full time journalist dedicated to covering local government here in Mendocino County. We were selected as one of 70 new local newsrooms out of 400 applications this year, and our newest staff member will begin next summer as one of 150 new reporters across the country, working to expand local news coverage at daily and weekly newspapers, digital-only news outlets, radio and television stations.
Here in Mendocino, we are lucky to have our environmental reporter, Sonia Waraich, who was selected in an earlier round of Report For America applications, so we can bring you reliable and useful coverage on wildfire preparation, drought, logging, fisheries, and all the environment and natural resources information that is so important to our communities on the North Coast. Now, in 2022, we’ll be able to further expand our coverage of local government, including our Board of Supervisors and city councils, special districts, rural legislative issues, and more. Applications are open now and will be accepted until the end of January — more information about how to apply can be found here.
As part of the program, The Mendocino Voice’s new journalist will have a portion of their full-time salary covered by Report For America for up to three years as a way to build more sustainable local newsrooms — which means the remainder of their salary and support costs will come from financial contributions from our members and business sponsors! If you’d like to help support more local news in Mendocino County, please consider becoming a member today. We also have a fiscal sponsorship to receive tax-deductible gifts towards this program — if you’re interested please email us at [email protected]ice.com. Our local staff is currently supported through funding from the Community Foundation of Mendocino County and the Solutions Journalism Network.
If you know someone who might be interested in the new government accountability reporting position, please get in touch with us at [email protected]. RFA will be involved in portions of the candidate selection process, and the process will be competitive, but we will also interview candidates and make the final pick to ensure they’re a good fit for Mendocino County.
“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. Other newsrooms selected in 2022 in our region include our friends at Berkeleyside, Mission Local, the San Jose Spotlight and North State Public Radio, as well as outlets such as the Texas Tribune, the Salt Lake City Tribune, the Oregonian, the Washington City Paper, and many more.
Here’s more information from the announcement from Report For America:
Report for America, which is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, is a two-year program (with an option for three years) 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. 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.
Applications are being accepted until Jan. 31; however, those who apply before Dec. 31 will receive early consideration. 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, 2022.
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. Based on feedback from the field:
● Report for America is expanding into more rural communities, with more than 40 new positions available, to reach areas hardest-hit by newsroom closures
● 40 of the total beats are focused on education, with 18 in the new group ● The program looks to fill two dozen Spanish-speaking positions, helping newsrooms reach the growing Latino population in their communities
● There’s increased demand for coverage of the environment, with 31 new beats open
● Many of the beats—nearly 40%— will cover communities of color, meeting a continued demand from newsrooms to provide more equitable coverage
“Yes, local news is in crisis—but this batch of newsrooms also fills us with tremendous hope,” said Steven Waldman, president and co-founder of Report for America. “Newsrooms across the country are pushing to cover essential local beats like schools and rural areas, at the same time they try to better represent all of the people in their communities.”