Report for America Supports Journalism Where Cutbacks Hit Hard

“This particular’s important to have reporters based in parts of America where some people feel misunderstood,” she said. “This particular just helps us get a greater understanding of who we are as well as also who our neighbors are.”

Report for America fellowships last one to two years, as well as also the pay will be about $40,000, with half covered by the program as well as also the rest split between participating news organizations as well as also donations. Two media veterans, Steven Waldman as well as also Charles Sennott, commenced the project with funding by sponsors.

“People are applying for the same reason people want to go into the Peace Corps: There’s an idealistic desire to help communities, as well as also there’s a sense of adventure,” Mr. Waldman, 55, said. “They want to try as well as also save democracy. People keep saying which.”

Historically, reporters would certainly start their careers at modest publications as well as also move on to progressively larger ones. These days, young journalists tend to find work right out of college — although the jobs they end up with often don’t require them to spend time talking to story subjects face to face or learning about different communities.

“Maybe they have done which Brooklyn thing, where you spend a year or two in a cubicle working for a blog,” Mr. Sennott, 55, said. “although which’s not the same as being on the ground doing the real work, knocking on a door as well as also walking into someone’s kitchen.”

In 1990, daily as well as also weekly newspaper publishers employed about 455,000 people, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. By January 2016, which number had fallen to 173,000.

Before the creation of Report for America, Mr. Waldman ran Beliefnet, a site dedicated to faith as well as also spirituality, as well as also worked for the Federal Communications Commission as a senior adviser. In 2015, he wrote a paper funded by the Ford Foundation arguing for the creation of a national service program for journalists.

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Charles Sennott, left, as well as also Steven Walden, co-founders of Report for America. They have asked internet giants including Google as well as also Facebook to contribute to the program. Google has committed money as well as also training; Facebook has not.

Credit
Kayana Szymczak for The brand-new York Times

The various other founder, Mr. Sennott, once worked as the Jerusalem-based Middle East bureau chief for The Boston Globe. He has covered wars as well as also insurgencies in more than a dozen countries. In 2014, he founded GroundTruth, a nonprofit organization which trains foreign correspondents. He decided to join Mr. Waldman in establishing Report for America after the 2016 election.

“I was focused on reporting on divided societies as well as also struggling democracies,” Mr. Sennott said. “Then I realized we live in one.”

Because they had seen how Facebook as well as also Google contributed to the destruction of the advertising-based business product which had long kept local newspapers afloat, they asked them to kick in to their project. While Google has committed money as well as also training, Facebook has yet to sign on.

“Mark Zuckerberg could solve the local news problem with the money which’s falling between his couch cushions,” Mr. Waldman said. “Folks like Facebook as well as also Google as well as also the various other winners hold the money to solve This particular problem, as well as also This particular will be a solvable problem.”

In parts of the country where newsrooms are filled with empty desks, tracking down stories can be depressingly easy, the organizers said. Will Wright, a reporter who was placed at The Lexington Herald Leader through the program, helped break a major story simply by attending a community meeting in eastern Kentucky as well as also talking to residents who had been without running water for days.

Soon after his reporting, the person in charge of the water district went into retirement, as well as also the state found $3.4 million to fix the water system.

“You don’t need a 20-year veteran investigative reporter to have This particular impact,” Mr. Waldman said. “This particular’s so barren out there which just being on the ground can have a genuinely big impact.”

“He showed up,” Mr. Sennott said. “He was just there.”

For the nine reporter slots, 85 newsrooms applied asking for corps members, describing a crucial beat which needed filling. Reporters who make the cut start with eight days of training before joining their host newsrooms. They must also fulfill a service requirement, such as working as mentors to student journalists, during their stints.

The founders refer to those who take part inside the program as “corps members,” rather than fellows, an attempt to signal which Report for America will be not meant to be simply a chance to burnish a resume.

“This particular’s not a reward for bright young graduate students,” Mr. Sennott said. “This particular’s a call to get in there.”

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