At a time when the future of local journalism seems uncertain amid mergers, closures and layoffs, Report for America is announcing its “largest corps member class ever,” placing 250 young journalists in newsrooms around the country.
The announcement from RFA, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project, was teased over the weekend and came Monday morning via Twitter: “RFA is excited to announce our 2020-2021 host newsrooms! We are honored to partner with these outstanding 164 news organizations to field 250 emerging journalists — our largest corps member class ever!”
The tweet linked to the full list of participating newsrooms, which includes the Miami Herald, Baltimore Sun, Chicago Sun Times, Detroit Free Press and more. The list includes 69 daily newspapers, 39 digital-only sites, 39 public radio stations, 12 local TV stations, and five non-daily papers.
Concerns about the state of local news, especially at newspapers, are prevalent across the country. Last week, OC Weekly shuttered after 24 years in print. Elsewhere, McClatchy Co. — which owns the Herald, among dozens of other papers — is looking for a bailout of its pension fund. The number of newsroom jobs at newspapers has declined 47% in the last decade, according to Pew Research Center analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics survey data that was released in July.
Report for America’s mission tracks from those trends: It is “to restore journalism from the ground up by supporting the next generation through field reporting that serves under-covered corners of the world.”
In a statement, RFA president and co-founder Steven Waldman said, “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 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.”