Starting June 1, The Reader and El Perico will gain a new staff member, Bridget Fogarty. Fogarty is joining our newsroom through Report for America and will cover issues concerning immigration in Omaha and Nebraska.
In December 2020, The Reader/El Perico was selected as a RFA host newsroom.
RFA is a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities. An initiative of the nonprofit media organization, The GroundTruth Project, it is structured to harness the skills and idealism of an emerging group of journalists plus the creative spirit of local news organizations.
This spring, RFA matched our newsroom with three corps member finalists who best reflected the interests and values of the two papers and were uniquely qualified to cover issues of immigration and Omaha’s Latinx community.
Fogarty graduated cum laude from Marquette University in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and Spanish. Her most recent work includes in-depth COVID-19 coverage for the Milwaukee Neighborhood News about the impact of the pandemic on Milwaukee’s Black and Latinx communities. She is also a trained documenter with the City Bureau Documenter’s Program in Chicago, which is designed to use citizen journalists to make public information clear and accessible. The Reader/El Perico are working to establish a similar program in Omaha.
NEW YORK, April 27, 2021—Report for America today announced the placements of some 300 journalists for its 2021 reporting corps. The cohort, which includes a number of corps members returning for a second or third year, will join the staffs of more than 200 local news organizations across 49 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and Guam.
The corps is diverse—with 135 journalists of color—at 45%, more than double the percentage found in the majority of America’s newsrooms. By better reflecting their communities, Report for America’s partner newsrooms will be better positioned to gain the trust of their audiences, amidst the national reckoning on race.
These reporting positions come at a critical moment, when many local newsrooms are closing—leaving a vacuum of trusted, accurate information that is being filled by partisan news sites and online disinformation that threaten our democracy.
“The crisis in our democracy, disinformation and polarization, is in many ways a result of the collapse of local news,” said Steven Waldman, co-founder and president of Report for America. “We have a unique opportunity to reverse this decline by filling newsrooms with talented journalists who not only view journalism as a public service, but who can make trusted connections with the communities they serve.”
Report for America is a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities. It is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, a nonprofit journalism organization.
The corps members will begin their new assignments in June. While a few are coming to the program out of college, the majority have several years’ experience working in newsrooms like: Audubon, City Bureau, CNN, Des Moines Register, El Nuevo Dia, FOX News, Kathmandu Post, Los Angeles Times, MSNBC, National Catholic Reporter, National Geographic, Navajo Times, New York Times, NPR, PBS NewsHour, Pittsburgh-Post Gazette, Popular Science, Pulitzer Center, and Rolling Stone.
For the first time, Report for America is piloting an “experienced corps” with 11 mid-to-late career journalists who will provide editorial support in their newsrooms.
The new corps members include a Pulitzer Prize finalist team member, two-time C.B. Blethen Memorial Award winner, and recipients of the Student Edward R. Murrow Award, Associated Collegiate Press Story of the Year, Melcher Family Award for Excellence in Journalism, Overseas Press Club Award, National Press Photographers Association Award, and multiple state press club awards.
The group also includes career-changers and reporters with myriad talents, including: a chef-turned journalist, a former coal miner, a paleontologist, a classically trained opera singer, a documentary filmmaker, Peace Corps and AmeriCorps volunteers, and several book authors.
The corps members attended a wide range of colleges and graduate schools from around the country and abroad, including: Brigham Young University, Columbia University, Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, Duke University, Fresno Pacific University, London School of Economics and Political Science, Marquette University, North Carolina Central University, Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Notre Dame, Ohio University, San Antonio College, Southern Methodist University, Syracuse University, Tyler Junior College, University of Alabama, University of Iowa, University of Kentucky, University of Missouri, University of Montana, University of New Mexico, University of Wyoming, Western Michigan University, and Yale University.
“Together, our emerging and experienced corps members will produce tens of thousands of articles on critically undercovered topics—schools, government, healthcare, the environment, communities of color, and more,” said Kim Kleman, senior vice president of Report for America. “The talent level they bring to their jobs can’t be beat.”
The 200-plus newsrooms are in 49 states, plus Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and for the first time, Guam. Half of the positions are in nonprofit media organizations. More than 20 newsrooms are owned or operated by journalists of color, and more than a third of the beats covered will focus on Black, Hispanic, Native American, Asian or immigrant communities.
The breakdown by media platform:
Daily newspapers: 45%
News services/collaborations: 12%
The newsroom list, searchable by state or beat, can be found online.
ESSENTIAL PHILANTHROPIC PARTNERS
Looking forward, Report for America will scale to 1,000 local reporters across the country by 2024, and transform the economics of local news to make these new reporting resources permanent. The program has an ambitious goal to raise $15 million by year-end to scale next year’s corps and meet the tremendous need in communities across the country.
“We know that the biggest global challenges of our time—like equitable health care, the impact of climate change, and affordable housing—will require trusted, local public service journalism if we are to come together to solve them,” said Charles Sennott, Report for America co-founder and GroundTruth CEO.
Report for America leverages a unique funding match model, paying half of a corps member’s salary, while encouraging and supporting its local news partners to contribute one-quarter, and local and regional funders to contribute the final quarter.
The model is seeing demonstrated success. In all, Report for America had a nearly $10 million philanthropic impact on U.S. local news in 2020. The total amount donated to Report for America newsrooms grew from $861,000 in 2019 to $4.6 million—a 61% increase per reporter.
For the first time in 2021, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) is collaborating with GroundTruth Project to support 10 of the full-time Report For America journalists at local public radio stations. Over the next two years, CPB will provide nearly $650,000 to fund half the reporters’ salaries in the first year and 42% in the second, with Report for America and stations paying the rest.
“CPB and Report for America are both committed to strengthening local journalism. By working together, we will increase journalism capacity at 10 public radio stations that are essential sources of local news in their communities,” said Pat Harrison, CPB president and CEO.