The Cordova Times selected as a 2020 Report for America host newsroom

Nationwide program to place a record 250 journalists in 164 local newsrooms in 2020

Print editions of The Cordova Times. (Dec. 1, 2019) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times
Print editions of The Cordova Times. (Dec. 1, 2019) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

The Cordova Times has been chosen as a host newsroom for Report for America, a program that helps fund journalism in underserved communities across the nation.

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, according to an RFA news release. Today’s news marks the single biggest hiring announcement of journalists in recent memory — and comes as a direct response to the worsening crisis of local news across the country.

Two other Report for America host newsrooms in Alaska announced today include Anchorage Daily News and KCAW in Sitka.

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.”

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 overlooked 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, the 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,” said Charles Sennott, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of GroundTruth, which launched Report for America in 2017. “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.”

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.