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Report for America selects WCMU as a newsroom partner

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Report for America on Wednesday announced the selection of nearly 70 new host newsroom partners, while opening applications for approximately 150 new reporting corps positions, to help the national service program continue its growth, replace program graduates, and further efforts to reverse the collapse of local journalism. WCMU is one of three newsrooms in Michigan selected for the program.

Information about how journalists can apply to be members of the reporting corps can be found here.

The newly-selected newsrooms, along with those renewing their partnership, will expand Report for America’s corps size to 325 including nearly 270 newsrooms across all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, in 2022. WCMU Public Radio will receive its first corps member in June as part of the 2022 class of Report for America journalists.

WCMU selected as a Report for America newsroom
WCMU's News Director, Amy Robinson, sits down with WCMU's Mike Horace to discuss the station's recently awarded Report for America grant.

The selections were made mainly on the basis of which newsrooms defined the most compelling gaps in coverage and plans to deploy corps members well. WCMU Public Radio will target environmental issues in rural Michigan. As news Director Amy Robinson wrote in the station’s Report for America application: “PFAS contamination is a big issue, and we'd like to explore how these 'forever chemicals' impact the people we serve. Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac is another issue that's not going away anytime soon. If the line breaks it could contaminate one of the world's largest sources of fresh water. We also want to dig into issues like fertilizer run off, community flooding and impacts of climate change.”

Report for America is expanding into more rural communities, with more than 40 new positions available, to reach areas hardest-hit by newsroom closures.

“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.”

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.

“Report for America provides a unique opportunity for journalists to pursue meaningful, local beat reporting that sadly is missing from many of today’s newsrooms,” said Earl Johnson, director of admissions at Report for America. “Beyond talented reporters and photojournalists, we are looking for a diversity of individuals who see journalism as a calling, who want to make a difference within their communities.”

Report for America prioritizes a diverse corps and is working with a number of professional organizations and college journalism programs to help ensure that newsrooms reflect the audiences they serve, added Johnson.

Report for America is supported in its efforts by a number of philanthropic leaders, including the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Meta Journalism Project, Natasha and Dirk Ziff, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Craig Newmark Philanthropies, the Joyce Foundation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the Lumina Foundation, Microsoft, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, SpringPoint Partners, the Walton Family Foundation in partnership with the University of Missouri School of Journalism, the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation, the Heising-Simons Foundation, the Henry L. Kimelman Foundation, the Tow Foundation, and the Google News Initiative.

“Make no mistake, the greatest threat to democracy is the collapse of local news,” said Charles Sennott, GroundTruth chief executive officer and co-founder of Report for America. “We are excited to welcome these newsrooms and look forward to empowering them to meet the growing information needs of the communities they serve.”

To learn more about Report for America, visit www.reportforamerica.org.