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Sun-Gazette newsroom selected for ‘Report for America’ journalism initiative

Sun-Gazette newsroom selected for ‘Report for America’ journalism initiative

The Sun-Gazette is among 50 newsrooms nationwide to field 50 new positions to report on under-covered topics; Deadline for Corps member applications extended to Feb. 8

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Boston — Report for America, a national service program that places talented emerging journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered topics and communities, announced today that The Sun-Gazette newspaper is among 60 newsrooms nationwide that will host a Report for America (RFA) corps member starting in June 2019.

To win the right to host one or more reporters, each news organization had to demonstrate that there is a civically-important gap in coverage and that they have a strong plan to deploy new reporting resources in the public interest. Some focused on geographic gaps, and others on coverage of particular issues or communities.

The Sun-Gazette’s application focused on agriculture reporting. Being in the midst of the one of the nation’s most productive agricultural regions, the RFA reporter would focus on following stories of how regulations are affecting farms of all sizes, how labor issues affect the poverty of farm workers, and how government subsidies play a role in one of the oldest business models of the private sector.

“Tulare County is among the highest valued agriculture economies in the nation, the top ag exporting county in the nation, and is among the top producers for several crops,” said Reggie Ellis, president and publisher of The Sun-Gazette. “Conversely, our county is also among the most impoverished places in the country and is nationally known for its issues with immigration, as well as water supply and water quality.”

The Sun-Gazette is one of only three weeklies in the country to host RFA corps members and among just six newsrooms selected in California.

“It is a high honor for us and truly Tulare County to be selected for the Report for America initiative,” said Paul Myers, Editor of the Sun-Gazette. “Like all other newspapers, we struggle to cover the most important topics in our community and having an extra pair of hands will help us cover the economic engine of the county.”

Among Report for America’s 50 newsrooms announced so far, 2019 news organizations span 26 states and territories, including 18 non-profit organizations, 7 public radio stations and more than two dozen daily newspapers. The Fresno Bee was also selected for a joint project with the San Jose Mercury News involving three reporters covering poverty throughout the state in a partnership led by CALMatters, nonprofit journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s state Capitol works and why it matters. Additional news organizations and reporting positions will be announced in the coming weeks, bringing the total number of corps members to 60 in 2019. For a full list of newsrooms visit https://www.reportforamerica.org/2019-news-organizations/ .

Report for America has extended the deadline for corps member applications to February 8, 2019. The corps member application and information can be found here: https://www.reportforamerica.org/rfa-corps-members/

This group includes newsrooms that were recruited as a part of special initiatives in California, Connecticut and New York. The expansion was made possible by a surge of financial support from a variety of sources including Facebook, Google News Initiative, Knight Foundation, Ford Foundation, Heising-Simons Foundation, Dirk and Natasha Ziff, Galloway Family Foundation, Craig Newmark Philanthropies, The Tow Foundation, Select Equity Group Foundation, Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation, The Lenfest Institute for Journalism, The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, The Steans Family Foundation, Henry L. Kimelman Family Foundation and the Duo Collective.

Report for America currently has 13 reporters in Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky, New Mexico, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Texas, and West Virginia. The leap in 2019 to 60 reporters nationwide, and the goal of 1,000 reporters by 2023 speaks to the urgent need to close the local news reporting gap. The program, funded by both private and public donors, pays for half of each reporter’s salary and the remainder is covered by the local newsroom and local benefactors.

RFA corps members typically have 3 to 6 years of experience, while some are accomplished recent graduates. More than half of the current corps members have returned to their home states.

Report for America is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, an award-winning nonprofit news organization dedicated to supporting emerging journalists in under-covered corners of the world. GroundTruth launched Report for American in January of 2018. For more information on Report for America, find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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