Or­ga­ni­za­tion will help fund 250 lo­cal jour­nal­ists na­tion­ally

Orlando Sentinel - - NATIONAL & WORLD - By David Bauder

NEW YORK — An or­ga­ni­za­tion that is try­ing to bol­ster the strug­gling lo­cal news in­dus­try said this week that it will help fund the hir­ing of 250 jour­nal­ists across the coun­try next year.

That’s a sharp in­crease from the 61 jour­nal­ists put in the field this year by Re­port for Amer­ica, an ini­tia­tive of the GroundTrut­h Pro­ject. Its first class of lo­cal re­porters in 2018 num­bered 13.

With the help of foun­da­tion funding, Re­port for Amer­ica pays half the salary of these re­porters for two years. Lo­cal news or­ga­ni­za­tions kick in 25% and agree to raise the re­main­der from do­na­tions by lo­cal sources.

The grow­ing sup­port il­lus­trates how peo­ple out­side of the news in­dus­try are rec­og­niz­ing what is lost in com­mu­ni­ties when news or­ga­ni­za­tions strug­gle. The Univer­sity of North Carolina es­ti­mates that 26,000 to 32,000 news­room jobs have been lost across the coun­try since 2004.

“These com­mu­ni­ties need to be heard from and we’re re­ally glad to be part of a process that is try­ing to con­front the cri­sis in lo­cal news and re­store jour­nal­ism from the ground up,” Charles Sen­nott, co­founder of Re­port for Amer­ica, said Mon­day.

Stud­ies show the col­lapse of lo­cal news cov­er­age has con­trib­uted to po­lar­iza­tion in so­ci­ety and less par­tic­i­pa­tion in gov­ern­ment, he said.

These jour­nal­ists in­clude the 14 new re­porters cov­er­ing state­houses across the coun­try for The As­so­ci­ated Press, which were an­nounced last week.

Sixty-nine daily news­pa­pers, 39 dig­i­tal-only sites, 39 pub­lic ra­dio sta­tions, 12 lo­cal TV sta­tions and five nondaily news­pa­pers will add re­porters. Among the par­tic­i­pants are the Mi­ami Her­ald, WRAL-TV in Raleigh, North Carolina, Iowa Pub­lic Ra­dio, the Brook­lyn Ea­gle and Ra­dio Bilingue in Cal­i­for­nia. Re­porters will be placed in 46 states.

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