The Spokesman-Review was named Thursday as a recipient of a Report for America grant, allowing the newspaper to hire a reporter to expand its coverage of public health in the Inland Northwest.
The family-owned paper received one of 50 grants awarded to news organizations nationwide by the nonprofit Report for America, which places service-oriented journalists in under-covered communities.
To receive a grant, news organizations had to demonstrate a gap in civic affairs coverage and that they have a strong plan to deploy new reporting resources in the public interest. Half of each Report for America reporter’s salary is paid by the nonprofit, and the other half is covered by each newsroom in combination with local philanthropists.
The Spokesman-Review will use the grant to bolster coverage of health issues across the region. The grant will start in June and the paper will work with Report for America to recruit a writer for the position.
Like many newsrooms, The Spokesman-Review is grappling with economic realities that reduced its newsroom staff from 77 in 2010 to 55 in 2018. Due to cutbacks, the newspaper’s health reporting position, a key newsroom beat, remained unfilled.
Spokane is surrounded by rural communities and is a major hub for people across the region seeking health care and social services. In addition, the Spokane area has four universities and the new Washington State University Medical School, which opened in 2017 to reduce the physician shortage.
“These are important stories that need to be told and we are so grateful for the help from Report for America,” said Spokesman-Review Editor Rob Curley.
The Report for America program will support 50 new reporting positions this year at newspapers, the Associated Press, weeklies, nonprofit organizations and public radio stations in 26 states and territories. Nationwide, 130 news organizations submitted applications for the 2019 grants.
Report for America corps members, the journalists recruited for grant-funded positions, typically have three to six years of experience, while some are recent graduates. More than half of the current corps members have returned to their home states.
Report for America has 13 reporters based in news organizations in Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky, New Mexico, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia.
The program will expand in 2019 to 60 reporters nationwide, and has a goal of 1,000 reporters by 2023.
The expansion was made possible by financial support from sources including Facebook, the Google News Initiative, the Knight Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Heising-Simons Foundation, Dirk and Natasha Ziff, Galloway Family Foundation, Craig Newmark Philanthropies, The Tow Foundation, Select Equity Group Foundation, the Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation, the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, The Steans Family Foundation, Henry M. Kimelman Family Foundation and the Duo Collective.
The new grant positions announced Thursday include:
- Associated Press (Connecticut, New York) – Statehouse coverage for Connecticut and New York, focused on criminal justice and mental health issues.
- Block Club Chicago (Illinois) – Covering the Austin and North Lawndale neighborhoods on the west side of Chicago.
- Buffalo Bulletin (Wyoming) – The local energy production industry in Johnson County.
- CALMatters (California) – Three reporters will cover poverty throughout the state in a partnership led by CALMatters that also includes the San Jose Mercury News and the Fresno Bee.
- Centro de Periodismo Investigativo (Puerto Rico) – Watchdog reporting on hurricane recovery efforts in Puerto Rico.
- Chalkbeat (New Jersey) – Education reporting in Newark, NJ.
- Charleston Gazette-Mail (West Virginia) – Poverty in southern West Virginia.
- The Charlotte Observer (North Carolina) – Affordable housing crisis and poverty in Charlotte.
- Chattanooga Times Free Press (Tennessee) – Local coverage of religion and faith communities.
- Chico Enterprise-Record, Ukiah Daily Journal (California) – Fire recovery in northern California.
- Cincinnati Enquirer (Ohio) – Local government watchdog reporting in Northern Kentucky.
- Connecticut Mirror) – Mental health and criminal justice.
- Desert Sun (California) – Native American issues in Coachella Valley, California.
- Detroit Free Press (Michigan) – Issues related to the re-entry of ex-prisoners into the community.
- El Nuevo Herald (Florida) – Coverage of Nicaraguan, Mexican, Honduran, Dominican, Colombian and Venezuelan communities in Miami-Dade County.
- Forum of Fargo-Moorhead (North Dakota) – Covering local schools.
- Honolulu Civil Beat (Hawaii) – Health care disparities among native Hawaiians.
- KUER (Utah) – One reporter will focus on Native American populations in southern Utah and the other on St. George’s County.
- Lexington Herald-Leader (Kentucky) — Health care in eastern and southern Kentucky.
- Malheur Enterprise (Oregon) – Latino issues in Malheur County.
- Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting (Maine) – Statehouse coverage, especially related to education.
- Modesto Bee (California) – Children’s health in the central valley.
- News & Observer (North Carolina) – Watchdog reporting related to the Hurricane Florence recovery.
- Q City Metro (North Carolina) – Housing and gentrification in Charlotte, N.C. through the lens of the African American community.
- Sacramento Bee (California) – Coverage of Hmong, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian, Cambodian and Japanese communities.
- Salt Lake Tribune (Utah) – One reporter covering San Juan County and one reporter covering women’s issues.
- Spectrum TV Buffalo (New York) – Mental health issues in Buffalo.
- The Spokesman-Review (Washington) – Public health in Eastern Washington.
- Sun-Gazette (California) – Agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley.
- The Advocate (Louisiana) – Public health in south Louisiana.
- The City (New York) — Juvenile justice in the Bronx.
- WCAI (Massachusetts) – Climate change in Cape Cod, southern Massachusetts and Nantucket.
- West Virginia Public Broadcasting (West Virginia) – State government in West Virginia.
- Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism – Criminal justice misconduct.
- WPLN (Tennessee) – Criminal justice in Nashville.
- Additional grants to be awarded in coming weeks.
In addition, Report for America will renew its commitments to the following programs:
- Victoria Advocate (Texas) – Rural public health
- Chicago Sun-Times (Illinois) – South and west sides of Chicago
- Mississippi Today – Criminal justice and photography
- Mississippi Public Broadcasting – Mississippi Delta
- Dallas Morning News (Texas) – Second generation immigrant communities
- Lexington Herald-Leader (Kentucky) – Eastern Kentucky
- Charleston Gazette-Mail (West Virginia) – Southern Coalfields of West Virginia
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