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“Journalism is an act of faith in the future.” ― Ann Curry

The percentage of communities "completely lacking" in local news, according to Duke University's Assessing Local Journalism.

 "While many of these communities may be receiving news from their local media outlets, none of this news focuses on issues and events within the community."


Stirring the Waters
Corps members Molly Born of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, Caity Coyne of the Charleston Gazette-Mail and Will Wright of the Lexington Herald-Leader collaborated on a six-month project o
n the state of water quality in central Appalachia.

Born explains in an interview how coal companies leaving the region led to the water systems falling into disrepair and tells the story of Megan Hatfield Montgomery, a nurse in Chattaroy, West Virginia: "Several times a year, she might go days without being able to flush her toilets, take showers or wash clothes."

Already the series has drawn attention from Kentucky officials and lawmakers, who are calling for increased regulationTake a look at "Stirring the Waters" and watch a documentary introduction (below) from GroundTruth Films highlighting Born, Coyne and Wright's fieldwork.
Groundtruth Films produced this documentary about "Stirring the Water," a series that examines the absence of clean, reliable drinking water in parts of Appalachia. 

Mississippi’s unfinished history
Mississippi Public Broadcasting's Delta reporter and RFA corps member Alexandra Watts wrote an On the Ground essay after covering the re-examination of the 1955 murder trial of 14-year-old Emmett Till:

Even the facts in history books can be wrong, and there are facts and observations I learned that can’t be found in books, but by having conversations and gathering as many perspectives as possible.

Watts also reflects on the 1950s newspaper articles displayed at the Emmett Till Interpretive Center across the street from the courthouse where Till's murderers were acquitted. "Save for black-owned media outlets, most of the coverage was racist, problematic and false," Watts writes. (We will regularly feature dispatches from our RFA corps members on the website of The GroundTruth Project, the home of Report for America.)
Podcasting 101 
As part of their placement, Report for America corps members take on service projects to mentor the next generation of journalists. Corps member Samantha Max, who works at the Macon Telegraph in Georgia, teaches students how to podcast with a weekly workshop called Storytelling through Sound at the Hutchings College and Career Academy. Students learn the basic tenets of journalism and technical skills like logging tape, writing scripts and editing audio. "Most hadn’t even heard the word 'podcast' before our first session, but by the end of the semester, they’ll have created their own episode, from start to finish," Max said.
Award-winning work
Corps member Michelle Liu's reporting on Mississippi prisoner deaths — she found August was the deadliest month for the state's prisoners in five years — was selected by INN as one of the "Best of Non-Profit News in 2018." Congratulations to Michelle and Mississippi Today! 
Would you like to become a Report for America corps member?
Join us for a Facebook Live Q&A on Jan. 17 at noon EST! 

Neighborhoods in flux 
Dallas Morning News reporter and RFA corps member Obed Manuel reported on the effects of gentrification on a Mexican family-owned bakery: "Though business is as good as ever for Vera’s, the bakery finds itself in the middle of two worlds: the heavily Hispanic Oak Cliff that made it successful and the rapid wave of gentrification that has pushed out other businesses and residents in favor of trendy restaurants and high-end living spaces."

Manuel appeared on the NBC affiliate in Dallas to discuss his story on a report that says nearly 600,000 children under five in Texas might not be counted in the census due to where they live — which could affect millions in dollars in federal funding.

Corps Member Q&A
Sarah Anne Hughes of Spirited Media

Corps member Sarah Anne Hughes of Spirited Media reports on Pennsylvania state politics for The Incline in Pittsburgh and Billy Penn in Philadelphia. Her work this year included reporting on the aftermath and the victims of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh. In our interview with Sarah, she discusses the importance of local journalism: "I consider what I do to be a calling."
Apply now to become a Report for America Corps Member


A voice for the most vulnerable 
In a series called “A Fragile State,” The Times-Picayune is exposing how Louisiana's mental health care system failing the most vulnerable residents — including Joy Smith, a mother whose son Bruce died after setting their house on fire. 
A cover-up, revealed 
This week, a 19-month investigation revealed a pattern of sexual abuse by Jesuit priests in remote Native communities in Alaska and on reservations across Washington, Montana, Idaho, and Oregon. Emily Schwing of Northwest News Network started her investigation while working as a news director in Alaska, and further reported the story with Mike Corey and Aaron Sankin of Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting. Together, they discovered at least 20 accused priests were allowed to quietly retire at a Jesuit-owned residence at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. 

When news combats polarization 
New research suggests the closure of local newspapers increases political polarization among voters — in large part because the vacuum of local news is being filled by national news. Chloe Reichel over at Journalist's Resource in summarizes the study.

Survival in Paradise
“As the flames roared closer, Sanders stroked Lincoln’s cheeks and made a pact with the stranger to her left. ‘If it comes down to it, if you have to run, take the baby. Leave me behind.'"

That's from the San Francisco Chronicle's Lizzie Johnson in "Survival in Paradise," a tremendous tale of residents' efforts to escape the Camp Fire in Northern California. Rachelle Sanders, pictured above with Lincoln in a photo by Gabrielle Lurie, was evacuated from a hospital shortly after giving birth. (The Chronicle also expertly told the story of last year's Carr Fire with the immersive storytelling of "150 MInutes of Hell").
An open records benchmark 
The public records wizards at MuckRock announced that their users have helped release more than three million pages of documents. Muckrock's system for requesting records tracks the responses, creating a massive trove of government records. Requests span local, state and federal agencies — everything from local police department incident reports, government agency communications policies and FBI investigation records.

Holding agencies accountable for workplace deaths 
A collaborative effort between the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, the Ohio Valley ReSource and Center for Public Integrity yielded Fatal Flaws, an investigation that found Kentucky “failed to properly investigate nearly every single worksite death in two years.”

The truth comes out 
Reporters at the South Florida Sun Sentinel show how Broward school district officials attempted to hide what they knew about the disturbed former student who murdered 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. "After promising an honest assessment of what led to the shooting, the district instead hired a consultant whose primary goal, according to school records, was preparing a legal defense. Then the district kept most of those findings from the public," the story says.

We're doubling our corps in 2019.

Apply to become a corps member by February 1, 2019. Learn more about joining Report for America, and check out application FAQs here.
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