Increase your staff – and your news content – at a fraction of the cost
Imagine having a new reporter, fully trained and vetted and eager to dig into the beats, stories, and areas you’ve never had the resources to cover the way you’d like to. Imagine how you could use that content to expand your newspaper’s reach, or how that new reporter could help ease the loads your current staff – and you – are carrying. Imagine paying just a fraction of that reporter’s salary, and how you could save or reinvest that revenue.
This isn’t an imaginary scenario. It’s exactly what Report For America (RFA) provides. RFA finds experienced new college graduates, or new journalists with seven or fewer years of experience, and funds half their salaries to work in newsrooms in under-covered areas. You choose the salary amount, and RFA funds half for the reporter’s first year. RFA favors applicants who can find donors to cover a portion of the remaining salary, and is willing and ready to help you find that funding. Under a typical scenario, a reporter might make $30,000, RFA would fund $15,000, and you, along with RFA’s help if you need it, would find a donor to fund $7,500. Your new reporter would draw just $7,500 from your coffers. If you keep your new journalist a second year, RFA will fund one-third of the salary with no cap, and in the third year, RFA will fund 20 percent.
The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead currently has two RFA reporters (see sidebar), and one, Adam Willis, was last year’s NDNA Better Newspaper Contest Rookie Reporter of the Year. Those who have taken advantage of RFA’s program say the pool of reporters is excellent, RFA is eager to place reporters in the Midwest, and North Dakota fits the bill for what they are looking for in terms of supporting journalism.
The NDNA Education Foundation recently explored RFA’s programming, the board agreed it was interested in learning more, and it may provide some matching funding in the future.
What do newspapers need to do to take advantage? Newspapers must apply for this funding cycle between July 12 and Sept. 30. RFA will review applications, and communicate with and provide assistance to newspapers in the following months. The new reporters would begin work in July 2022. And, newspapers that are approved for the program are able to choose their new reporter from RFA’s pool of vetted new journalists to make sure they are a good fit.
While your crystal ball might not give you insight into how your newsroom might look a year from now, applying for the funding doesn’t mean you will be required to use it if you are selected. NDNA is here to help if you’d like assistance with your application or have additional questions. Give Sarah Elmquist Squires a call at NDNA’s office at 701-223-6397 or email email@example.com. Lots of helpful information is also available at reportforamerica.org.