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National journalism program teams up with El Paso Matters on new reporting position

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El Paso Matters is one of 64 local news organizations nationwide selected to host a Report for America corps member for the next two years.

The journalist hired for the position will report on issues affecting women in the El Paso-Ciudad Juárez region, El Paso Matters CEO Robert Moore said.

“The future of our region will be determined in large part by how we enhance the status of women when it comes to education, economics, health and numerous other issues,” Moore said. “With this reporting position, El Paso Matters will be able to examine the challenges and opportunities faced by women in our binational community.”

He said people interested in the reporting position should first apply to become a member of  Report for America’s Reporting Corps for 2021-22. Moore encouraged journalists from the border region, especially recent college graduates, to apply to become members of the RFA corps

Report for America, which is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, is a two-year program (with an option for three) that delivers a wide-range of benefits to its corps members. Beyond paying up to half of the journalists’ salaries, it provides ongoing training and mentorship by leading journalists, peer networking, and memberships to select professional organizations. 

“With the local news system shrinking, it’s important that we both put more and more reporters in the field — and that we help newsrooms that are working toward becoming more sustainable, and more grounded in the community,” said Steve Waldman, president and co-founder of Report for America. “It’s particularly gratifying that newsrooms have, en masse, decided that they want to do better coverage of communities of color.”

Report for America began placing journalists in newsrooms in 2018. Next year, it will have more than 300 journalists working in community news organizations across the country.

Participating newsrooms and corps members are chosen through a highly competitive process, Report for America officials said. Applications for the 2021-22 corps membership is open until Jan. 31, and those selected will begin working in local newsrooms June 1.

“Report for America provides a unique opportunity for journalists to really sink their teeth into local, issue-oriented reporting that is missing from so many newsrooms today,” said Norman Parish, recruitment director for Report for America. “Beyond talented reporters and photojournalists, we are looking for individuals who see journalism as a public service and want to make a difference within their communities.”

Report for America looks to place 1,000 journalists into local newsrooms by 2024. It is supported in its efforts by a number of philanthropic leaders, including the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Facebook Journalism Project, Natasha and Dirk Ziff, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, Craig Newmark Philanthropies, the Lumina Foundation, the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Heising-Simons Foundation, the Henry L. Kimelman Foundation, the Tow Foundation, and the Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation. 

“There is a growing awareness that the crisis in local journalism has everything to do with the crisis in our democracy; but we believe trusted, local journalism breaks down barriers and brings people together. Supporting local news through Report for America is part of the way forward, a way to restore civic engagement and respectful dialogue across the divides in our country,” said Charles Sennott, GroundTruth chief executive officer and co-founder of Report for America. 

El Paso Matters is a non-profit, non-partisan civic news organization that began publishing in February 2020, focusing on in-depth and investigative reporting. In its first year, El Paso Matters was one of four finalists for the Online News Association’s General Excellence in Online Journalism Award for Micro Newsrooms.

“We’re grateful that Report for America has selected El Paso Matters to host a corps member,” Moore said. “This will allow us to further expand our ability to provide the people of our region with the information they need to affect change on the most important issues we face.”

In hosting a Report For America corps member, El Paso Matters has committed to providing half the salary for the reporting position for the next two years. Moore said individuals or groups interested in providing financial support for the position should contact him at bmoore@elpasomatters.org.

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