Arizona Republic gets Report for America grant to cover rural life

Two new posts covering rural life and communities in northern and southern Arizona will be funded by the nonprofit Report for America in association with The Arizona Republic.

The Republic was announced as the host newsroom on Wednesday by Report for America, which opened nearly 150 new reporting positions across the country.

Reporters will be based in northern and southern Arizona to provide greater coverage outside of the state’s major metropolitan areas. They will team up with a third reporter based in the Phoenix newsroom.

Greg Burton, editor of The Republic, said, “Never has it been more important to surface information and help people make informed decisions about democracy, especially in rural Arizona. This partnership gives us the opportunity to deepen coverage of regional issues and topics that resonate across the state.”

The Republic will publish the book in its print editions and on azcentral.com. Coverage will also be available to news outlets outside of Maricopa County.

Report for America is a national service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to report on underreported issues and communities. An initiative of The GroundTruth Project, a nonprofit media organization, it aims to tap into the skills and idealism of emerging journalists.

The two-year program, with a three-year option, pays up to half a journalist’s salary and provides training and mentorship opportunities. The Republic will seek additional funding from those interested in rural news coverage.

Report for America reporters are required to complete a service project to better connect with their communities, which often includes engaging middle or high school students in journalism-related activities.

Tucsonsentinel.com was the only other Arizona outlet to be named a newsroom host. He received funding for a reporter to cover Tucson’s food, music, religion, and cultural scene.

Newly selected newsrooms, as well as those renewing their partnership, will increase Report for America’s body size to 325 in 2022. Report for America will place reporters in nearly 270 newsrooms in all 50 states, Puerto Rico , Guam and the US Virgin Islands.

Steven Waldman, president and co-founder of Report for America, calls the dwindling number of reporters in local newsrooms across the country a crisis. But, he said, “this batch of newsrooms also fills us with immense hope.”

“Newsrooms across the country are striving to cover essential local beats like schools and rural areas, while trying to better represent all people in their communities,” he said.

The Republic is already a host newsroom for Report for America. Megan Taros, who joined the staff in 2020, covers South Phoenix.

Applications for the positions in northern and southern Arizona will be accepted by Report for America through January 31. However, those who apply before December 31 will be considered quickly.

The process is competitive. Last year, more than 1,800 applications were received for RFA positions.

“Beyond talented reporters and photojournalists, we’re looking for a diversity of people who see journalism as a calling, who want to make a difference in their communities,” said Earl Johnson, Director of Admissions at Report for America.

Report for America is supported in its efforts by a number of philanthropic groups, including the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Meta Journalism Project, Natasha and Dirk Ziff, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Craig Newmark Philanthropies, the Joyce Foundation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the Lumina Foundation, Microsoft, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, SpringPoint Partners, the Walton Family Foundation in partnership with the University of Missouri School of Journalism, the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation, the Heising-Simons Foundation, the Henry L. Kimelman Foundation, the Tow Foundation, and the Google News Initiative.

The new reporters will start on June 1.

Report for America provides partial funding for rural news reporting positions. The Republic is seeking additional funding from those interested in coverage. Email Stacy Sullivan at [email protected]