The New York Amsterdam News is one of 64 news organizations across the nation receiving one of more than 300 journalists to work on its staff as part of the Report for America program.
The new journalist will work with the AmNews for a year and report on the mayor, city council and city agencies. The AmNews was one of nine news outlets in New York State selected to participate in the program.
“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 Steven 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 and rural areas.”
In an interview with the AmNews, RFA recruitment director Norman Parish said the non-profit organization is similar to Teach for America and is aimed at filling what are deemed “news deserts” and helping to provide coverage to areas that need more attention. RFA is placing journalists in 49 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and Guam.
“The journalists come from everywhere,” Parish said. “Some of them are new college grads, some have been around for a while. The average age of the emerging journalist in our program is 27 with a couple of years under their belt. We have a very diverse group of journalists. Most of them are women; 42% percent of them are people of color.”
Currently, journalists are being recruited to news organizations. There are over 106 positions available across the country and are posted online. Applicants can apply through Jan. 31. News outlets are provided with three to five finalists who will be interviewed by the outlet.
Journalists selected will begin working in the newsroom who chooses them starting in June for one year. RFA pays up to half of the journalists’ salaries and provides ongoing training and mentorship.
“This is not an internship or a fellowship, this is a job,” Parish said. “They are actually the newsrooms’ employees. The goal here is to have 1,000 journalists throughout the country in the next few years. We’re trying to fill news deserts and help newsrooms who have been affected by cuts and others who are startups.”