100&Change: 2020

The GroundTruth Project

Report for America: Eliminating American News Deserts

Report for America is a movement to transform communities and strengthen democracy by eliminating American news deserts, reaching more than 200 million people nationwide.

Submitted: August 2019
DOWNLOAD: Project Factsheet
Two-page overview of proposal
Competition Participation
100&Change: 2020
Strengthening democracy
Current Work Location(s):
  • West Virginia, United States
  • Alaska, United States
Priority Population(s):
  • Children and youth
  • Adults
  • Economically disadvantaged people
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):
  • 9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure
  • 10. Reduced inequalities
  • 11. Sustainable cities and communities

Executive Summary:

The crisis in local journalism has become a crisis for democracy. News bureaus nationwide have shuttered. Editorial budgets have been slashed. Communities have suffered without coverage of important issues that affect them. Report for America’s growth coincides with an urgent need for fair, independent journalism at a time when news organizations are struggling and our country is deeply divided. With MacArthur’s support, Report for America will pursue an audacious goal: We will virtually eliminate American news deserts by fielding 1,500 talented, diverse journalists in local news outlets nationwide. The goal: every county in America should have a watchdog reporter. Report for America corps members serve their communities, reporting on under-covered challenges like education, poverty, criminal justice, environment, and health. We leverage a unique three-to-one funding match model promoting new models for shared investment in local journalism, sustaining watchdog reporting for the communities that need it most.

Organization Details
Lead Organization

The GroundTruth Project

website: https://thegroundtruthproject.org/
Organization Headquarters
Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States
Organization ID
Annual Operating Budget
< $10 Million
Number of Full-time Employees
< 50

Charity, fund, non-governmental organization, religious institution, school, or other entity

COVID-19 Response

The pandemic has made it clear why local news matters—not just to a community’s “information health,” but also its actual health. The quickening spread of misinformation and hollowing out of local newsrooms across America is a dangerous combination in a crisis. COVID-19 has closed over 30 local newsrooms across America; 33,000 reporters have been laid off, furloughed or had their pay cut. Report for America has enabled local newsrooms to deploy corps members to cover the COVID crisis, including angles that other journalists often miss, such as how this pandemic affects prison populations, the homeless, small business owners, immigrant farm workers, and Asian Americans who are facing racial discrimination. Report for America is getting more reporters on the ground quickly; enabling journalists to focus on COVID-19; emphasizing safety; and leading national discussions on what this moment means for local news.

Racial and Ethnic Injustice Response

Since The GroundTruth Project first launched Report for America, racial justice has been at the heart of the program's design. By definition, Report for America elevates the stories of people whose voices too often go unheard — from Black, Latinx, AAPI, and Native communities to groups like veterans, the elderly, children, immigrants, and rural communities. Report for America also believes WHO tells these stories determines which stories get told or deemed important, so diversifying newsrooms is critical to our mission. Our 2020 corps is 42% journalists of color, double the number as your average U.S. newsroom.