Report for America partnership brings Indigenous affairs journalist to the R-E |
TRAVERSE CITY – Michigan’s only full-time indigenous affairs journalist to join the Record-Eagle newsroom in June thanks to an expansion of the newspaper’s partnership with Report for America.
Sierra Clark, a current fellow of the Mishigamiing Journalism Project, will join the newsroom all day June 1st. Clark
The Traverse City Record-Eagle will expand its newsroom staff and expand its coverage of indigenous communities in 2021 thanks to a growing partnership with Report for America.
The nationwide journalism initiative announced new and expanded partnerships Tuesday that will accommodate more than 300 journalists in more than 200 newsrooms. The selection of Record-Eagle to host Michigan’s only dedicated Indigenous Affairs reporter doubles the report for America’s investment in Traverse City.
The Record-Eagle was selected to host data journalist Kaye LaFond in 2020. Report for America, an initiative of The Ground Truth Project, a nonprofit, offers up to half the salary of every reporter for up to three years. The partners’ newsrooms are looking for local supporters to cover the remainder of each reporter’s salary and benefits.
“There is a growing awareness that the crisis in local journalism has everything to do with the crisis in our democracy. However, we believe that trustworthy local journalism breaks down barriers and brings people together. Report for America’s support for local news is part of our journey to reestablish civic engagement and respectful dialogue between parts of our country, ”said Charles Sennott, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Report for America at GroundTruth. “We can’t wait to work with our newsroom partners and our reporting corps to restore journalism from the ground up.”
The America report was released in 2017 with the goal of having 1,000 journalists in US newsrooms by 2024 to counter a decade-long decline in the number of local reporters in communities. Between 2008 and 2019, more than 36,000 newspaper editorial jobs were cut nationwide and hundreds of newspapers closed their doors.
Those responsible for RFA want to place journalists in partner newsrooms, in which they can concentrate on topics and communities that have not been dealt with.
“We are thrilled that Report for America has expanded its investment in our newsroom and community,” said Nate Payne, Editor of Record-Eagle. “Indigenous communities across Michigan have been deprived of meaningful coverage in local and national news for far too long. Thanks to the help of RFA and our extraordinary community, we are taking a significant step in the right direction. “
The Record-Eagle began promoting indigenous journalism in the Grand Traverse region in 2020 through a partnership with the Mishigamiing Journalism Project and Indigenizing the News. This joint effort aims to train aspiring Indigenous journalists and get their work published in news outlets across Michigan.
The Record-Eagle is one of eight Michigan newsrooms selected for Report for America partnerships and one of four that houses more than one member of the RFA Corps. The newspaper has the largest newsroom north of Lansing and has been increasingly encouraged to fill in gaps in nearby communities when other news organizations sign contracts.
The report on America’s work is funded by a growing list 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, and 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, the Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation, and more.
Funding for the RFA position is split between the organization, the newspaper and community donations.
RFA, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project, has expanded its newsroom corps exponentially this year from 59 reporters to 225 serving in 45 states and Puerto Rico. A $ 2.5 million contribution from the Facebook Journalism Project spurred the growth to prop up local newsrooms amid national cuts and challenges, an RFA statement said.
The placements were fiercely contested. The program had more than 1,800 applicants.
LaFond’s work ethic and local expertise have brought them to the fore, said Nathan Payne, Executive Editor of Record-Eagle.
“Kaye is an incredibly talented data journalist and we are excited to add her full time to our newsroom team,” said Payne. “Few news organizations in Michigan have a dedicated data journalist, especially one as experienced as Kaye. With the help of RFA, we are creating something very special here in Traverse City. “