Protect local news: Add Report for America to nonprofits you support.
Ensuring community vitality in the midst of tests such as addressing injustices arising from our violent racial history, mitigating the effects of a pandemic, and resettling Afghan refugees requires our commitment to local journalism.
Report for America emerged from the proposition that the shaky financial model for local news requires fresh ingredients to sustain the information bonds we need to solve pressing problems.
After the nonprofit initiative placed Brandon Drenon with IndyStar to boost coverage of how racial differences play out locally, I made a $365 donation to Report for America. As you consider donations — or if you are an individual or corporate underwriter looking for ways to support the metro area in 2022 — I encourage you to do the same.
Drenon covers racial justice and equity, emphasizing the area’s Black and brown communities through storytelling and data-driven coverage of business, education, and health issues. He’s part of a team Daniela Franco Brown leads that covers systemic racism and other forms of injustice.
A former investigative reporter with IndyStar, I know the hard work that goes into providing in-depth coverage. It’s not inexpensive. It’s essential, and third-party charitable contributions bring new revenue.
Foundation support also is increasingly in the mix. In addition to generously matching my contribution, my employer Lumina Foundation became a national funder of Report for America, with a $500,000 grant. As a program officer, advancing Report for America’s efforts reunited me with former IndyStar managing editor Pam Fine, who works in the Midwest to ensure a greater focus on underreported topics and communities.
Report for America placed criminal justice reporter Katrina Pross with WFYI, drawing local matching dollars from Cummins Inc. More recently, the initiative announced a new higher education journalist for IndyStar and a new religion reporter for The Indianapolis Recorder by mid-2022. These positions also will require our support.
Report for America is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, a nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization dedicated to supporting the next generation of journalists in the United States and around the world. Here’s how it works: Report for America covers up to half of a reporter’s salary initially and helps the host newsroom develop the fundraising relationships and insights necessary to come up with the other remainder. The journalists also propose, design, and complete local service projects.
GroundTruth launched Report for America nearly five years ago to place 1,000 journalists in newsrooms across the country by 2024, reversing a decades-long reduction in the number of local reporters. Since I left journalism for philanthropy in mid-2007, newsrooms have eliminated tens of thousands of jobs, and hundreds of newspapers have shut down.
We’ve seen a coarsening of political discourse and rising distrust in their absence.
To make a difference in the community, please visit IndyStar.com/RFA. Or donate by check to The GroundTruth Project. Send it to Report for America, IndyStar, c/o The GroundTruth Project, 10 Guest Street, Boston, MA 02135. Write “IndyStar/Report for America” in the memo field.
Indy’s future hinges on creative, in-depth, independent news coverage as a foundation of civic life. Department stores, national advertisers, and print subscribers covered this expense in the past. It was never perfect. Today, what remains is at great risk, even amid record news readership.
Carefully reported and well-written local news that builds understanding of challenges with no easy answers can help us overcome distrust and polarization. That’s why I hope you’ll add Report for America to your to-do list.
Kevin Corcoran, a former investigative reporter for IndyStar, is a strategy director with Lumina Foundation, an independent, private foundation in Indianapolis committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all.