We spoke with Norm Parish, Director of Recruitment for Report for America, and Cronkite alumni who are currently working in the program for their insight about the selection process and to hear about their experience working as a corps member in the field.
What Is Report for America?
Report for America was founded in 2017 as a response to the dramatic drop in the number of local journalists across the country. Every year, emerging journalists apply to serve as corps members in communities with urgent gaps in coverage.
Where Do Corps Members Report From?
Currently, Report for America is supporting reporters covering critically important beats in 46 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico with plans to increase that number to 1,000 reporters by 2024.
Who Are The Reporters?
During this last application period, about 1,800 journalists applied to roughly 170 open positions through Report for America. The average age of a Report for America is 27 years old, according to Parish. Some of these reporters, including print, broadcast and photo journalists, are deployed in the field a few months after graduation, while others are seasoned professionals seeking to help these underserved communities.
Kailey Broussard, a recent graduate from the Cronkite School's Master's program, was placed with the Star Telegram in April and has been reporting in the city of Arlington, TX, which has gone without regular news coverage for a few years despite being the 14th largest city in the country with almost 400,000 residents, and home to the Dallas Cowboys and a public university.
"It's been amazing so far," Broussard said. "... I've got a lot of ground to cover."
Miranda Cyr, also a recent graduate from the Cronkite School's Master's program, has been working as an education reporter for the Las Cruces Sun News.
"... New Mexico is not renowned for its education," Cyr said. "So there's obviously a lot of issues with it. There's a lot of poverty here as well and Internet access has been a really big obstacle for a lot of districts in the state."
These are just some of the communities that reporters may be placed in, however, newsrooms all over the country are in need of the next generation of reporters to help people get the information they need to understand the critical issues facing their community.
How Does the Program Work?
Following an interview with Report for America, reporters may be selected as a finalist for one or more newsrooms across the country. They will then interview with those newsrooms and hopefully, in the end, be placed with a news organization.
Report for America corps members receive training throughout their time in the program and will also be paired with a mentor to provide them with personal, ongoing advice.
In addition to reporting, corps members must complete a service project. The intent of the service project is to inspire the next generation of journalists by working with middle and high school children in their communities.
When Do I Need to Apply?
The application for journalists will go live on December 3, 2020, and remain open until January 31, 2021.
"Don't wait till the last minute to get it in," Parish said. "The sooner you get it in the better."
To learn more, stream the full panel discussion here. This workshop was originally recorded during the 2020 Adapt & Conquer series hosted by the Cronkite School.
More About Adapt and Conquer:
Adapt and Conquer the new college and/or job market landscape with the Cronkite Career Services team and learn useful tips to help you navigate our new reality. Workshops are open to all Cronkite students and alumni, and are hosted virtually via Zoom. For a full schedule of upcoming events, visit: www.cronkitecareerservices.com/adapt-conquer.