Plummeting sales and revenue have led to hordes of local newspapers shutting shop which has adversely affected the quality of local reportage. To counter that, Google is making efforts to support local journalism in the USA with its new ‘Report for America‘ project.
Report for America takes its inspiration from Teach for America and is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project. It aims to attract candidates keen on local reportage and place them in local newsrooms across USA for a year as a reporter.
Report for America is supported by the Knight Foundation, The Lenfest Institute for Journalism, Galloway Family Foundation, Solutions Journalism Network and the Center for Investigative Reporting.
Talking about the impact of local reportage, Google stated, “Local reporters go to city council meetings to hold city governments accountable. They’re the first to show up when disaster strikes, getting critical information to their readers.”
“And they provide the first draft of history for cities and towns, providing reporting that keeps their communities safe, informed and connected. But not all communities in the U.S. are fortunate enough to have a strong local media presence.”
Renewing Local Journalism in the Digital Era
“Declining sales and revenues have led to local papers closing and local newsrooms shrinking. Despite this gloomy picture, there are lots of ideas about how to strengthen the local news ecosystem.”
Google will be looking to fill 12 reporting positions in newsrooms across the USA, specifically in areas which aren’t covered very well by the mainstream media.
Reporting won’t be the end of this job, which also entails community work. Report for America candidates will also be expected to help the local community like helping the ‘local high school start or improve their student-run news site or newspaper’.
“We are proud to support the Report for America pilot, a bold experiment to empower local newsrooms,” said Steve Grove, Director of Google News Lab. “This is a great initiative that we believe will bring fresh thinking and a different approach to strengthening local news.”
Google News Lab will train the Report for America candidates with a focus on digital and data journalism, and will also equip them with the latest tech including Chromebooks, 360-degree cameras, and mobile phones.