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KVPR To Expand Local News Coverage In Kern County With Report For America

Bakersfield Arch at Buck Owens Boulevard & Sillect Ave
Flickr - Creative Commons 2.0
Bakersfield Arch at Buck Owens Boulevard & Sillect Ave

South valley listeners will soon hear more local content specific to their communities on KVPR. The station has announced that it will expand its coverage of local news in mid-2022 with the addition of a Bakersfield-based reporter thanks to a partnership with the national program Report For America. The expansion marks the first time the station will have a full-time reporter based in the south valley.

The new initiative is one of nearly 270 Report For America corps newsrooms across all 50 states, including 70 new partners launching in 2022. Report For America helps support a portion of the costs for new reporting positions at newsrooms across the country. KVPR’s Bakersfield project also involves a new public media collaborative known as Public Health Watch, which is a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news organization that focuses on threats to America's well-being.

“We’re honored and enthused to partner with Report For America and Public Health Watch to expand our local coverage with a reporter based in Bakersfield. Kern County accounts for about one third of our overall audience, and until now, it was the largest area in California without a dedicated public media reporter based in the community,” said KVPR President and General Manager Joe Moore. Beyond covering local news, the project will also explore the local impacts of climate change and the connections to the health of valley communities.

“Yes, local news is in crisis—but this batch of newsrooms also fills us with tremendous hope,” said Steven Waldman, president and co-founder of Report for America. “Newsrooms across the country are pushing to cover essential local beats like schools and rural areas, at the same time they try to better represent all of the people in their communities.” Those chosen include daily and weekly newspapers, digital-only news outlets, radio and television stations. They all offer exciting opportunities for prospective corps members, to include dozens of open beats.

Report for America, which is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, is a two-year program (with an option for three years) that delivers a wide-range of benefits to its corps members. Beyond paying up to half of the journalists’ salaries, it provides ongoing training and mentorship by leading journalists, peer networking, and memberships to select professional organizations. To help connect corps members to the community, they are required to do a service project, which often includes engaging middle or high school students in journalism related activities. Corps members will be selected from a highly-competitive, national competition. Last year, more than 1,800 applications were received.

“Report for America provides a unique opportunity for journalists to pursue meaningful, local beat reporting that sadly is missing from many of today’s newsrooms,” said Earl Johnson, director of admissions at Report for America. “Beyond talented reporters and photojournalists, we are looking for a diversity of individuals who see journalism as a calling, who want to make a difference within their communities.” Report for America prioritizes a diverse corps and is working with a number of professional organizations and college journalism programs to help ensure that newsrooms reflect the audiences they serve, added Johnson.

Report for America is supported in its efforts by a number of philanthropic leaders, including the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Meta Journalism Project, Natasha and Dirk Ziff, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Craig Newmark Philanthropies, the Joyce Foundation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the Lumina Foundation, Microsoft, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, SpringPoint Partners, the Walton Family Foundation in partnership with the University of Missouri School of Journalism, the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation, the Heising-Simons Foundation, the Henry L. Kimelman Foundation, the Tow Foundation, and the Google News Initiative.

“Make no mistake, the greatest threat to democracy is the collapse of local news,” said Charles Sennott, GroundTruth chief executive officer and co-founder of Report for America. “We are excited to welcome these newsrooms and look forward to empowering them to meet the growing information needs of the communities they serve.”

About Report for America
Report for America is a national service program that places talented emerging journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered topics and communities. Launched in 2017, Report for America is creating a new, sustainable system that provides Americans with the information they need to improve their communities, hold powerful institutions accountable, and rebuild trust in the media. Report for America is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, an award-winning nonprofit journalism organization with an established track record of training and supporting teams of emerging journalists around the world, including the recent launch of Report for the World in partnership with local newsrooms in India, Nigeria and Brazil.