Valley Public Radio will participate in a new pilot program announced today by Microsoft that will help support local journalism in the Fresno area.
The station joins with Radio Bilingüe, The Fresno Bee, and Vida en el Valle in the project, which will support organizations in Fresno, as well as in El Paso/Juárez; Jackson, Mississippi; and Yakima, Washington. The local project also involves Fresno State's Institute for Media and Public Trust, and is organized in partnership with the Central Valley Community Foundation. A list of all of the organizations participating in the pilot project is available here.
Through direct funding, as well as in-kind technology and other support, the partners in this new journalism collaborative will work together to serve the community through enhanced local reporting across platforms. The Central Valley Community Foundation will help direct and administer the project's local funding. The project will also provide news organizations advanced technology to support data journalism, to combat "deepfakes" and other disinformation, as well as cyber-threats.
In a blog post, Microsoft’s Vice President for Strategic Initiatives Mary Snapp wrote that the pilot project aims to empower local newsrooms and journalists in a time when news organizations face multiple challenges.
"Local newsrooms are the heart of their communities," said Snapp. "They not only provide updates about the important local events and high school sports scores that I remember from my childhood but, then and now, provide in-depth local investigations with national importance. Integrity, security and safety are critical to journalists around the globe. We hope our tools will give journalists some ease from worrying about attacks and more time to focus on their essential work. With these global tools, partnerships and local pilot programs, we hope to play a role in supporting journalists, newsrooms and communities as they work to ensure they have healthy journalism for generations to come."
Valley Public Radio's President and General Manager Joe Moore says the project is an exciting opportunity to increase collaboration and bring more coverage of local news to the community. "We're excited to see Microsoft's commitment to local journalism and specifically the Fresno area, and their focus on listening to the needs of our community," said Moore. "By working together with our colleagues at Radio Bilingüe, The Fresno Bee, and Vida en el Valle, we can reach a wider audience and have a bigger impact with our reporting, whether it's on the radio, in digital, print, in English or in Spanish. When combined with the technology expertise and resources of Microsoft, this project has the potential to elevate local journalism and keep the valley better informed on key issues like COVID-19."