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Sentinel IDEA reporter supported by Report for America, local readers

Tucson's nonprofit independent newsroom growing with grants, community backing

A new fulltime reporter will be digging into government accountability and social inclusivity in Southern Arizona next year, with support from TucsonSentinel.com's readers and the national Report for America program.

The Sentinel was among 64 newsrooms across the United States picked from hundreds of applying news organizations, the national nonprofit journalism program announced this week.

The journalist hired by the Sentinel will report on the IDEA beat — watchdogging local government agencies, businesses and activist groups with a focus on issues related to Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity and Access. The new position will report on cross-topic stories about ethnicity, race, poverty and changing demographics, with an eye to telling stories that would otherwise go untold.

Being picked as an RFA participant is "exciting and humbling for our local nonprofit newsroom," said Dylan Smith, editor and publisher of TucsonSentinel.com.

Report for America will fund a portion of the new reporter's salary; the Sentinel must cover the remainder of their salary and associated expenses with financial contributions from the community. You can become a member of the Watchdog Club, and help fund this reporting position and the Sentinel's vital independent journalism. All contributions through the end of the year are eligible to be DOUBLED — dollar for dollar — by NewsMatch!

In fact, because of RFA's support for a large portion of the salary of our new IDEA reporter, every dollar you give now will mean $4 supporting journalism in Tucson. Your dollars will be matched by NewsMatch, and that amount will go to paying half of the salary of a new watchdog reporter — RFA will support our work by funding the other half.

Subscribe and stretch your donation over time:

$10/mo. Cub Reporter
$15/mo. Printer's Devil
$20/mo. Stringer
$40/mo. Correspondent
$50/mo. Senior Correspondent
Enter your own monthly amount (number only)

Or give a secure one-time gift with PayPal or your credit card:

$5,000 Newshound
$2,500 Trusted Source
$1,000 Copy Desk Chief
$500 Correspondent
$250 Stringer
$100 Printer's Devil
$50 Cub reporter
$25 Informed Source
$10 Dear Reader
Enter your own amount (below)

The privately organized Report for America initiative, part of The GroundTruth Project, is a two-year program (with an option for three) that delivers a wide range of benefits to its corps of journalists placed on local newsrooms. Beyond paying up to half of the journalists' salaries, it provides ongoing training and mentoring by leading journalists, peer networking, and memberships to select professional organizations.

Support TucsonSentinel.com today, because a smarter Tucson is a better Tucson.

Applications are being accepted now until January 31. RFA says it's looking for "talented, ethical, insanely hard-working, gutsy, open-minded, service-oriented journalists to inform communities and hold powerful institutions accountable."

"With the local news system shrinking, it's important that we both put more and more reporters in the field — and that we help newsrooms that are working toward becoming more sustainable, and more grounded in the community," said Steve Waldman, president and co-founder of Report for America. "It's particularly gratifying that newsrooms have, en masse, decided that they want to do better coverage of communities of color."

TucsonSentinel.com went through a highly selective proposal and interview process before being chosen as an RFA participant.

"We're tremendously honored to be picked as a Report for America newsroom," said Smith. "It's exciting to play a role in rebuilding local news across the country, with RFA and our work with groups such as the Institute for Nonprofit News and Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers."

"While chain-run newspapers and stations have cut and cut and cut yet again, truly local news organizations like the Sentinel aren't just breaking important news stories — we're leading the way in fixing the news business," Smith said. "And we're doing that with support from national groups such as Report for America, along with vital donations from members of this community. We're very grateful for all of those contributions."

"Report for America provides a unique opportunity for journalists to really sink their teeth into local, issue-oriented reporting that is missing from so many newsrooms today," said Norman Parish, RFA's recruitment director. "Beyond talented reporters and photojournalists, we are looking for individuals who see journalism as a public service and want to make a difference within their communities."

RFA tapped newsrooms from among the hundreds of applicants on the basis of which ones "defined the most compelling gaps in coverage and plans to deploy corps members well," the organization said.

Report for America looks to place 1,000 journalists into local newsrooms by 2024. It is supported in its efforts by a number of philanthropic leaders, including the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Facebook Journalism Project, Natasha and Dirk Ziff, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, Craig Newmark Philanthropies, the Lumina Foundation, the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Heising-Simons Foundation, the Henry L. Kimelman Foundation, the Tow Foundation, and the Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation.

"There is a growing awareness that the crisis in local journalism has everything to do with the crisis in our democracy; but we believe trusted, local journalism breaks down barriers and brings people together. Supporting local news through Report for America is part of the way forward, a way to restore civic engagement and respectful dialogue across the divides in our country," said Charles Sennott, GroundTruth chief executive officer and co-founder of Report for America.

"We can't wait to work with our newsroom partners and our reporting corps to restore journalism from the ground up," Sennot said.

Support TucsonSentinel.com today, because a smarter Tucson is a better Tucson!

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 and donor-financed, 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 media organization with an established track record of training and supporting teams of emerging journalists around the world and in the United States. Report for America is a MacArthur Foundation 100&Change finalist, a global competition for a single $100 million grant.

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