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Solving The Problem Of News Deserts

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Kim Kleman. Photo: Report For America

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You may have heard of food deserts: areas in the city where it’s hard to get fresh fruit and vegetables, but what about news deserts? As media outlets struggle in the face of shrinking ad revenue and declining subscriptions, there are fewer reporters covering local politics, city hall, and other beats that have a big impact on people’s daily lives. 

Report for America aims to change that by putting emerging reporters into these so-called news deserts. 

“We are growing exponentially this year,” Report for America’s national director Kim Kleman tells Intersection.

“We started in January of 2018 with three reporters. And then we grew to 11 reporters. This past year, we put 60 reporters in the field. Next year, we’re going to 250. Our goal is by around 2023- 2024 to have 1000 reporters in the field.”

Kleman says the hollowing out of the media business is a “huge problem.”

“There are so many unreported and underreported communities and issues. And that is what Report for America is mainly aimed at addressing. So yeah, there are whole communities that have no reporters to cover events. And we think that that is that is eroding democracy also, ultimately, when you don’t know what’s going on in your community, how can you be civically engaged?”

The program also aims to help newsrooms better reflect the communities they cover.

“40% of our reporters in Report for America are emerging journalists of color,” says Kleman.

“So we really believe that Latinos and African American reporters, Asian American reporters, Native American reporters, we really need to see those reporters better reflected in our newsrooms. So those are those are among the reporters that we’re really trying to recruit for our program.”



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Matthew Peddie

About Matthew Peddie

Host of WMFE's Intersection & Assistant News Director

Matthew Peddie grew up in New Zealand and studied journalism at the University of Western Ontario. After graduating with an MA in Journalism he returned to Christchurch, working as a reporter for Radio Live and Radio New Zealand. He’s reported live from the scene of earthquakes, criminal trials and rugby ... Read Full Bio »