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What 'Report For America' Journalism Grants Mean For Vermont News (And For VPR)

A box of "Report For Amercica" reporter notebooks
Report For America, courtesy
A box of "Report For Amercica" reporter notebooks herald the 250 journalists that grants will help place in more than 160 newsrooms across the country.

Three Vermont newsrooms — including VPR — are getting Report for America grants to help support an additional reporter in their newsrooms. In VPR's case, that reporter will focus on the Northeast Kingdom.

VPR Assistant News Director Mark Davis joined Vermont Edition to discuss the grant program and what it means for newsrooms in Vermont, including VPR's.

There will be 250 journalistsplaced in 164 newsrooms across the country through the latest round of grants. The project, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, aims to place journalists in news organizations to focus on under-covered stories and communities.

Davis said the grant will bring coverage to areas of the state "that are sadly underserved and don't have enough reporters."

VPR's reporter will be covering the Northeast Kingdom, which Davis said is "the area that we are most struggling to get someone to. ... We just don't have a lot of stories coming out of the Kingdom."

According to Davis, the VPR reporter will likely begin by the summer.

"They'll be here for at least a year," he added. "There's an option to extend to two years — we certainly hope to take advantage of that."

The grant covers 50% of the journalist's salary; VPR and other grantees will have to cover the other half of the reporter's pay.

Other Vermont newsrooms receiving the grant include online news outlet VTDigger, which will base a reporter in Rutland to cover southern Vermont, and Valley News in West Lebanon, New Hampshire. The Valley News is getting two journalists through the grant: a position covering the environment and climate in the Upper Valley of both Vermont and New Hampshire, and a photojournalist covering northern New Hampshire and Vermont.

"I think sadly it also speaks to a real perceived need in this region for the help," Davis said regarding the number of grant recipients in our region. "But this is I think a wonderful service for the twin states, certainly, to get more reporters up here."

Broadcast live on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019 at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

Jane Lindholm is the host, executive producer and creator of But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids. In addition to her work on our international kids show, she produces special projects for Vermont Public. Until March 2021, she was host and editor of the award-winning Vermont Public program Vermont Edition.
April Qian was a part-time producer for Vermont Edition.
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