Report for America, a national service program that places talented emerging journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered topics and communities, today named Asheville Watchdog a host newsroom for 2022 and 2023. The award will help support a full-time reporter — Asheville Watchdog‘s first full-time paid employee — to cover topics related to Asheville’s and Buncombe County’s 2020 commitments for reparations to the region’s Black communities.
“We’re grateful to Report for America and to The GroundTruth Project for selecting Asheville Watchdog for this honor,” said Bob Gremillion, publisher. “And we’re especially grateful for the support of our donors in the local community, whose generosity gives us the resources we need to participate in the program. We look forward to welcoming our new reporter to Asheville.”
Asheville Watchdog was selected from among scores of applicants for the Report for America host program, and will be one of four North Carolina newsrooms to host Report for America reporters next year. The others are Enlace Latino NC, covering state and local elections from a Latinx perspective; The Triangle Tribune, reporting on issues surrounding students of color in Wake County schools; and Durham-based WTVD Television, reporting on Fort Bragg and local veterans’ issues.
Asheville Watchdog will be matched with an early-career reporter chosen by Report for America for the two-year program (with an option for three years), beginning June 2022. More than 1,800 reporters applied last year for about 150 reporting positions. Barbara Durr, Asheville Watchdog‘s liaison with the Report for America program, said The Watchdog hopes to choose the new reparations and social justice reporter from among applicants this spring.
Report for America will pay up to half of the journalist’s salary for the first year, along with ongoing training and mentorship by leading journalists, peer networking, and memberships to select professional organizations. Asheville Watchdog, a nonprofit news organization launched in 2020, will be responsible for paying the balance of the reporter’s salary and benefits.
To help connect Report for America journalists to their new communities, they are required to do a service project, which often includes engaging middle or high school students in journalism related activities.
“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 Asheville Watchdog and look forward to empowering it to meet the growing information needs of the communities it serves.”
To learn more about Report for America, visit www.reportforamerica.org. To help support Asheville Watchdog‘s hiring of a reporter to cover this important beat — and to help build a lasting foundation for quality local news in Asheville and surrounding communities — visit www.avlwatchdog.org/donate.