The Lexington Herald-Leader will re-establish a reporting bureau in Pikeville next year as part of a partnership aimed at providing deeper news coverage in the coalfields of Eastern Kentucky and southern West Virginia.
The Lexington-based newspaper is one of three regional news organizations partnering with the Galloway Family Foundation and The GroundTruth Project’s new “Report for America” initiative to establish three yearlong fellowships in 2018 for emerging journalists. The other news organizations are West Virginia Public Broadcasting and the Charleston Gazette-Mail.
The three journalists will report directly to their respective news organizations and combine daily assignments with a longer, in-depth project that will be a collaboration of the three news organizations. (Journalists interested in applying may do so here.)
The project is supported financially by the Galloway Family Foundation, which finances investigative and in-depth journalism fellowships in the United States and around the world. Founder L. Thomas Galloway, who hails from Kentucky, said he hopes the project “will increase the resources available to Appalachian journalism, and in doing so, allow for more in-depth coverage of the serious issues confronting the region.”
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The GroundTruth Project, which supports a new generation of journalists to tell the most important stories of their generation, will work with the three news organizations to coordinate the initiative. The yearlong project is part of GroundTruth’s pilot for “Report for America,” a public service program for journalists to be embedded in local community news organizations, which GroundTruth is undertaking in partnership with Google News Lab.
All of the foundation and individual funding sources for Report for America, including the support from the Galloway Family Foundation, adhere to strict standards for transparency and independence in nonprofit funding, and each of the host newsrooms will maintain complete editorial control over the work they publish or broadcast as part of this partnership.
In Kentucky, the reporting fellow will be assigned to Pikeville, re-establishing a bureau for the Herald-Leader in the heart of rural Appalachia for the first time since 2011.
“Appalachia is a place with amazing and important stories to tell, and we’re thrilled to be involved in a project to get more journalists on the ground to tell them,” said Peter Baniak, editor of the Herald-Leader. “Partnering with such talented local newsrooms and The GroundTruth Project to train emerging journalists is an added bonus, and we’re grateful to the Galloway Family Foundation for recognizing the potential benefits for journalism and the region.”
In West Virginia, the Charleston Gazette-Mail and West Virginia Public Broadcasting both plan to have their reporting fellows report in the state’s southern coalfield and will be working with the communities to assess the best place to base the coverage.
A goal of the project will be to support the emerging journalists through a mentorship program and a training workshop, which will include a collaboration with the Center for Investigative Reporting to prepare and guide the reporters to work together on a long-form piece for Reveal, the public radio program and podcast that CIR produces and distributes nationally with PRX.
GroundTruth founder and CEO Charles Sennott, an award-winning foreign correspondent and editor, said Report for America’s mission is to “invite talented, emerging journalists to answer a call to service by reporting in communities that are struggling and not being heard from.”
The project aims to place 1,000 journalists in U.S. newsrooms in the next five years. Those salaried positions will be supported by national and local donors and the participating newsrooms.
“We hope the effort will serve the public and in so doing be part of a process of restoring trust in journalism at a time when it is in deep crisis,” Sennott said.