live / 2020
Report for Los Angeles
Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by The GroundTruth Project, home of Report for America
In 2020, Report for America will field four full-time 'corps members' - emerging journalists - who will report on under-covered communities and topics in the greater Los Angeles area: environment and sustainability; homelessness, affordable housing, and development; education and young people; transportation; and minority communities. In partnership with existing local news organizations, we will ensure Los Angeles has the local news it needs and deserves to inform more equitable community growth and development for all people.
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- County of Los Angeles
- City of Los Angeles
In what stage of innovation is this project?Expand existing program
Please list the organizations collaborating on this proposal.
- Spectrum News 1, Los Angeles, CA
- Long Beach Post, Long Beach, CA
- Voice of OC, Santa Ana, CA
If you are submitting a collaborative proposal, please describe the specific role of partner organizations in the project.
Our four newsroom partners on this collaboration will host our corps members as full-time employees, and provide them mentorship, space, editing, and distribution of their work. Those partners include Spectrum News 1, Long Beach Post, Voice of OC, and EdSource.
What is the need you’re responding to?
Nearly 1,500 communities across the United States no longer have sufficient basic news and thousands must turn to hollowed out newsrooms whose reporting resources have been decimated.
And while many may not think of Los Angeles as a “news desert,” local reporting has dramatically declined here too. The revered Los Angeles Times has fewer than one-third of the reporters it had in the 1990s, and a study by the Lear Center showed that, on average, in Los Angeles TV news, less than 1% of coverage is dedicated to public interest topics such as transportation, health, environment, education, and taxes.
Since the Federal Communications Commission report first raised the alarm about this crisis in local news in 2011, the situation has only worsened. And there are many who fear it still hasn’t hit rock bottom. Studies have shown that this disintegration of local news reporting leads to greater polarization, lower voter turnout, more pollution, less government accountability, and less trust.
Why is this project important to the work of your organization?
Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, matches talented journalists with local newsrooms from California to Connecticut for 1-2 years of service, reporting on under-covered challenges such as health, inequality, education, environment, and more. Our “corps members” are full-time employees of the news organizations they are matched with — daily newspapers, public radio stations, nonprofit newsrooms, public television — and receive training, mentorship, and networking opportunities. Additionally, all corps members complete a media-related service project in the local community.
Report for America is quadrupling the number of reporters we are fielding in local newsrooms each year — from 60 in 2019 to 250 in 2020, including four in Los Angeles. We leverage a two-to-one regional funding match model, paying half of a corps members’ salary, while supporting our news partners to raise the other half, promoting new models for shared investment in local journalism.
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this proposal?
- Direct impact
- Indirect impact
Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.
In addition to our regular metrics and tracking, we also carefully track impact instances where coverage makes a difference. To date, we have seen our corps members’ work lead to communities getting cleaner drinking water, tax dollars being more efficiently spent, and legislation on homeless students being informed by reporting.
The four Report for America corps members in Los Angeles will directly impact the newsrooms in which they are placed, ensuring they have more adequate reporting resources to better inform communities. Our partner newsrooms reach over 2M people across the Los Angeles area, and their reporting will directly inform efforts around environmental sustainability, homelessness and affordable housing, education, and more.
Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.
All of our Report for America corps members and newsroom partners are selected because they are filling a specific news gap. In other words, they’re providing coverage in Los Angeles that matters in people’s everyday lives and that wouldn’t otherwise be possible because of funding. We take a baseline of the coverage that existed the year before the Report for America corps member arrived, and track coverage throughout the year to assess how that news gap has been filled.
This year, our Los Angeles reporting will fill the following news gaps:
- Spectrum News 1: This reporter explores the question of how to make a mega-city such as Los Angeles sustainable. The reporter is responsible for covering municipal decisions regarding sustainability, attending city council meetings, and following the city’s progress on its Green New Deal goals.
- Long Beach Post: This reporter focuses on West Long Beach, writing stories that shine a light on both the good and bad. West Long Beach has long been considered an underreported area of the city. It is separated from the rest of the city by a major freeway that feeds in and out of the country’s biggest port complex, the ports of LA and Long Beach. Next to the freeway is the Los Angeles River, known for its polluted waters that feed into the Pacific Ocean, rendering our beaches unusable on rainy days or when sewage spills. The area is also home to a large minority population including Latinos, Asians, African Americans and Pacific Islanders. They face high crime, high unemployment and have some of the lowest numbers of high school graduates compared to the rest of the city, according to the latest Census figures.
- Voice of OC: This is a local beat, covering various cities of North Central Orange County. The county’s three million residents live in the secondmost densely populated county in California. Homelessness, affordable housing, transportation, environmental issues and social services/healthcare are major public policy issues that touch every resident on a daily basis. -EdSource: This journalist covers post-secondary education, a struggle for immigrants from many countries. We know, for example, that fewer immigrant students applied for state college tuition assistances out of fear that doing so would attract attention from immigration authorities.
Which of the live metrics will your submission impact?
- Housing affordability
- Poverty rate
- Resilient communities
Are there any other LA2050 goal categories that your proposal will impact?
- LA is the best place to LEARN
- LA is the healthiest place to CONNECT
Which of LA2050’s resources will be of the most value to you?
- Host public events or gatherings
- Communications support
- Office space for meetings, events, or for staff