Ten newsrooms selected to join the Mississippi River Basin Ag & Water Desk

Photo: Justin Wilkens | Unsplash

Photo: Justin Wilkens | Unsplash

Report for America today announced the selection of 10 partner newsrooms that will join the Missouri School of Journalism’s Mississippi River Basin Ag & Water Desk in 2022. The newsrooms, ranging from small investigative nonprofits to major dailies and public media, each will receive salary support to hire a full-time environmental reporter as part of the collaboration. 

The newsrooms include:

The Mississippi River Basin Ag & Water Desk is a collaborative reporting network providing in-depth journalism and communication about water, agriculture and environmental issues across the Mississippi River Basin. The editorially independent project is funded by a three-year, $1.4 million grant from the Walton Family Foundation. 

Journalists may apply for the 10 positions through Report for America until Jan. 31. Those selected as Report for America corps members will cover individual beats for their host newsrooms and also work together on regional and national projects throughout the year. The corps members will receive ongoing training, mentorship, and expenses-paid travel to the annual conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists, in addition to other benefits.

“This project will provide tremendous opportunities for our corps members to work for news organizations that are committed to producing high-quality environmental coverage,” said Pam Fine, Report for America regional manager and liaison to the project. “The collaboration among the newsrooms, along with the expert support built into the project, are designed to elevate the reporting and bring attention to pollution, flooding, climate change and other pressing concerns shared by communities throughout the river basin.” 

Editorial Director Tegan Wendland will lead collaborative reporting produced by the team. “I am thrilled that we received so many applications for the project,” she said. “Each of the 10 partners brings unique strengths to the collaboration, and there is a huge appetite for this coverage.” 

Nearly two dozen newsrooms within the Mississippi River Basin applied to be part of the project, which aims to produce regional coverage of water and agriculture stories for distribution throughout the Basin, which stretches from Canada to Louisiana and Montana to Pennsylvania. Stories produced by the desk will be distributed, free of charge, to interested outlets for publication. 

“The Mississippi River Basin is a vital part of America, both for its role in our history and for the natural resources it provides, and it demands journalism that reflects that level of importance,” said David Kurpius, dean of the University of Missouri School of Journalism. “At a time when environmental reporting has never been more essential, these 10 newsrooms will deliver a much-needed service to communities that are hungry for knowledgeable, in-depth reporting about their region.”

Next, the Ag & Water Desk will hire five expert journalists to serve as mentors, team leaders and collaborators. More information can be found on the Ag & Water Desk website. 

About Report for America

Report for America is a national service program that places talented emerging journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered topics and communities. Launched in 2017, Report for America is creating a new, sustainable system that provides Americans with the information they need to improve their communities, hold powerful institutions accountable, and rebuild trust in the media. Report for America is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, an award-winning nonprofit journalism organization with an established track record of training and supporting teams of emerging journalists around the world, including the recent launch of Report for the World in partnership with local newsrooms in India, Nigeria and Brazil.

About the Ag & Water Desk 

The Mississippi River Basin Ag & Water Desk is a collaborative network of journalists focused on increasing coverage of agriculture, water and environmental issues surrounding one of the world’s major river systems. This editorially independent initiative is funded by a three-year, $1.4 million grant from the Walton Family Foundation. The project is led by Executive Director and Associate Professor Sara Shipley Hiles and advised by Associate Dean Earnest Perry, and Associate Professor and News Director at KBIA, Ryan Famuliner.

Updated: December 7, 2021

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