Report for America selects 11 newsrooms to expand the Mississippi River Basin Ag & Water Desk

Lock and Dam 15 in the Quad Cities on the Mississippi River near, Iowa on Monday, Sept. 18, 2023. Photo: Nick Rohlman | The Gazette

Lock and Dam 15 in the Quad Cities on the Mississippi River near, Iowa on Monday, Sept. 18, 2023.
Photo: Nick Rohlman | The Gazette

Report for America today announced the selection of 11 partner newsrooms that will join the Mississippi River Basin Ag & Water Desk, an independent environmental reporting network based at Missouri School of Journalism, in 2024. 

Working alongside the award-winning journalism collaborative’s founding partner newsrooms, these outlets will expand the Ag & Water Desk’s footprint in the South, reach more diverse audiences, and increase the project’s multimedia and broadcast output across the nation’s largest watershed.

The new cohort includes:

The newsrooms join an existing network of news outlets that provide a free source of in-depth local and regional journalism about water, agriculture, climate and other environmental issues across the Mississippi River basin, which stretches from Canada to Louisiana and Montana to Pennsylvania. Founded in 2021, the Ag & Water Desk is an editorially independent initiative based at the Missouri School of Journalism with major funding from the Walton Family Foundation.

Journalists are invited to apply for 11 reporting positions with the new Ag & Water Desk newsrooms through Report for America until Jan. 31.

Those selected as Report for America corps members will begin working in July 2024, covering individual beats for their host newsrooms while working with the Ag & Water Desk on regional stories and projects. 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.

Register here for an SEJ webinar on Dec. 13 to learn more about applying for these positions.

The Ag & Water Desk’s work has been recognized by Covering Climate Now, North American Agricultural Journalists, Association of LGBT Journalists and the Society of Environmental Journalists, and has appeared in more than 400 publications, from small rural newspapers and radio stations to national outlets such as the Associated Press and NPR. Newsrooms can republish the collaborative’s stories for free.

“It’s exciting to see the Ag & Water Desk continue to grow its influence and capabilities,” said David Kurpius, dean of the Missouri School of Journalism. “Keeping communities informed is central to the School of Journalism’s mission, and the Ag & Water Desk is exporting that mission all over the U.S. with its support of in-depth environmental journalism.”

“With these additions to our current newsrooms, the Ag & Water Desk will now have journalists actively contributing from more than 20 news outlets,” said Desk executive director Sara Shipley Hiles. “We’re helping to rebuild coverage of agriculture and environmental issues across the heart of America.”

“Through this collaboration, Report for America corps members and the Ag & Water Desk team have provided impactful reporting on significant environmental issues facing the communities in the river basin,” said Teri Hayt, Report for America’s director of corps and newsroom excellence. “We are pleased to expand this important partnership to additional communities in the coming years and continue to provide basin residents and a national audience with insightful, science-based reporting.”

The Ag & Water Desk’s partner newsrooms currently hosting Report for America corps members include: 

The Ag & Water Desk also has expert journalist mentors, senior advisors and other contributors at the following outlets:

Learn more about the Ag & Water Desk or subscribe to get updates on the latest headlines from the basin.

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 across the United States and its territories. By creating a new, sustainable model for journalism, Report for America provides people with the information they need to improve their communities, hold powerful institutions accountable, and restore trust in the media. Report for America is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, an award-winning nonprofit journalism organization dedicated to rebuilding journalism from the ground up.

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 other environmental issues surrounding one of the world’s major river systems. This editorially independent initiative is based at the Missouri School of Journalism with major funding 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. Newsrooms can run the Ag & Water Desk’s stories for free and the public can subscribe to a bi-weekly newsletter.

Updated: December 7, 2023

Related Stories

Expand All Collapse All