Report for America

The Post Register will expand health care reporting for eastern Idaho in 2020 with help from a national grant from Report for America.

In an announcement released Monday, Report for America said the Post Register has won a grant to hire a full-time reporter to cover the issues of rural health care in the region. Report for America is a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report for one to two years on under-covered issues and communities.

Report for America announced that it will field 250 emerging journalists in 164 host news organizations to serve local communities across 46 states. The Post Register is the only newspaper in Idaho, and the only newsroom in eastern Idaho, to have earned a grant for 2020.

In identifying an area that could benefit from increased coverage, the Post Register’s newsroom leaders selected health care, noting the increased statewide focus on the topic as evidenced by the debate to expand Medicaid coverage.

“Access to and affordability of health care are major concerns for our rural residents,” Post Register Managing Editor Monte LaOrange said.

Newsrooms were selected through a rigorous national competition, the Report for America announcement said. Each application was evaluated at least four times by some 50 judges — industry leaders including former editors and reporters, journalism professors and more, the announcement said.

“We offer a pretty simple fix for news holes in communities throughout the country — local reporters on the ground, who hold leaders accountable and report on under-covered issues,” said Steven Waldman, president and co-founder of Report for America. “The editors we’ve met during our application cycle have shown us amazing passion, commitment and sharp ideas for how to better serve their local communities.”

The Post Register is the largest news organization serving eastern Idaho. Its reporters, in conjunction with those at its sister publications, work to cover a 10-county area with additional coverage in eastern Wyoming and southwestern Montana. The coverage area is approximately the same size as the state of West Virginia.

Applications for the Report for America reporting positions are being accepted until Jan. 31. The program’s journalists will be chosen in a selective national competition, the announcement said. Journalists and their newsroom pairings will be announced in April. Some 50 reporters in the 2019 class will be staying on another year. Journalists start work in their new newsrooms in June.

The 2020 class is more than four times the size of the 2019 class. The significant expansion of the corps was made possible by leadership support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Facebook Journalism Project, the Joyce Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation, the Google News Initiative, the Ford Foundation, Heising-Simons Foundation, Craig Newmark Philanthropies, the Tow Foundation and many more.

Report for America is funding these new positions with more than $5 million in direct support to newsrooms. This investment leverages a unique funding model in which RFA pays half of a corps member’s salary, while asking its local news partners to contribute one-quarter and supporting them in getting local and regional funders to contribute the final quarter. The goal of the model is to expand the number of local reporting positions permanently.

Those who seek to help support this ambitious national effort will have their donations tripled by NewsMatch and other GroundTruth challenge donors through Dec. 31.