3.28.2019--Yellowstone Public Radio will soon be expanding news coverage of tribal and rural communities in Montana. A grant from the non-profit media organization Report for America will enable the station to hire an additional reporter to support the news team in uncovering important stories in the station’s massive geographical reach.
YPR is among seven news organizations in the Intermountain West selected to receive the competitive grant, announced March 22nd. In 2019, Report for America will place 60 reporters in newsrooms spanning 30 states.
YPR’s coverage area is approximately equal in size to Great Britain and includes not only urban centers like Billings, Bozeman and Helena, but also many rural and tribal areas that lack a news source dedicated to their communities. The new YPR reporter will focus on shedding sorely needed light on these communities and will be hired from a pool of Report for America Corps members to join the team in the coming months.
Report for America is a national initiative of the nonprofit GroundTruth Project, and was launched in 2017 in response to the elimination of local news outlets across the country. The organization describes Report for America as a Teach for America or AmeriCorps program for journalists, “deploy[ing] outstanding emerging journalists into newsrooms around the country to report on under-covered topics and communities”
They project recognizes the strain that newsrooms across the country are facing and works to expand capacity and coverage by recruiting talented journalists, connecting them newsrooms with ready to use them, and funding half of their salary for one year.
Yellowstone Public Radio recognizes the unique challenge we face as a small station serving a massive and diverse coverage area, and welcomes this unique opportunity to fill a major need for news coverage in “flyover country” – a need exacerbated in the last decade by the shrinking and closure of newspapers across the region. We are troubled by the fact that, though there are eight Native American reservations in Montana and Wyoming, no major news outlet in either state has a dedicated tribal issues reporter. This Report for America grant will give Yellowstone Public Radio the opportunity to fill this critical gap by creating a new beat to cover tribal issues, including the growing awareness and response to the epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, ongoing negotiations over tribal water rights, differing approaches to energy development on tribal lands, unique expressions of tribal sovereignty, crime and justice, and language and cultural revitalization. YPR News Director Nicky Ouellet says of the grant, “We are thrilled to host a Report for America fellow as YPR’s new tribal issues correspondent. Our fellow will broaden our coverage of Indian Country in Montana and Wyoming, bringing us stories rich in sound and context that go beyond crisis headlines.”
The new reporter will also be assigned to cover stories on agriculture, energy and the environment in rural communities.