CPB supports Arkansas news project among four public radio stations

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Four Arkansas public radio stations are forming a statewide news collaborative to expand local reporting, backed by a grant from CPB.

The corporation announced Monday that it will provide $278,300 to establish the multimedia Natural State News, based at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. The money funds a managing editor, two additional reporters and a partner manager who will raise additional funds for the project.

KUAR will lead NSN. Joining as project partners are KUAF in Fayetteville, KASU in Jonesboro and KTXK in Texarkana. Ben Fry, g.m. of KUAR and its classical station KLRE, will oversee the initiative.

Coverage will also be available in Spanish. NSN is partnering with the print Spanish-language publication El Latino, serving central Arkansas. Other partners include the Arkansas Educational Television Network, the university’s Institute on Race and Ethnicity, and the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, a unit of the Central Arkansas Library System that promotes history, literature, art and culture in the state.

Reporters will focus on education, health and energy coverage in the state and “reach extensively into rural Arkansas to tell unfolding stories,” CPB’s announcement said. NSN will report breaking news as well as special interest stories, with content posted online and available to NPR’s national news programs.

The network “is an example of increased media integration and a pathway for stations to work together to maximize resources while expanding their high-quality journalism,” said Bruce Theriault, s.v.p. of journalism and radio, in the announcement.

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