CPB puts another $3.3 million into news collaborations

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CPB announced Wednesday $3.3 million in support to five regional journalism collaborations, includes the launch of three new projects.

New initiatives in Kansas, the Southwest and the mountain West join local, regional and topical news initiatives nationwide — some active, some shuttered — that CPB has backed with $32 million since 2009.

A total of 23 stations are involved in projects funded in this round. The two-year grants will support 33 newsroom positions, including five editors.

“Collaboration is a force multiplier; together stations can do more and innovate faster to provide the local journalism that is part of the bedrock of public media’s valued service to our country,” said Kathy Merritt, CPB SVP, journalism and radio, in the announcement.

The largest grant, $994,909, goes to California Counts at lead station KPCC in Pasadena. Along with KQED in San Francisco, KPBS in San Diego, Capital Public Radio in Sacramento and nonprofit newsroom CALmatters.org in Sacramento, the team will report on politics, the economy, safety and quality of life in the state. The four stations collaborated under the same name on campaign and election coverage last year without CPB support.

The new Sustainability Regional Journalism Collaboration receives $699,847. Lead station Arizona PBS will cover water resources, renewable energy, climate change and urbanization along with KPCC, KJZZ in Phoenix, Rocky Mountain PBS in Denver and PBS SoCal in Costa Mesa, Calif. Several of those stations have been involved in earlier news collaborations, including Inside Energy at Rocky Mountain PBS.

The energy-focused StateImpact Pennsylvania, a project that previously reported on fracking without CPB backing, expands to report on that industry, the economic and environmental impact of energy choices and how energy production affects communities. Lead station WITF joins WHYY in Philadelphia, WESA in Pittsburgh and the public radio program Allegheny Front from Pittsburgh’s WYEP, supported by a $652,902 grant. Several Pennsylvania stations previously collaborated on studying urban decline.

The new Kansas Regional Journalism Collaboration receives $502,327 to focus on politics, health, education, natural resources, rural life and agriculture. Lead station KCUR in Kansas City, Mo., will collaborate with KMUW, Wichita; Kansas Public Radio, Lawrence; and High Plains Public Radio, Garden City. Stations in the state have collaborated on several projects in the past, including the CPB-backed Harvest Public Media.

Another new project, Collaboration in the Mountain West, gets $475,000 to launch a news service reporting on land and water resource management, regional growth, issues in the rural west and western culture. Lead station is Boise State Public Radio, along with KUNC, Greeley, Colo.; Yellowstone Public Radio, Billings, Mont.; Wyoming Public Media, Laramie; KRCC, Colorado Springs; and KUER, Salt Lake City.

Each collaboration is expected to contribute stories to national public media programs such as Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Marketplace and PBS NewsHour.

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