NPR receives $4.7M to support two regional newsrooms

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NPR will build on its strategy to expand collaborative journalism with a grant that supports a California regional newsroom and a new partnership in the Midwest.

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Wendy Schmidt, president of the Schmidt Family Foundation, provided the $4.7 million grant, NPR announced Tuesday. 

The new Midwest collaboration will be led by four partner stations, with NPR as a national partner: St. Louis Public Radio; Iowa Public Radio; NET in Lincoln, Neb.; and KCUR in Kansas City, Mo. All 25 public radio stations in Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska will have access to content produced by the newsroom. 

The Midwest regional newsroom is the fourth in NPR’s Collaborative Journalism Network. NPR has also spearheaded creation of regional newsrooms in Texas and the Gulf States region

NPR announced the hiring of managing editor Joanne Griffith for the California newsroom in February. The effort is being led by KQED in San Francisco alongside anchor stations KPBS in San Diego, CapRadio in Sacramento, and KPCC/LAist and KCRW in Southern California, with NPR as a national partner. 

The grant will help establish investigative units in the California and Midwest news hubs. Investigative journalism “is so essential to an informed citizenry and democracy,” Nancy Barnes, NPR’s SVP for news and editorial director, said in a press release. “It’s also the type of journalism that has been eroding at the local level as newspapers scale back.”

Each regional newsroom will hire a small team of investigative journalists to work with station reporters on stories “that expose corruption, reveal health hazards and bring to light other information that the public has a right to know,” Barnes said. 

NPR, CPB and KQED all provided additional funding for the California and Midwest hubs.

NPR said that more regional newsrooms are in the works.

“Local news is especially important, and with so many newsrooms in decline, we need to invest in strengthening reporting resources from trusted sources like public radio,” Wendy Schmidt said in the release. “These regional news hubs will not only increase local reporting of critical issues, they will also elevate diverse voices and perspectives in regional and national stories.”

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