NPR receives $5.5M grant to expand collaborative journalism efforts

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NPR has received a $5.5 million grant to fund two regional newsrooms and a visual journalism pilot.

The three-year grant is from Eric and Wendy Schmidt, NPR announced in a Wednesday press release. Eric Schmidt is a former CEO of Google. The philanthropists previously donated $4.7 million to NPR to support two other regional newsrooms. 

NPR Chief of Staff Chris Turpin announced NPR’s plans to expand the regional newsrooms in February. The new grant will expand the number of newsrooms to seven by the end of the year with the addition of an Appalachia newsroom.

The funds will also support the Mountain West News Bureau, an existing public radio journalism collaboration of 14 stations in Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. The collaboration will become one of NPR’s regional newsrooms in its Collaborative Journalism Network. 

NPR will also begin working with another existing public radio regional journalism collaborative: the nine-station New England News Collaborative. The collaborative will begin a pilot project to increase short-form video news coverage. The pilot will “provide training and mentorship to build visual storytelling capacity and knowledge of best practices for digital platforms,” according to the release.

“Local news organizations are essential to our communities, providing not only a sense of identity and connection but also a spotlight on local challenges like land rights, voting abuses, the impact of extractive industries and air and water quality,” Wendy Schmidt, co-founder and president of the Schmidt Family Foundation, said in the release. “Eric and I believe deeply in investing in NPR’s work to strengthen our democracy, protect human rights, expose wrongs and uplift voices that deserve to be heard.”

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