NPR sets a goal: add 100 reporters to statehouse beats

A multiyear initiative led by NPR, Impact of Government, eventually will put two additional state-level reporters to work in each of the 50 states, along with a small team of editors and data analysts at the network. Pilot coverage in eight states will begin in March [NPR request for proposals]. The $1.8 million kickoff grant from the Open Society Foundations, founded and chaired by financier George Soros, will cover planning and part of pilot costs, but launching the full project will require $17 million, and sustaining it will cost $18 million a year, according to Ron Schiller, NPR senior v.p. of fundraising and president of the NPR Foundation. The project, developed during strategic planning talks over the past 18 months, is public radio’s first major effort to make a fundraising case for a combined local/national project. NPR will join stations in asking funders to back their aspiration to take up enterprise and long-form reporting on a beat once dominated by daily newspapers — state government and public affairs — that public radio most often covers as daily spot news.