Grant will fund regional newsrooms in California and the Midwest to boost local coverage and investigative journalism.
Washington D.C., May 19--NPR announced today it has received a $4.7 million grant from philanthropists Eric and Wendy Schmidt to the Collaborative Journalism Network to create two new regional newsrooms--one in California and a Midwest hub connecting Member stations in Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska--that will increase local coverage across the states, especially in underserved communities, and will expand investigative reporting capacity.
These two new regional newsrooms will enable public radio stations in the states they serve to coordinate and expand their local and regional reporting and will also provide content to national news programs and digital platforms.
"Now more than ever, we depend on high-quality journalism for timely and critical information," said Wendy Schmidt. "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. 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."
The California regional newsroom was announced in February with the hiring of managing editor Joanne Griffith. The public radio collaboration will be led by KQED in San Francisco and includes anchor stations KPBS in San Diego, CapRadio in Sacramento, KPCC/LAist and KCRW in Southern California, and NPR as the statewide newsroom's national partner. The California newsroom will serve all 17 public radio stations across the state that broadcast in 50 cities.
All 25 public radio stations in Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska serving some 63 cities will have access to content produced by the midwest regional newsroom, which will be led by the largest public media stations in the region--KCUR in Kansas City, St. Louis Public Radio, Iowa Public Radio and NET in Nebraska--with NPR as the national partner.
The grant will add investigative units in California and the Midwest, enabling the regional newsrooms to provide deeper coverage of topics like government accountability, criminal justice, the environment, healthcare and rural economic development. The regional hubs will also leverage existing reporting resources by coordinating coverage of breaking news and elections across statewide news teams.
"This generous gift will allow the Midwest and California regional newsrooms to focus on investigative reporting, which is so essential to an informed citizenry and democracy. It's also the type of journalism that has been eroding at the local level as newspapers scale back," said Nancy Barnes, NPR's SVP for News and Editorial Director. "To address this challenge, these newsrooms will hire small teams of investigative journalists who will work with station reporters on public service investigations—stories that expose corruption, reveal health hazards and bring to light other information that the public has a right to know."
The California news hub is the second regional collaboration with local public radio stations as part of NPR's Collaborative Journalism Network. The first was the Texas Newsroom, created last September and currently producing six live statewide newscasts each weekday that draw content from public radio stations across Texas. Shortly after the California news hub was announced, public media stations in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, joined together to launch the Gulf States newsroom. The Midwest hub is the fourth regional newsroom, with more in the works. Additional funding for the California and Midwest hubs is provided by NPR, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and KQED.
About Eric and Wendy Schmidt
Eric and Wendy Schmidt have been active philanthropists since 2006, when they started The Schmidt Family Foundation to address the global crisis of climate change through grants and impact investments in renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, human rights and marine technology. Since then, they also founded Schmidt Ocean Institute to advance oceanographic research through the development of innovative technologies. The institute operates the only year-round, seagoing philanthropic research vessel in the world. Most recently, the couple founded Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic initiative that finds exceptional people and helps them do more for others together. Eric Schmidt led Google as CEO for a decade and as executive chairman for four years. He also served as executive chairman of Alphabet for three years and as technical advisor. Wendy Schmidt worked in marketing communications in Silicon Valley and then started and ran a residential interior design business for 16 years before turning to philanthropy. She has led The Schmidt Family Foundation as its president since 2006.
NPR's rigorous reporting and unsurpassed storytelling connect with millions of Americans every day — on the air, online, and in person. NPR strives to create a more informed public — one challenged and invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas, and cultures. With a nationwide network of award-winning journalists and 17 international bureaus, NPR and its Member stations are never far from where a story is unfolding. Listeners can find NPR by tuning in to their local Member stations (npr.org/stations), and now it's easy to listen to our stories on smart speaker devices. Ask your smart speaker to, "Play NPR," and you'll be tuned into your local Member station's live stream. Your speaker can also access NPR podcasts, NPR One, NPR News Now, and the Visual Newscast is available for screened speakers. Get more information at npr.org/about and by following NPR Extra on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
NPR: Isabel Lara, firstname.lastname@example.org
SCHMIDT: Karen Denne, email@example.com