DEADLINE EXTENDED: Jumpstart Your Career in Local Journalism - America's Future

April 21, 2020


DEADLINE EXTENDED: Jumpstart Your Career in Local Journalism

By: Josh Evans

While the changing media landscape has brought new opportunities for aspiring writers, it’s also led to a number of  local newspapers cutting staff or shuttering altogether. This gap in local news coverage means far too many people across the country are left without reliable sources of information about what’s happening in their own backyards. 

Even worse, the decline in local news coverage has led to increased polarization in voting habits. According to a study from late 2018, when people lose access to local news sources, national news fills the void. That means that, during local elections, voters are more likely to make party-line voting decisions based on partisan national politics rather than nuanced choices based on knowledge of the local issues and candidates.

Helping to foster talent in young writers has always been a priority for AF. Five years ago, we launched the Writing Fellows Program, which trains young professionals to write persuasively and get their work in front of an audience. While it focuses primarily on opinion writing, we’ve had some remarkably talented writers focused on issues at the local level come through the program, including Derek Draplin, regional editor at The Center Square, and Anthony Hennen, co-founder of expatalachians.

AF engages young leaders across the country and has increasingly noticed a void at the city and local level. As part of a concerted effort to develop an on-the-ground presence in cities and towns across the country, earlier this month, AF announced the Local Reporting Seminar in order to equip aspiring reporters with the necessary skills and connections they need to be effective journalists. 

Through weekly online classes, seminar participants will hear from professionals in the field on essential skills, including how to:

-Write effectively in a journalistic style
-Develop sources within their community and stay on top of the most important stories,
-Navigate local public records laws
-Build a career in local journalism in an uncertain media landscape.

Building strong communities is at the core of what AF does, and journalists play a vital role in keeping communities informed and engaged. If you’re pursuing a career in journalism (or just interested in sharpening your news-gathering skills), I hope you’ll join us for the inaugural class of the Local Reporting Seminar. Applications are due May 6 at midnight ET and the program will meet online Thursday nights from May 14 through June 4.