WITF, PA Post to expand newsrooms with Report for America support

Mission is to expand reporting on state's growing Latino population

  • By WITF Staff

In the face of a rapidly changing media landscape, WITF and PA Post are working to apply their reporting power toward issues that deserve a deeper look, rather than a quick story or two that barely scratches the surface.

As media organizations across the state find themselves with fewer and fewer resources, we’ve been fortunate to add journalists to our respective newsrooms. Now, thanks to support from Report for America, the two organizations will be welcoming two new reporters on July 1.

WITF and PA Post share Report for America’s goal: Strengthen communities and democracy through local journalism that’s truthful, fearless, fair and smart. With additional resources — thanks to RFA’s financial support — we will take a two-fold approach in the face of a changing population in Pennsylvania: How the population growth of Latinos is part of an ongoing story of change across the state, and what issues resonate with Latinos in the run-up to the 2020 elections?

Some 7.3 percent of the population is made up of Hispanics. In Reading, Latinos are in the majority and voters elected the city’s first Latino mayor (Eddie Moran) earlier this month.

Other regions of the commonwealth are also home to a growing number of people from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republican and Latin American at large. We hope to explore how Latino communities in Berks, Lebanon and other counties are growing their political clout and civic engagement.

“It’s vitally important to provide coverage that will be more inclusive of all residents of communities across our region and bring a diversity of voices on-air and online,” said WITF Multimedia News Director Tim Lambert. “With Pennsylvania set to be a battleground state in 2020, WITF, PA Post and our public media partners are looking forward to providing comprehensive coverage of the issues important to communities across the region and the state.” 

Adding a bilingual journalist to each newsroom will enable WITF to fully cover regional news affecting all residents in a 19-county area, and PA Post to covering community issues across the state. Since both organizations have a history of collaboration, they will pursue multimedia stories that can be shared with media partners across the state.

 “The mission of public media like WITF and independent outlets like PA Post is to cover every community, regardless of geography, wealth, demographics or language,” PA Post Executive Editor Russ Walker said. “We believe the RFA support will provide our existing audiences with a unique perspective on their Latino neighbors, coworkers and friends, while also serving the Latino community with journalism centered on their lives and their communities’ needs.”

The coverage will work to connect how communities across these areas are addressing problems and opportunities. Questions we are interested in answering include: How are local governments realigning their services to meet the needs of the Latino community? Are schools adequately addressing the needs of students who move between English and Spanish many times during the course of their days? How is the private sector working with a growing number of Latino entrepreneurs to reshape local economies and opportunities.

We, of course, want to hear from you. We plan to hold listening sessions and panel discussions along the Route 222 corridor to find out what the burning issues are and the potential ideas to solve them. 

Reporters interested in joining the two newsrooms can apply beginning Dec. 2.

WITF, the parent company of PA Post, is one of two news organizations in the state to receive a RFA grant. The other is public media station WESA in Pittsburgh.

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