More hands, more stories

Mahoning Matters is adding a reporting position through Report for America in 2020

In our first two months of running Mahoning Matters, we’ve learned that you can tell a lot of important stories with a small team. We have four journalists in our Youngstown newsroom — an editor, a content manager and two reporters — and each has to wear a lot of hats to make sure the news gets out every day. We have so much more we’d like to do to ensure the stories that matter most are being covered in the Mahoning Valley, but we needed some help to make that happen.

That’s why I’m so pleased to share that Mahoning Matters has been selected as a Report for America host newsroom in 2020.

Report for America is a national service program that places journalists into selected local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities. Report for America provides half the cost of that reporter’s salary and the other half comes from the local news organization (that’s us) and contributions from local donors.

This will not only add 50 percent more reporting capabilities to our newsroom, but will also be a boost for our partners at WYSU, a local public radio station operated by Youngstown State University.

This new journalist will be tasked with creating multi-platform, data-driven stories on the most important issue facing Youngstown residents in 2020 — the state of city services amid an emerging budget deficit.

A 2018 financial review projected a $16 million deficit for the city of Youngstown by 2023, with multiple shortfalls expected by 2020. The city has never recovered from the industrial decline from the late 1970s. In 2019 alone, it lost a hospital, a nearby automaker and a newspaper, creating an additional $880,000 hit to the city’s income tax revenue stream. To get ahead of the impending financial meltdown, Youngstown is already reducing its first-responder ranks, closing a fire station and making other drastic cuts that are likely to impact the city’s poorest neighborhoods and most marginalized communities.

The journalist in this Report for America position would be tasked with database reporting to measure the impact of additional cuts as they are proposed and then using mahoningmatters.com, WYSU radio and social media to connect to affected residents and communities. This two-way connection will not only allow us to document the decline of city services and quality of life, but also to tell stories through the lived experiences of the residents who are most impacted.

Report for America hires the reporters to fill these spots across the country, but host newsrooms can make recommendations as to who we’d like to work with. If you are interested in taking on this important role with us, let us know before you apply at info@mahoningmatters.com. To learn more about Report for America or to apply for a reporting role, visit their site. The deadline is January 31, 2020 and the selected person would start in June.

Mahoning Matters is part of The Compass Experiment, a local news laboratory founded by McClatchy and Google’s Local Experiments Project. This Medium site is set up to share news and learnings from The Compass Experiment’s local news websites.

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The Compass Experiment is a local news laboratory founded by McClatchy and Google to explore new sustainable business models for local news.

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