KUER 90.1 NPR Utah announced today that it will expand its regional news coverage in central Utah with new funding from Report for America. The service-oriented grant will be used to create a new reporter position that will cover energy, the environment and rural issues starting in the summer of 2020.  

Earlier this year, two Report for America grants enabled KUER to hire two new reporters and establish regional bureaus in Washington and San Juan counties. 

“KUER is committed to growing our statewide mission by placing journalists in areas served by our expanding broadcast service,” said KUER General Manager Maria O’Mara. “With Report for America’s help, we have two reporters working right now in southern Utah, with a third coming to central Utah next year.”

The Salt Lake City based NPR member station is among 164 newsrooms that will receive more than $5 million in direct funding from Report for America in 2020. (Next year’s RFA program will be four times the size of the 2019 class, according to the organization.)

Report for America is a national service program that places emerging journalists — called corps members — into local news organizations to report on under-covered issues and communities. In a unique funding model, RFA pays half of a corps member’s salary, with the recipient news organization and local funding contributing the other half. The goal of the model is to make the positions permanent.

KUER added two corps members to its newsroom in June 2019, with each reporter living and working in the Utah communities they cover. David Fuchs covers the rapidly growing region around St. George, while Kate Groetzinger covers local politics and indigenous issues in San Juan County from her base in Blanding. 

“During their short time on the ground in southern Utah, David and Kate have already brought a wide-range of stories to our listeners, from watchdog reporting on a controversial mining project in Kanab to the chronicling of growth in San Juan County as a new county commission learns its way,” said KUER News Director Andrew Becker. “Now, with a third reporter joining our collaboration with Report for America, KUER will expand our statewide coverage and tell important Utah stories in 2020 and beyond.”

RFA’s next class will be comprised of 250 corps members working in 46 states. First, they will attend intensive training in June, at a site to be determined, before joining their newsrooms to launch their first year of service. 

Applications are being accepted now until Jan. 31 at reportforamerica.org

An initiative of The GroundTruth Project, Report for America describes itself as “addressing an urgent need in journalism at a time when news deserts are widening across the country, leaving communities uninformed on local issues and threatening our democracy like never before.”

Les
Les has worked extensively in public relations for a variety of organizations and was U.S. editorial advisor for Netherlands based Art Design Publicity. In addition to being a regular contributor to a Utah business magazine, Les has worked on projects involving authors and researchers throughout the world, including Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Lebanon, Cyprus, the United Kingdom, France, and Japan. Les is also a classically trained musician with more than 400 performances under his belt.

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