National group tabs Enterprise for journalism expansion

Reporters Pat Caldwell and Kristine de Leon of the Malheur Enterprise work on stories in the Vale newsroom. (The Enterprise/File)

The Malheur Enterprise has been selected to participate in a national reporting program designed to place journalists in communities around the country to deepen local news coverage.

The Enterprise is the only Oregon news outlet selected by Report for America, a national service organization.

The Vale news operation will receive funding to pay for half the salary of a new reporter, with the Enterprise covering the remaining costs with local donations and from company operations. The reporter, not yet selected, would work in Vale for a year starting in June.

“This is a remarkable development for Malheur County,” said Les Zaitz, Enterprise publisher and editor. “This allows us to more rapidly expand our news coverage and reflects the work done by our staff the past couple of years to turn the Enterprise into a nationally-respected newspaper.”

The new reporter will be focused on covering Latino issues in Malheur County, Zaitz said. About one-third of the local population is Latino.

The Enterprise is one of 36 newsrooms across the U.S. joining the program. In the West, the Spokane Spokesman-Review and the Salt Lake Tribune, both daily newspapers, also were selected. Two other weekly newspapers in the country also will be participating.

“Each news organization had to demonstrate that there is a civically-important gap in coverage and that they have a strong plan to deploy new reporting resources in the public interest,” Report for America said in announcing its choices Thursday morning.

Report for America launched in 2017 and is an initiative of The GroundTruthProject. Report for America has a goal of placing 1,000 reporters by 2023 to provide “Americans with the information they need to improve their communities, hold powerful institutions accountable and rebuild trust in the media,” according to the organization.

The organization is now taking applications for the reporting slot in Vale and other newsrooms. The deadline to apply is Feb. 8 and the application can be found on Report for America’s website.

This is the second year that the Enterprise has been selected to be part of a competitive national journalism project. ProPublica, a national nonprofit investigative reporting newsroom, funded a reporter in 2018 at the Enterprise as one of seven newsrooms selected for its Local Reporting Network.

The Enterprise also has been tabbed to host two paid internships this summer, one through the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communications and one through the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors.

“We are determined to continue serving Malheur County national-caliber journalism that relentlessly focuses on local news that matters to the community,” said Zaitz. “We are fortunate that our peers have judged those efforts worth supporting with their money and their resources.”

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