Business & economy

Enterprise adds 3 to news team as it joins national program

Yadira Lopez joins the Enterprise as a corps member of the national Report for America, which is helping fund local journalists across the U.S.

VALE – The Malheur Enterprise will add three reporters this summer, including a participant in a national reporting corps and two college interns.

The additions will make the Enterprise one of the largest news gathering operations in eastern Oregon.

“This continues our commitment to train young journalists in high professional standards while giving Malheur County deep and broad coverage,” said Publisher Les Zaitz.

One reporter comes to Vale via Report for America, an initiative of the national nonprofit media organization called The GroundTruth Project.

Yadira Lopez will spend a year at the Enterprise, focusing on developing the newspaper’s coverage of Malheur County’s Latino population. About one-third of county residents are Latino.

“We intend to establish ground-breaking reporting on a community often overlooked,” Zaitz said.

Lopez has been a reporter for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida and an adjunct instructor at the New College of Florida in Sarasota. She currently is a language assistant in France, helping local students learn English.

“Like many people, I love rooting for the underdog,” Lopez said in explaining her decision to join the Enterprise. “I was impressed by the amount and quality of work the Enterprise puts out despite its size and the odds against it. I also did a lot of research and came across many reader comments that expressed gratitude for the work the paper is doing. That kind of engagement from readers sealed the deal for me.”

While in Vale, Lopez said, “I just want to do good, honest reporting that will give all readers the facts they need to make informed decisions. My hope is that by doing so, by sticking to the basics, along the way we will help readers impact the community in positive ways.”

Lopez is a corps member of Report for America and will engage in community service projects as well as reporting. The Enterprise is among 51 newsrooms and one of only three weekly newspapers across the country participating in the Report for America program. The newsrooms range from large daily newspapers such as the Detroit Free Press and Salt Lake Tribune to television and radio stations, including public broadcasting stations such as West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

“Local coverage has been decimated,” the program explains on its website. “Residents no longer get the information they need to understand the critical issues facing their community, to make good decisions for their family, and hold elected officials accountable.”

The media organization helps fund the local reporters in a program that “calls on an emerging generation of journalists to service, reporting in under-covered corners of America.”

“Report for America promotes new models for shared investment in local journalism, increasing the chances of sustaining watchdog community reporting, for the community, by the community,” said Charles Sennott, CEO and editor-in-chief of the GroundTruth Project, which launched Report for America in 2017.

The project is supported by several national foundations, including the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and Craig Newmark Philanthropies.

“Ensuring that every community has access to great local news is vital to restoring trust in media and our democracy. That’s why expanding the pool of excellent journalists who are passionate about local news is so important,” said Jennifer Preston, Knight Foundation vice president for journalism.

Isabella Garcia

Also joining the Enterprise will be Isabella Garcia, selected to participate in the University of Oregon’s prestigious Snowden internship program. The program, operated by the university’s School of Journalism and Communications, is named for long-time Oregon journalist Charles Snowden and this marks the second year the Enterprise has been selected to host an intern.

Garcia will graduate this summer with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in computer information technology.

She has worked two years in the communications department at the UO Honors College and has been a writer for the university’s student-produced magazine Flux.

“The Enterprise’s commitment to quality journalism and a transparent reporting process is what made me want to join the newsroom,” Garcia said. “I’m excited to work with a team that is truly engaged within the community and prioritizes truth and accuracy over convenience and glamour.”

She said that through the summer “I hope to continue the standard of reporting impactful stories with the utmost transparency and ethical consideration.”

This year’s Engelberg investigative reporting intern is Joe Siess. The internship is named for the late Edward Engelberg, a former Portland resident whose son, Stephen, is editor-in-chief of ProPublica. The internship is supported by the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors and private donors from across the Northwest.

Siess earned his bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Kansas and is on track to graduate in May with a master’s in journalism from the University of Missouri.

He speaks Spanish and Portuguese. He has been a reporter for the daily Columbia Missourian in Columbia, Missouri.

“The fact that the Enterprise was picked up on life support, rebooted, and has become a local news institution, is something that not only inspired me to join the Enterprise, but it also renews my hope in the future of local journalism in this country,” Siess said.

He said wants to provide readers transparency.

“I want to serve the community by doing the kind of work that helps provide a sense of confidence in that whatever happens, it’s not sneaking past the Enterprise,” he said.

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