A Novel Approach to Reinvigorating Local News
To combat the continuing loss of local news in Pennsylvania, Spotlight PA is launching its first pilot regional bureau based in State College, which, if successful, could serve as a model for how to address the crisis in local news in communities across the state. As part of this initiative, Spotlight PA is hiring a team of four journalists dedicated to the region, which represents a sizable and significant infusion of talent relative to the number of current reporters.
Consistent with Spotlight PA’s member-funded, public-service mission, all of this high-quality journalism will be made available at no cost to our media partners — led by the Centre Daily Times — and to the public through spotlightpa.org.
In advance of our anticipated launch in July 2022, Spotlight PA is conducting extensive community listening sessions to determine the region’s most urgent information needs. Initial ideas for coverage include: Rural Issues (broadband access, farming crisis, opioid epidemic); Economics and Equity (business development, workforce, labor); Penn State (focusing on in-depth, investigative journalism); Visual journalism (photo and video). All of Spotlight PA’s reporting is conducted through an equity and accountability lens, examining issues that are causing harm and proposing solutions.
The team will be employed by Spotlight PA and receive organizational support from the statewide newsroom, including management and editing — thus avoiding the significant start-up costs associated with launching a brand-new, nonprofit news outlet. The bureau will publish via Spotlight PA’s extensive distribution network, elevating issues of regional importance to a statewide audience, while also fostering mutual understanding among all Pennsylvanians.
We estimate this new bureau will cost approximately $500,000 a year to sustain at its proposed size, and its future will depend on local support from the community. To encourage founding donors to join the effort, The Lenfest Institute for Journalism is offering to match all contributions up to $200,000 this year. You can support this special effort by clicking here, or to learn more about getting involved, you can email Spotlight PA Major Gifts Advisor Kathleen Pavelko at email@example.com.
In addition, Spotlight PA has partnered with Report for America, a national journalism project, to offset the cost of one reporting position. This expansion has also been made possible by a $1 million grant from the American Journalism Project, which is focused on enhancing Spotlight PA’s business and operations capacity to enable it to expand its journalism locally.
About Spotlight PA
Recognized as one of the most promising journalism endeavors in the United States, Spotlight PA is dedicated to providing unique, in-depth accountability and investigative journalism about the state government, urgent statewide issues, and the most pressing matters facing our local communities. Our member-supported newsroom distributes its public-service reporting at no cost via spotlightpa.org and 80 partner newsrooms from State College to Erie, Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. Over the last two years, Spotlight PA’s reporting has garnered numerous state and national awards, and driven meaningful change and important policy reforms in Harrisburg, strengthening democracy in our state.