Yilun Cheng Focuses on Refugee and Immigrant Communities

To better reflect and serve communities in the city of Columbus and beyond, The Dispatch is adding a reporting post to write for and about refugee and immigrant communities in central Ohio.

This is made possible by Report for America, which today announced the placement of approximately 300 journalists nationwide for its 2021-2022 corps of reporters.

Yilun Cheng will join Dispatch staff in June to work with seasoned journalist Danae King to cover underserved communities. Cheng, who holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of California and a master’s degree in political science from Columbia University, is currently completing his work towards a master’s degree in journalism at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. .

Cheng has had internships and independent experience covering a variety of topics, including issues affecting immigrant communities in Chicago. In Columbus, his reporting will focus on the large and growing Somali and Bhutanese refugee communities.

“As a news organization, we are committed to reflecting the diversity of our community in our coverage and staff, and this post is an important step towards that goal,” said editor Alan D. Miller. “We are grateful to Report for America and the many donors – including individuals and organizations here in central Ohio – who support local journalism with their donations to this national service program.

Report for America reporters will be on staff at more than 200 local news agencies in 49 states, Washington, DC, Puerto Rico and Guam. This group includes a number of corps members returning to newsrooms for a second or third year – including to Columbus, where Ceili Doyle became Report for America’s first reporter in the Dispatch newsroom last year.

Doyle covers other underserved communities in Dispatch’s coverage area – rural communities, which had seen a decline in media coverage in recent years.

The body of Report for America is diverse. As the organization noted in a press release, with 45 percent of journalists of color – 135 – that’s more than double the percentage found in the majority of U.S. newsrooms. “By better reflecting their communities, Report for America’s partner editorial staff will be in a better position to gain the trust of their audiences as part of the national race calculation,” he said.

These reporting positions come at a critical time when America needs reliable and accurate information, Steven Waldman, co-founder and president of Report for America, said in a statement.

“The crisis in our democracy, disinformation and polarization, is in many ways the result of the collapse of local news,” said Waldman. “We have a unique opportunity to reverse this decline by filling newsrooms with talented journalists who not only view journalism as a public service, but who can build trust with the communities they serve.”

The Report for America national service program places reporters in local newsrooms to report on outsourced issues and communities. It is an initiative of The GroundTruth project, a non-profit journalistic organization.

“Together, the emerging and experienced members of our body will produce tens of thousands of articles on critical outsourced topics – schools, government, healthcare, environment, communities of color, and more,” said Kim Kleman, senior vice president of Report for America. “The level of talent they bring to their work is unbeatable.”

Report for America aims to grow to 1,000 local reporters across the country by 2024 and help transform the local news economy to make these new reporting resources permanent. The program will seek to raise $ 15 million this year to grow next year’s body and meet the needs of communities across the country.

“We know that the biggest global challenges of our time – like equitable health care, the impact of climate change and affordable housing – will require trusted, local public service journalism if we are to come together to solve them.” said Charles Sennott, Report for the US co-founder and CEO of GroundTruth.

Report for America relies on a unique funding model, paying half of a corps member’s salary, while encouraging and supporting its local news partners to contribute a quarter, and local and regional funders. for the last quarter.

The model is successful. In total, Report for America had a philanthropic impact of nearly $ 10 million on local US news in 2020. The total amount donated to Report for America’s editorial staff rose from $ 861,000 in 2019 to $ 4.6 million. dollars, an increase of 61% per reporter.

For the first time in 2021, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) is working with the GroundTruth Project to support 10 of Report For America’s full-time journalists on local public radio stations. Over the next two years, CPB will provide nearly $ 650,000 to fund half of journalists’ salaries in the first year and 42% in the second, with Report for America and the stations paying the rest.

The service program is also supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; Facebook journalism project; Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; Natasha and Dirk Ziff; The Joyce Foundation; Lumina Foundation; Jonathan Logan Family Foundation; Craig Newmark Philanthropies; Chan Zuckerberg Initiative; Heising-Simons Foundation; Tow Foundation; Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation; Henry L. Kimelman Foundation; the Wunderkinder Foundation; the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; Evelyn Y. Davis Foundation; Jesse and Betsy Fink; Leon Levy Foundation; Inasmuch Foundation; Select Equity Group Foundation; Annie E. Casey Foundation; Val A. Browning Charitable Foundation; Newman’s own foundation; More advanced foundation; and McClatchy Foundation.

To support the local journalism produced by Cheng and Doyle, you can make a tax-deductible donation to bit.ly/3fNsGaZ. To learn more about Report for America, go to reportforamerica.org.

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