by Sam Hieb
Years ago my wonderful father-in-law urged me not to go into the journalism business. There’s no money in it, he said. He had a friend in the publishing business who said he had so money people willing to write for free—even some people who were willing to pay him to publish their writing.
Today we learn that the Charlotte Observer is getting a new reporter covering the affordable housing beat. Not hiring a new reporter–this is key–but getting a new reporter courtesy of Report for America:
The Charlotte Observer is among news organizations from across the nation selected to take part in Report for America’s annual public service initiative to boost reporting on under-covered issues and neighborhoods, organizers announced Thursday.
Report for America trains young reporters and sends them to newsrooms for at least one year to report on specific neighborhoods and topics. The Report for America journalist for the Observer will focus on affordable housing and poverty.
A report from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission says Charlotte lacks about 34,000 affordable housing units needed to meet demand. That’s about double the number from a decade ago.
According to its newsroom newsroom FAQ Report for America “puts in half (up to $20,000) the salary for an entry-level position.” and–if “your news organization is particularly hard up”—-more than likely it is— RFA will “strongly encourage news organizations to involve the community to support the RFA corps member” while ensuring that they will uphold “strict editorial standards and will be clear up front with donors that they do not get to influence the reporter or the journalism.”
All I know is it sounds like a good deal for the Observer–a reporter for one of the most complicated beats in journalism for half price—at most. We’ll see how the reporting goes.